Last year, Americans spent nearly $2 trillion on health care. That’s 16 percent of the gross domestic product, more than any other nation. And the numbers promise to keep going up as the baby boomers get closer to retirement. Many people think the U.S. health care system potentially could do “more for less” in terms of improving quality and safety by better training health care professionals. Three years ago, John Muir Health (JMH) decided to do something about it.
JMH brings together two medical centers with a history of commitment to ensuring comprehensive, high-quality health care services remain in the community, offering an array of inpatient clinical treatment services, advanced technologies, hospital and other medical facilities and equipment. JMH also provides outpatient medical treatment services, medical research and community education and outreach programs.
JMH has sought to foster an organizational culture that respects employees, supports them in developing their skills and talents and encourages superior performance — education improves patient care and efficiency, achieves regulatory and accreditation compliance and reduces turnover.
Up-to-date training is essential at health care organizations because of all the ever-changing regulations and compliance standards. This is in addition to producing training documentation that is required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulatory agencies.
In response to these growing requirements JMH launched an initiative to select and implement a learning management system (LMS), as well as e-learning programs.
The objective was to address these issues, as well as to meet and manage current and future training needs, ensure standardized delivery of learning content, address efficient and effective ways to consistently document competency and provide flexible learning opportunities available 24×7 that mirrored the company’s work environment.
The process began with a LMS focus group and department survey to solicit feedback on availability, use and effectiveness of online training options for employees. The survey outcome and input from the focus group resulted in the definition of the LMS requirements. The project team gathered LMS vendor information, attended conferences and reviewed research.
The first “cut” was more than 15 LMS vendors. JMH selected five to do on-site product demonstrations, then the company narrowed it down to two choices, and both conducted live demonstrations. Additional feedback also was gathered from multiple users of both systems. All inquiries were directed at evaluating the level of user and/or administrator satisfaction with product and service.
Then, before making the final selection, JMH conducted multiple IT technical conference calls. Once the selection was made, the company formed an ongoing partnership with IT to design and deliver on the project scope.
But selecting the LMS was just the beginning of the even harder work: implementation. In order to ensure acceptance within the JMH culture, the implementation had to be done “smoothly right” from start to finish. JMH selected Lance Dublin’s I-3 Change Communications Model to use as the blueprint:
Inform: Make the Organization Aware
The first stage in JMH’s change communications plan was to generate awareness through information and messaging driven by marketing communications activities. First, it branded the LMS as “Learning Point: The Go-To Place.” This brand and the accompanying logo were then reinforced on posters, in presentations, at open houses, on pens and in a video. The goal was to inform learners, managers and the whole organization about both the projects goals and Learning Point in ways they could recognize, recall and remember.
Involve: Get the Organization Engaged
The second stage was generating engagement. JMH knew the necessary behavior change wouldn’t happen based solely on passively receiving information, so it created events and opportunities for everyone to ask questions and try it out for themselves. JMH also created a network of Learning Point department administrators to support learners where they work.
Integrate: Become Part of the Culture
The third stage is under way. JMH is looking for ways to align Learning Point with ongoing organizational processes, as well as new systems such as performance management. The goal is for it to become so well-accepted that it becomes a part of the everyday goings-on.
Within five months, JMH achieved a completion rate of more than 90 percent for the first assignment of courses. That means more than 36,000 unique courses were completed. The education department has been flooded with requests to put more courses on Learning Point, and there have been requests to turn on more features such as self-registration for instructor-led courses and access to elective e-learning courses.
But most importantly, in meetings across the organization, Learning Point is part of every conversation about employees and training. It has become a critical part of JMH’s culture.
Alice Villanueva is senior vice president of human resources for John Muir Health. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.