As one of the largest providers of health care insurance in Florida, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida serves more than 8.3 million people. With approximately 300 internal employees and 5,000 external employees distributed across the state, the company finds that providing continuous education can be a challenge. However, educating a distributed workforce is not the company’s only ongoing challenge. The complex nature of the insurance industry is just as, if not more, challenging.
“We’re heavily regulated both at the state and national level due to the complexity of health care, which involves finance, insurance and clinical content,” said Jep Larkin, director of sales communications, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “So when we are doing communications and training, it requires a bit more than other industries that don’t have content complexity.”
In fact, when regulatory or compliance issues arise, insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida are under strict time constraints to develop and deploy the necessary product solutions and the corresponding training initiatives. For example, when the federal government introduced Medicare Part D, a new prescription drug plan, into the marketplace in January 2006, the company had merely 30 days to educate both its internal and external employees on the ins-and-outs of Medicare Part D, and it had another 30 days to educate its workforce on the corresponding Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida-specific product.
“We could only communicate generic, high-level information about Medicare Part D to our employees, and we couldn’t talk to employees about specific products in the marketplace until a specific date. So we could only initially educate on what Medicare Part D was from a government perspective,” said Scott Bryant, director of sales training, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “As a result, we had a limited window of 30 days to educate both our internal and external employees on the Medicare Part D product in order to stay within compliance and another 30-day window to train the entire sales workforce on our Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida-specific product.”
In order to address these inherent challenges, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida realized that it needed a unique deployment tool to suit the needs of its internal and external workforce for continuous learning. As a result, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida implemented a rapid e-learning system. “Rapid e-learning tools add value for us because they are able to get just-in-time communications, messages or more robust training programs put together and distributed to a dispersed audience in a quicker fashion,” Bryant said. “For example with Medicare Part D, we were able to reach the audience we needed under those time constraints because of our rapid e-learning distribution strategy.”
But Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida’s rapid e-learning system not only improves its time to market, it also improves the consistency of its training messages and the ability for employees to train on demand. “Another point is that e-learning forces us to digitize the content early and that means that we can push it out to the Web easier for follow-up and reinforcement,” Larkin said. “When you are dealing with the old style of training, you are dealing with all these materials, cards and things. And getting those materials on the Web can become a little more perplexing sometimes.”
The company’s rapid e-learning system also allows Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida to monitor and track employee participation as well as each employee’s viewing duration. “The rapid e-learning system gives us the capability to set parameters of what constitutes completion of a course. So, I can set that they have to listen to every bit of the audio that is tied to that class, I can put that they have to look at every slide to gain completion status, etc.,” Bryant explained. “So, if employees don’t meet the set criteria, they don’t get a completed status for that class.”
Both Bryant and Larkin agree that the company has seen substantial results in terms of employee performance, increased productivity and cost savings as well. “It has increased both our internal and external employees’ productivity, and this is a sheer numbers game. When you bring someone into a classroom environment, the travel time to the classroom, the interactivity and then the travel time back into the market often equals lost opportunity,” Bryant explained. “But if it is a 15-minute e-learning module or a 30-minute e-learning module, employees are back on the phone making calls to agents or brokers instantaneously. Also, employees are able to pause the module to take important business calls or to perform other business tasks and go back to the module when the time is right. So basically you cut out many of the logistical costs that are associated with traditional training and development programs.”
–Cari McLean, firstname.lastname@example.org
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