When a medical center for children in a major city underwent its annual clinical system upgrade, it was anything but routine.
In addition to the standard annual Cerner Millennium software application upgrade, innovative 406-bed hospital participated in the Alpha implementation of Cerner’s CareMobile. CareMobile is a hand-held, point-of-care solution. It uses bar codes on each patient’s identification wristband to track medication administration and online clinical documentation.
This advanced technology provides patient safety by ensuring correct medication administration to the patient – both dosage and time.
The impact these integrated technologies had on the day-to-day operations and patient care was far-reaching. Moreover, integration required a substantial workflow change in many departments.
At that time, the go-live deadline was only six months away. The IS training department had an imposing task: training the majority of hospital staff and doctors on the new systems.
The CMC information system’s advanced development director knew the end result would further enhance the center’s operations and patient care. In this case, specific objectives included creating workflow efficiencies, integrating clinical business data and processes, and actively supporting operational improvements. Accordingly, the director recognized the training department faced a significant challenge to meet the substantial training need.
Finding a Solution Provider
Consequently, the development director turned to Houston-based Synergistx for a training solution. This high-growth, learning management company had proven expertise in providing solutions for some of America’s leading companies. Synergistx first assessed the current training department then developed and implemented all aspects of training for this mammoth-scale system roll-out.
Synergistx worked with the development director to design a training strategy. The plan defined procedures for teaching users how to maximize the benefits of the technology in multiple departments. Altogether, the new training structure satisfied each of the following requirements:
- Familiarize employees with the aspects of the technology they would most often utilize -quickly and efficiently
- Provide realistic training scenarios prior to the new software launch on a department-by-department basis
- Allow employees to review elements of the program quickly and on an as-needed basis
- Structure the training so the hospital could continue to function fully while training a majority of its employees and doctors
- Complete the entire process within a few weeks
To promote the process, Synergistx consultants also helped screen potential IS training department new hires. These new hires would support training on an on-going basis.
After initial assessment of the training department, Synergistx analyzed the data and recommended a unique, blended training strategy.
By integrating a computer-based-training (CBT) strategy with focused instructor-led classes, Synergistx was able to maximize efficiency. Covering the system basics in the CBTs and teaching more detailed, department-individualized material in a classroom setting facilitated the most expedient learning.
Synergistx created nine intricately detailed simulation training modules to replicate the software. In this case, every user received relevant training scenarios for use with a particular aspect of Millennium and CareMobile. Moreover, Synergistx developed a wide variety of training scenarios and interfaces for multiple user groups. Physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and dietary aides all trained with specific information pertinent to their individual jobs.
Employees were able to pace as well as complete online training from their own computers. As a result, the length of time away from their departments decreased. This method also allowed employees to review lessons multiple times if necessary. Once employees completed individual training, instructors conducted multiple one- to two-hour classes on the specific detailed functions for each department.
In direct response to this component of training, the development director asserted, “The CBT was great. Even though they covered system basics, much of the training was complex. Using a CBT gave the employees more than one shot to learn the material.”
In view of the constraints, it was crucial to maintain efficiency and adhere to a tight schedule. Synergistx recommended that CBT training be a prerequisite for attending the more advanced instructor-led classes. This prerequisite policy allowed the instructor-led training to focus on the more complex aspects of the programs at the center.
The development director had strong feelings in support of this decision as well. “Requiring and enforcing the CBT classes as a prerequisite to the instructor-led classes was an excellent decision. In doing so, it ensured that all employees had some basic knowledge before they attempted the more advanced classroom training.”
According to the director, understanding there would be strict enforcement of pre-class preparation prompted employees to complete the CBTs before coming to class. “It was a very wise use of everyone’s time. And I think those who did prepare for the class were pleased to learn they hadn’t wasted their time.”
One of the most critical user groups was the nursing staff based on their substantial usage of the new systems. To properly equip this vital group, Synergistx set aside special areas on the various floors for a clinical educator. Various controls, such as timed staffing, helped maintain efficiency in these areas. For example, when an employee requested additional training on a certain function, the clinical educator worked with the employee right there in the department. The educator explained the steps as they concurrently worked through the problem.
“These specialty training areas and classes really helped to minimize the disruption to normal hospital operations. Which, as it turns out, is really important to us,” maintained an IS manager.
According to the development director, “Response from employees was very positive despite the change in many employee workflows and duties. Overall, this helped build our culture of care.”
“I credit the positive response to the training and the various formats we used,” she further asserted. “The CBTs, clinic educators and the detailed classroom instructions combined to create a very thorough training program for us.”
The blended training module designed by Synergistx was the right prescription for the medical center. Synergistx helped the center quickly assess the training needs. Synergistx then used those needs to customize a plan that worked around the demands of a busy hospital. The overall structure provided realistic training for individualized users in an extremely tight time frame. From start to finish, the entire training project (including full-simulation software development and classes) only took fourteen weeks. Synergistx completed the project on time and on budget, which was just what the doctor ordered.