According to Margaret Schulte, education manager for SSM Health Care’s Information Center, the Information Center functions as an education department, providing the various entities of the organization with the tools they need to create and deliver traditional and online learning in addition to tracking and evaluating learning, and producing reports to document training completion to meet regulatory requirements, learning initiatives and management requirements.
The major challenge in getting training out to the hospital staffs, Schulte said, is that the employees do not have easy access to the computers they need to complete the training.
“There’s computers in the hospital, but they’re for patient information,” said Schulte. “They’re not something that you can sit down and start doing a course on, nor would it be appropriate to do that sitting out with patients walking by you.”
SSMHC has dealt with this challenge by creating computer training rooms and separate computer library rooms and installing separate PCs located close to the nurses’ workstations. This way, nurses and hospital staff members have easy access to the tools they need to complete their mandatory training requirements.
Using Pathlore’s LMS, SSMHC ensures that it is meeting regulatory requirements, such as those laid out by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The LMS, along with online learning and Web conferencing, help SSMHC deliver and track training, said Schulte.
Facing a nationwide nursing shortage, Schulte said that the other reason SSMHC chose to deliver online learning was because the nurses asked for it.
“The job market is very tight, and it’s difficult to recruit nurses,” said Schulte. “So when we asked them what they wanted, one of the higher priority items was that they would like to have online courses for their mandatories, so that they could use traditional training time for the leadership-type courses.”
After implementing the LMS and online learning, time spent on mandatory training fell 18 percent in the first half of 2002 alone. “Our goal is 25 percent time reduction across the system,” said Schulte, “and if we do that it would save $5.5 million just in terms of productivity.”
And, of course, by keeping its employees satisfied, SSMHC is able to improve employee retention. “It costs money to hire new employees,” said Schulte. “If we decrease turnover by 1 percent, the result would be an annual savings of $1.48 million.”
The main benefit of the LMS is simply being able to track and prove the completion of education, said Schulte.
“There are initiatives such as corporate responsibility that come from the federal government, and HIPAA training that comes from the federal government, and you must prove that your employees have been trained,” said Schulte. “Having a learning management system you can monitor that, and you can pull up a report that says who hasn’t been trained and make sure that all of your employees are trained.”