Web-based training leads to cost and time savings for Illinois-based health care group.
SwedishAmerican Health System, a not-for-profit, locally governed health care group headquartered in Rockford, IL, serves 12 counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Hospitals around the country are struggling to meet the ever-growing mandates on the health care system. In addition to internal policies, SwedishAmerican must also follow the regulations set by governing bodies such as HIPAA and JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations).
More than 3,000 SwedishAmerican employees and volunteers must complete mandatory training during an annual safety fair held in a conference room. In addition to employee salary and time away from work, the training department endured the cost of off-site employee travel, training staff, and material expenses totaling $142,833 in 2004.
SwedishAmerican needed a learning platform capable of managing and delivering training in a convenient, accessible way. It had to assist employees and volunteers in complying with a myriad of regulations, ensure they were knowledgeable and skillful in their fields, attract and retain employees, and provide an easier solution to track learning activities and measure program completion.
MANAGED LEARNING SERVICES
After an extensive review, SwedishAmerican found GeoLearning’s wide range of managed learning services to be the ideal solution for its training needs. SwedishAmerican leveraged GeoLearning’s technology platforms and training services to create a comprehensive program for employee and volunteer training.
In July 2004, SwedishAmerican Corporate University launched, deploying GeoLearning’s web-based GeoMaestro management platform. The system centralizes and automates the entire learning management process, making the administration of enterprise learning and development both effective and efficient. The web-based learning platform helps drive the acquisition of knowledge and skills needed for the group to meet strict health care regulations and field highly competent employees.
All the functionality is delivered over the internet so no additional software or hardware is required. GeoLearning also provides vendor management services, so all courseware that runs on SwedishAmerican Corporate University, regardless of content provider, is integrated, hosted, and serviced by GeoLearning. The provider also offers internet hosting, security, and maintenance services, content vendor management, and 24×7 help-desk support for SwedishAmerican employees and administrators as part of the three-year learning services contract.
“We researched LMS vendors for over two years and finally chose GeoLearning out of all competitors for their product flexibility and strong market lead,” said Sheri Cornelius, director of organizational development for SwedishAmerican. “We can run all our health care-specific courses on GeoLearning’s web-based platform, and we were impressed with their strong partnerships with courseware vendors.”
SwedishAmerican also deployed several modules to enhance organization-wide learning. To manage instructor-led training and facilitate a blended learning environment, the health network uses GeoLearning’s Online Class & Event Scheduler. Its analytics are used to measure training impact and the effectiveness of learning investments.
The health care network also automated its corporate library using tools from the provider. “The online product library system was key for us because as a teaching hospital, we required a resource that could be accessed from our remote locations and made it convenient to searching for learning materials and information,” added Cornelius. “Our library has gone from a traditional library with columns of books and journals to a contemporary learning center that employees can visit or access from any point within the health system and throughout SwedishAmerican.”
In just its first year of deployment, SwedishAmerican’s training and development effort has produced significant cost-savings and return on investment. Moving mandatory safety and compliance training from a resource-intensive physical location to the internet has saved time, money, and expense. The new online safety fair saved the hospital more than $85,000 in 2004. Almost 33,000 courses have been registered for, and the completion rate has skyrocketed to 99.7 percent.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
In the future, SwedishAmerican will look to provide additional organization-wide training via SwedishAmerican Corporate University. New employee orientation training will be one way to consolidate staff resources and introduce internal policies and procedures. Cornelius said she hopes employee orientation can be consolidated from what is currently an eight-hour investment into just a few hours. Nurses and physicians requiring continuing education credits will also be able to access the required courses via the internet.
“SwedishAmerican will offer a truly blended learning environment designed to improve the skills of our employees,” said Cornelius. “Through a series of web-based courses, instructor-led training, and hands-on experience, we want to position ourselves as a teaching hospital that truly holds a competitive advantage because of our commitment to employee education.”