Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland, Calif.-based, group-practice health care program, serves 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 156,000 employees.
The organization’s Northern California region serves 3.3 million members. Each year, the Northern California region taps more than 400 employees to become managers.
“Learning in the workplace is about sharing knowledge that makes people better at what they do,” said Bob Leydorf, e-learning program manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region (KP NCAL). “Our leadership asked us to create instruction that would give managers the essential knowledge and skills to successfully run departments and meet our members’ needs.”
The NCAL e-learning team wanted to create high-impact training and quickly package that learning so managers could tap into it through a variety of ways, including a computer, handheld device, workbook or CD.
The Northern California region’s executive leadership knew that building managers’ understanding about leadership would require a program that was focused and available around the clock. As part of its program, the regional learning and development department suggested using a learning content management system (LCMS) that facilitates knowledge sharing and training by capturing, organizing and delivering different kinds of learning.
An LCMS promised to streamline the process for creating the training KP NCAL managers would need. The LCMS also would provide Kaiser Permanente’s subject-matter experts and reviewers with tools for not only editing courses online, but also giving feedback in a collaborative way.
With an OutStart LCMS in place, Leydorf and Senior Project Manager and Essentials for Managers (EFM) Program Manager Sharon Weinberg set about creating the online component of the EFM program that launched in late 2007 for more than 4,000 managers across the Northern California Region.
The EFM program currently includes 27 Web-based lessons with nearly 45 courses planned overall. The Web-based training consists of short, interactive lessons on topics such as Kaiser Permanente’s Labor Management Partnership, budgeting, employee wellness, nursing management, diversity, recruitment, performance management and patient safety. According to Weinberg, each course takes 20 minutes to complete and focuses on the most critical information and tools needed to build knowledge about a given topic.
“Managers can learn or review vital information on demand, and up to the last minute, in a format that is timely, targeted and efficient,” Weinberg said.
Leydorf’s colleagues can, for example, take content for a lesson about patient safety and reuse elements of it to build a larger course, say, on the fundamentals of nursing. Once a course is built, KP NCAL can quickly adapt the course for a handheld device or CD.
Since launching the EFM program, Kaiser Permanente’s NCAL e-learning team said it is not only producing courses 50 percent faster but also getting rave reviews about the convenience and quality of the learning produced.
“The collaborative capabilities of the LCMS make it possible for people to both create and take courses more easily,” Leydorf said.
To date, more than 3,500 managers have completed at least one EFM Web-based training session, saving Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region about $370,000 in four months. Anticipated cost savings for this region are expected to top $1 million in one year. EFM now is being scaled for use nationwide at Kaiser Permanente for more than 10,000 managers.
“EFM is a success in NCAL, and other [Kaiser Permanente] regions are expressing interest,” said Gay Westfall, human resources senior vice president for the Northern California Region and one of EFM’s executive sponsors. She called the training program “groundbreaking” and praised the EFM team for “contributing critical, just-in-time, turnkey training that will help the organization meet its goals through frontline manager education.”
More than 90 percent of the learners taking EFM training have a 75 percent or higher level of confidence that the education will make them a successful leader within six months.