TruServeTM, a UND-developed software, helps rural health offices across the nation track activities and prove value.
Shedding the sticky notes By Juan Miguel Pedraza It’s report time. So what’s a rural health organization administrator to do with the sticky notes adorning the computer? “Well, we know that’s how many folks used to track activities, and they had to gather a variety of documents and notes to create their reports,” said TruServeTM Coordinator Kelly Quigley in her office at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. “In fact, in a few organizations, that’s still how they do it.” TruServeTM is a Web-based tracking system that enables organizations to conveniently monitor and report progress. UND Center for Rural Health staff initially developed TruServeTM to address its own needs for tracking and reporting. Outside organizations began using the system, and it’s now become the most utilized activity-tracking tool by rural health care agencies across the nation. There are currently three Center for Rural Health staff members — Kristine Sande, Maren Niemeier, and Barry Pederson —who work with Quigley as a team on the continued development of TruServeTM. “We’re all across the country,” said Quigley. “It’s used as a tool mostly by state offices of rural health to track and report everything that they need to do for their funding agencies.” That entails tracking the technical assistance that such agencies provide to rural health facilities, including clinics and hospitals, in their regions. “We use it daily,” said Mark Griffin, chief operating officer of the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, who discovered TruServeTM at a regional meeting of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). “As I do most of the reports, it helps me get performance indicators accurately, track employee activities, map where our work is focused, and overall more accurately and consistently capture and report about work we do,” Griffin said. “We’ve been using it three years solidly.” “TruServeTM helps us provide consistent accountability,” Griffin said. And that’s the main point of the system. “We work closely with TruServeTM users to ensure that it meets their needs for tracking, coordinating communication, monitoring progress and creating reports,” said Quigley, who once worked for Special Olympics as a database developer and administrator. “It’s all about helping them show what work they do and demonstrate their impact and reach, including the technical assistance that they provide. TruServeTM allows agencies that use it to say, ‘Here’s what we do and here’s why you should continue to fund us.’” The main reason it’s so popular with rural health organizations is that it was purpose-built. “It was designed from the beginning around rural health agency needs, formatted with them in mind, using their terminology,” said Quigley, a UND alumna. For Kylie Nissen, senior project coordinator, North Dakota Office
PHOTO BY JACKIE LORENTZ
The TruServeTM team at the Center for Rural Health (CRH) includes (left to right) Barry Pederson, Web developer; Kelly Quigley, program coordinator; Maren Niemeier, information resources manager; and Kristine Sande, CRH associate director.
of Rural Health (which is based at UND’s Center for Rural Health), TruServeTM answered a lot of needs. “We had been looking for a system to track our activities because the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (headed by former UND faculty member Mary Wakefield) requires detailed reports of our activities,” said Nissen, who’s working on a Master of Public Health degree at UND. “Prior to TruServeTM, it was sticky notes and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.” “Now we’ve been running TruServeTM for five years, including being part of the early testing of the system, and we’ve found that compared with the sticky note-spreadsheet ‘system,’ we save 40 hours at least,” said Nissen, who also is executive director of the North Dakota Rural Health Association. “Now we can prepare our reports in 15 minutes, and we can pull up a lot of much more meaningful information and prove that we’re making a difference.” TruServeTM is deployed as a licensed product, which is how it “earns its keep.” “We own the intellectual property and have a national organization that manages its licensing for use by others,” said Quigley, adding that a recently launched redesigned version of TruServeTM included reporting templates that will facilitate ease of use. TruServeTM is offered to rural health agencies in all 50 states through a nonexclusive license agreement with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). “The licensing model was designed for maximum deployment around the country,” said Michael Moore, associate vice president for UND’s Intellectual Property Commercialization and Economic Development office. “I believe it is working very well.” “It’s a very dynamic system, completely customizable, and it’s mobile-responsive, so it works well on smartphones and tablets, too,” Quigley said. “No need to install it because it’s Web-based, backed up daily on three servers.” “Ultimately TruServeTM helps people in rural areas,” said Nissen. n
TruServeTM facts • Created in 2007 by UND’s Center for Rural Health. • Web-based tracking system allows organizations to conveniently monitor and report progress. • Allows users to capture the activities of staff; information later used to provide detailed and accurate reports for staff, the organization, funders, decision makers, legislators and others. • Information within TruServeTM is available 24/7and provides the ability to generate reports, maps, charts, and more with a few clicks. UND Discovery n Spring 2014 n 5