Tips for a healthcare staffing agency to prepare for the holiday season

Posted by Julie Moore on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 03:15 PM

Ahhh... Thanksgiving week and the kick off to the holiday season is finally upon us, but for those of us in healthcare staffing we know that this is truly the silly season. 

Have you ever felt this way?


Here are five tips to help you make it through the holidays without losing your mind:

  1. Double check your travelers contracts verses their schedule to make sure that there wasn’t a miscommunication between the facility’s scheduler and what is in your travelers contract. This is a very proactive step to take as it helps to do this ahead of time thus not having any fires to put out the week of a holiday. 

  2. Have a strategic plan for payroll. We all know the short weeks combined with the end of the year can make payroll extremely hectic and stressful. This may result in coming in on a Sunday to enter timesheets and over-communicating to your healthcare professionals the deadlines for timecard submission.  Use your texting feature in BlueSky to alert your staff as to when the timecards are due to the payroll department and your missing timecard list to hound those that haven’t turned their timecards in.

  3. Get your holiday cards to arrive on-time and to the right address.  Many systems including BlueSky can create mailing labels.  Do not wait until last minute to print these. Know how to get your addresses together for holiday cards and make sure you have the right address for your travelers. You want your cards to actually arrive to where they are actually for the holidays, right?

  4. Make sure that your facilities, especially any new contracts in 2014 are setup with the correct holidays start and end. Some facilities have different rules that apply to when they start holiday pay and you don’t want to be fixing this after the first of the year or the week of Christmas so be sure proactively check these facility’s holiday time calculation rules.

  5. Plan your holiday party and invite everyone including your healthcare professionals then do something fun for your travelers that can’t make it to the party.  If it were me, I would do something extra for those working during Christmas or New Years.  It will mean a lot and something little goes a long way especially for those travelers who are away from their family and friends during the holidays.

If you have any tips on what you do to prepare for the holidays please feel free to share them here!


Tags: healthcare staffing payroll, Happy Holidays

Don’t Let the Affordable Care Act Penalties Sneak Up on You!

Posted by Tim Teague on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 06:30 AM

sneak-upAmidst the back and forth, the delays, and the political posturing surrounding the Affordable Care Act, DON’T FORGET THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT PENALTIES for employers for non-compliance.   The penalties are only for employers of 50 or more FTEs, but if your firm suddenly hits the 50 FTE threshold, penalties can accrue monthly. 

In simple terms, if you offer health insurance that covers at least 60% of costs, and the cost to the employee is not more than 9.5% of their family income, you should be safe. However, if just one employee elects to participate in an exchange, or receive a tax credit outside your company, your company will be flagged for non-compliance. Despite proof of valid coverage, you will need a paper trail that confirms compliance for every employee. This is where electronic signature technology can uncomplicate your administrative burden and provide a legal paper trail to assist in complete compliance. The penalty could be a minimum of $3,000, but for a small firm with 50 employees, it could be as much as $40,000 annually!

We have a sample document that is already loaded by our suppler, YouSignHere. This assures that each employee has been offered coverage, and what their election was.  

If you are interested in seeing that document and how to use YouSignHere for your healthcare election coverage forms please click below and we will be happy to send it to you for download.

Tags: Affordable Healthcare Act, YouSignHere

3 Features of YouSignHere medical staffing agency’s can’t live without

Posted by Julie Moore on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 @ 06:00 AM

It is no secret that You Sign Here, an electronic signature system, and BlueSky Medical Staffing Software are tightly integrated.  In fact, You Sign Here was developed by one of our owners in response to support issues we had with other e-Signature platforms. But over the years we have worked hard to make the You Sign Here integration so seamless that it is almost too good to be true.

What makes You Sign Here so special for healthcare staffing? 


1.  Save time and energy with the signature sequence workflows 

In healthcare staffing, agencies run into the issue of needing a thousand signatures on a million documents before a healthcare professional can go to work.  Now that maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I am talking about, right?  Not only does the HCP need to sign a contract and other documents, but so does the facility and if you are an managed service provider (MSP) then the subcontracting agency needs to sign many documents as well.

With the BlueSky/You Sign Here integration documents can be pre-configured to have roles.  What are roles?  It’s where certain signers fill out and sign certain fields before it moves to the next signer.  For example, if you are an MSP the facility signs the contract first, then it is sent to the subcontractor to fill out and sign, then onto the healthcare professional before it finally lands in the agency’s email for a final signature. After all of that is complete the signed and completed document automatically uploads into your BlueSky system.

Imagine all of the Fedex fees and time involved with a paper contract?

2.  Error Free Documents – yes this is possible!

One of the biggest issues with a standalone e-signature platform is someone has to take information and type it into the document before sending it for signature.  Anytime a human is involved and needs to type data from one system to the other system leaves the document open to errors.

The “mail merge integration” with BlueSky allows users to insert information from their BlueSky Medical Staffing Software system into any document.  No, this is not too good to be true.  This is what happens when you have a tight integration between two systems.

For example, some fields can be preloaded into any document such healthcare professional demographic information like names, date of birth, address, specialty to name a few as well as contract information such as start date, facility address, credentials required to start and rates.

At BlueSky we know the hold up a healthcare staffing agency can have when the I’s are not dotted and the T’s are not crossed on a contract.  Without an accurate contract the HCP could miss a start and cause a domino effect of problems for every party involved.  This is how the mail merge feature comes to the rescue by eliminating errors and getting HCPs to work faster and easier!

3.  Have complete documents and never have an missed field again

We have seen the frustration when a long awaited contract lands in our inbox with incomplete or wrong information loaded by the signer.  For example the signer has missed a digit on their social security number or forgot to initial a page.  Who know how many days it will take to get back in touch with this person and get it complete.

You Sign Here has very configurable behaviors and the ability to enforce rules before a document can be signed and completed.  It is so advanced that a user can preconfigure a document to have if/then statements in a document. You are probably thinking, “What is an IF/THEN statement... I am not a programmer.”  In normal terminology this means if a user marks a certain field like “Yes or No” to one of your fields THEN they must answer another subsequent field.  What a timesaver for all those involved to keep careless costly mistakes from happening!

Many medical staffing agencies are finding that the Affordable Care Act is already causing more paperwork for 2015 and there needs to be an efficient way to complete this paperwork. Using all of the features listed above could really help you get ready for 2015 with minimal effort.

If you are a BlueSky user be sure to attend the Community Training on Friday and we will be discussing how to integrate You Sign Here to streamline your staffing life!

Tags: electronic signature, YouSignHere

7 items not to miss when choosing a healthcare staffing software

Posted by Julie Moore on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 06:30 AM

There are questions that should be asked during every sales demo for healthcare staffing software and these questions are missed almost every time I do a demo. There are some basic questions that I think NEED TO BE ASKED that people just DON’T ASK. 

Shhhh... It’s my secret

So listen up if you are searching for new healthcare staffing software, because I am going to tell you my secret.  Everything that you need to be asking my competition and me before buying.    

If you don’t know me you are probably thinking, “Who is this girl and what gives her the authority to tell me the questions I am forgetting to ask.”  I have been in IT related sales for almost 10 years serving as the Director of Sales four of the last six years at BlueSky.  And I can tell you after working the help desk and as an implementation specialist at BlueSky the software you choose needs to be a good fit.  Period.

Here are 7 questions that you can’t forget to ask when choosing a healthcare staffing software.

1.  List of references with at least one that is no longer a client

My guess is you are asking for references but taking references to the next level is so important. Talk to a client that has left the software and what forced them to move systems.  If you cannot get this type of reference then this is an immediate red flag.

2.  The cost may not seem what it really is kind of like Amy in Gone Girl (ha ha)

gone_girl_imageHidden Costs.. they are everywhere. I call it the cell phone company affect. Does the company charge for integrating systems already in place like Facebook and Twitter? How are these charges applied?  Are they upfront about their costs and is there price protection for the future? You don’t want a huge bill the first month and not sure where it came from or find out that you cannot do half the items the salesperson demoed to you because there will be a significant increase in cost.

3.  100% Rule BEWARE!

A very wise CIO of a public staffing agency once told me that if you can get your software to cover 80% of what you need out of the box then you are doing great.  If a salesperson says that their amazing software can do everything they are lying – it’s just not true.  There is not one staffing agency I have come across in my tenure that staffs the same way as the other guy.  Each healthcare staffing agency is unique and has unique scenarios. Insist the salesperson show you how to do your job by teaching the salesperson about your processes so they can show you how to business in the new system.  This is crucial because you don’t want to stick a square peg in a round hole.  

4.  What is the SLA and does the software have a strong history of SLA Performance?

Your staffing software will be running your business and if this software has downtime then you could have some serious side affects and costs associated it such as payroll not getting out on time or worse your business comes to a complete halt.  So this is so important to ask and again while you are talking to the references ask this question too. 

5.  Can you demonstrate successful similar deployments?

I cannot begin to explain how important the rollout process is for a successful adoption of the new software. The salesperson should be able to explain or demonstrate a successful deployment and how they see the implementation working.  Oh, and while you are at it... ask the references in detail about the deployment process and overall adoption from your staff. 

6.  Can I configure the system and put controls in place through the interface without development costs?

There are things that a system should be able to do without a huge development fee.  In BlueSky we have over 1200 permissions that can be turned on and off without the need of developers.  This is huge because you do not want to be paying development costs every time you need a small change done.  I always say BlueSky is configurable to a fault as most SAAS systems should be!

7.  If I choose to leave, how easy is it to get my data and files?

Cloud-BackupThis is a problem I run across time and time again.  Companies want to leave a certain staffing software but they are unable to do anything because there data and files are being held hostage.  This is a wrong approach on so many levels because the data is technically yours and you should be able to have a backup at anytime.  We have worked around this problem when converting clients into BlueSky and if you leave we are not holding your data hostage. It is yours and you should have a backup of data as often as you need. 

Take my warning...

I always say at the end of the day if I do not feel if the customer is a good fit for BlueSky then I don’t want their business.  I am not trying to be harsh but why would I want to put you and my team through a forced sale.  It never works out well. 

So please heed my warning and take my final advice: Buying staffing software is like buying a house – it’s a HUGE decision and you wouldn’t move into a house that has two bedrooms when you need four.  Don’t rush the process and make sure that you are a good fit for the software. Ask the tough questions and make sure that you are not just being sold into something that isn’t what it seems to be.

Tags: healthcare recruiting and staffing software, Data Converstion, web-based staffing software, BlueSky Demo

States’ Medicaid Expansion and the Confederacy

Posted by Tim Teague on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 04:19 PM

One of the tenets of the Affordable Care Act struck down by the Supreme Court was the States’ mandated expansion of Medicaid. This segment of the legislation was seen as an “over-reach” of states rights. The choice for expansion was returned to the individual states.

A map showing the states’ expansion of Medicaid has an interesting historic corollary. (Figure 1) A quick view of the map shows a complete block of southern states that have chosen not to expand their Medicaid system. Two notable exceptions to this southern trend are Arkansas and Kentucky. These two states have had a Democrat governorship with early support for the Affordable Care Act.


An examination of the second map, (Figure 2), is an 1860 map of the U.S. depicting “free states” and “slave states”.  


Excepting the large areas of the 1860 map where territories had not yet become states, the two maps have a lot in common.  

Making sense of today’s map in relation to the 1860 map is probably more a testament to the 10th amendment to the constitution than the acceptance of slavery. The fervor leading to the succession of states from the union was centered on the ability to escape onerous legislation imposed by the central government. Although the 10th amendment become law many years later, in summary it states that the “federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the states or the people.” 

The very states that created the confederacy still hold dear the concept of federalism.  This political concept maintains that sovereignty must be shared governance between the states and the central government.  It is too early to predict the budgetary results for states expanding Medicaid versus those that didn’t, but it is clear that Federal mandates imposed on southern states will never be met with a warm embrace.  


The Future of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Posted by Tim Teague on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 03:11 PM

capitolThe recent turn of events during the mid-term elections have the two political parties at odds over the future of the Affordable Care Act.  As a business owner, it is certainly instructive to take a look at the possible outcomes as the Republican-controlled Senate joins a Republican majority in the House.

A very wise CEO of a large hospital chain once told me, “we don’t get emotionally involved in the back and forth of politics, we merely respond in the most advantageous manner to our shareholders.”  I considered that a valuable lesson in the ever-changing nature of politics.

Consider for instance, the following quotations:

“…will usher in Federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we know it in this country”

“We oppose …….because foreign experience has shown that socialized medicine is harmful to both the doctor and the patient, primarily to the patient. He suffers most .”

“….we cannot stand idly by now, as the Nation is urged to embark on an ill-conceived adventure in government medicine, the end of which no one can see, and from which the patient is certain to be the ultimate sufferer.” 

Pretty harsh words from elected officials, and these are just a few of the  inflammatory remarks surrounding this Federal health insurance mandate.

The surprise element of these quotes is they were not aimed at The Affordable Care Act, but the Medicare legislation enacted in the mid-60’s. It should be noted however, that the party that voted this legislation into law maintained a majority in subsequent Congressional sessions.  

No one knows the fate of Obamacare as the 114th congress convenes in January, but history tells us the loudest opponents don’t always sway the vote.

Tags: Affordable Care Act

ACA & SHOP - How it affects small healthcare staffing agencies

Posted by Tim Teague on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 09:12 AM

SHOP-healthcareThe Small Business Health Options Program, (SHOP) is a program with the affordable care act for employers with less that 50 FTEs. It is a plan that helps small businesses including healthcare staffing agencies provide health coverage to their employees. There are several feature of this plan that allow flexibility for the employer. Employers can control which plan is offered, and how much their contribution to the plan will be.

There are four levels of coverage that are offered to best match the needs of the company and employees.  An addition feature is that any company that has less than 25 FTEs may qualify for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit that may be as much as 50% of the premium costs. This tax credit is only available for plans purchased through the SHOP program. 

The four plans available in the SHOP offering are called “Bronze”, “Silver”, “Gold”, and “Platinum”.  

A cursory view of the plans can best be described as percentages of total cost of care:

  • Bronze:     60%
  • Silver:       70%
  • Gold:        80%
  • Platinum:  90%

The following states allow employees to individually select which level they want, with a fixed amount contributed by the employer:

  • Arkansas
  • North Dakota
  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • Georgia 
  • Tennessee
  • Indiana  
  • Texas
  • Iowa
  • Virginia
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin
  • Nebraska
  • Wyoming

In all other states, employers must select one plan, then all employees participating must stay with the employer-chosen plan.  

We would love to hear from you!  Tell us your experience with the affordable care act as a healthcare staffing agency in the comments below.

Tags: Affordable Care Act

What we can learn from LinkedIn’s Reorg: Bigger isn’t always Better

Posted by Julie Moore on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 02:32 PM

With the holidays approaching, we will hear the saying, “Good things come in small packages.”  For women, this usually means visions of diamonds and jewelry and for guys they are fantasizing of a key to the sports car they’ve always wanted.

I recently read an article in Venture Beat about how LinkedIn reorganized their prized data science department and downsizing has been a really good thing for them.  Their article states that by eliminating these roles they, “sped up decision-making, benefited the hiring process, and brought together people who perform similar functions.”  In other words, they streamlined their processes!  When it comes to healthcare staffing software, I feel the same saying holds true... Sometimes bigger isn’t always better.

True Story

A couple of years ago, I was demoing a large public company who was trying to make a decision to go with BlueSky verses our main competitor, whose name shall not be mentioned, but who is MUCH MUCH larger and has the aura of their largeness all around them.  Their sales team was using the smallness of our company as a reason why this particular prospective should choose them instead, as they often do when we go head to head.   

Toward the end of the sales cycle, with the decision quickly approaching, the VP of IT asked me boldly, “Are you concerned about the size of your company and its ability to handle our company?”  I paused for a second, a little frustrated that this was STILL an issue, and said, “No, honestly I think that we are better off and you will be too because we are smaller.  We have the ability to be agile and make decisions as they come, we are not held to VC money and haven’t been sold to another company that doesn’t understand healthcare staffing.  Ultimately, we have control over our destiny.”

I think that answer in the end won us the deal and we showed this client over and over again how BlueSky does healthcare staffing software right. 

Fast forward a few years later and we are still small and agile and have control over our own destiny.  This customer in particular is still amazed on how well we take care of them.  Our team is still small but has the ability to pick up the phone or walk in to the other room and talk to anyone in our company, including our President.  Our customers love this because they get straight answers quicker and easier than dealing with our giant competitor. 


And for company meetings, instead of boring board rooms and catered lunches we go to hip spots in downtown Nashville, like the Flipside, where we talk shop, compare pictures of kids, grandkids and puppies and enjoy each others company.  I am still amazed on how we can get so much company business done in such a fun way! 

Being small is a novel idea in this industry and we are planning to stay that way for a long time to come. So if you are interested in getting away from the giant and aren’t sure how to do it, feel free to contact our small but friendly sales staff and we will be happy to guide your way! 

Tags: BlueSky Medical Staffing Software, healthcare recruiting and staffing software, web-based staffing software

Healthcare Staffing Agencies and Affordable Care Act: A Taxing Issue

Posted by Tim Teague on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 11:30 AM

Many healthcare staffing agencies that have over 50 FTEs are looking at the cost (or Tax) associated with NOT complying with the Affordable Care Act.  In 2015, employers with more than 100 FTEs will need to cover 70% of their full-time employees and by 2016 employers with more than 50 FTEs will have to cover substantially all employees, (95% with margin of error of 5%). 

tax_calculatorThe annual fee for non-compliance is $2,000 on an annual basis, but it is actually calculated on a month-to-month basis for employers. The fee could rise to $3,000 if at least one employee receives a premium tax credit because employer coverage is not affordable or employer coverage does not cover at least 60% of total healthcare costs.

There is only one possibility that there will be no penalty (tax) for any company with over 50 FTEs that does NOT offer any health insurance; no employee receives a premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsidy in an Exchange. When considering all the possibilities for 50 + employees, the likelihood is very small that not one employee would receive a tax credit, or cost sharing subsidy.

Here are the balance of the possible combinations and their impact:

Employer of over 50 FTES does not offer health coverage and at least one (1) employee receives a premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsides


Penalty of $2,000 per year times the number of FTEs over 30. (i.e. 60 FTEs would result in a penalty of $2,000 for employees # 31 to 60, or $60,000.

Employer of over 50 FTEs offers health coverage


If the insurance does not cover at least 60% of the covered healthcare expenses of a typical population, then the penalty will be $3,000 per employee that receives a tax credit as a result of the disqualified employer insurance. (this penalty cannot exceed $2,000 times the number of FTEs over 30.) i.e. total FTEs =75, then limit would be $2,000 for FTEs 31 to 75, or $90,000. Since $90,000 is the cap, the $3,000 penalty could only apply to the first 30 FTEs that received a tax credit. 

If the insurance DOES provide coverage for at least 60% of covered healthcare expenses but it requires a payment of more than 9.5% of the family income for the employer coverage, then the penalty will be $3,000 per employee that receives a tax credit as a result of the disqualified employer insurance. (this penalty cannot exceed $2,000 times the number of FTEs over 30.) i.e. total FTEs =75, then limit would be $2,000 for FTEs 31 to 75, or $90,000. Since $90,000 is the cap, the $3,000 penalty could only apply to the first 30 FTEs that received a tax credit.

If the employer-offered coverage provides at least 60% coverage as in (a) above, and does not cost more than 9.5% of annual FTE income, then there is no penalty for the employer.

Despite this relative straightforward explanation, there are sure to be grey areas in defining 60% coverage in specific markets, as well as some further explanation on the 9.5% of total family income.

5 Halloween Costumes for Healthcare Staffing

Posted by Julie Moore on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 12:25 PM

Now, you probably have your work Halloween party coming up this week and want to make sure you have something appropriate but different, right?  Well the BlueSky team brainstormed and came up with a great list of costumes specifically for healthcare staffing. Check them out!  

1.  Travel Nurse

This is probably the easiset thing to do as a recruiter.  All you need to do is grab some scrubs, a stethoscope, a globe and then make a Google Pin hat out of some cardboard. 

2.  BlueSky Man

For those of you who were at the Healthcare Staffing Summit 2012 in Las Vegas you got to see Rick Ault, our implementation specialist dressed up as BlueSky man.  Its a pretty simple costume with a blue spandex suit, blue mask, blue cape, and of course have BlueSky running on your iPad. 


3.  BLS Card

For those medical staffing credentialers that want to do something simple yet funny to all of their coworkers then dress up as a BLS card.  You can make the card body sign by printing out a large American Heart Association BLS Card, pasting it to cardboard and then hanging it from your body.  


4.  Prophecy Healthcare’s Anita Nurse

We love Prophecy Healthcare and Anita Nurse.  She is the fun loving teddy bear that they have been giving out at shows for the past several years.  You may even have an Anita Nurse sitting on your desk.  For this costume you need a bear outfit, a stethoscope, a surgical mask and a nurses hat.  


5.  Jason Lander from Staffing Robot

Finally we save the best for last and if you know Jason Lander from Staffing Robot then you know he has a certain recognizable style. Since he works with so many healthcare staffing agencies I thought this was very appropriate.  All you need is a fedora, jeans, vest and of course some cool shoes.  This is quintessential Jason.


We would love to see you and what you decide to dress up as for your office halloween party.  Please tweet pictures of your costume to @blueskymss #healthcarestaffinghalloween.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Tags: halloween, Healthcare Staffing

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