By K.M. Lowe
As one of the nation’s top 10 pediatric health-care facilities, Seattle Children’s Hospital is staffed by nearly 5,000 employees and thousands of volunteers with an ongoing need for training. “Few organizations generate as much demand for continual training as hospitals,” explains Mary Alida Brisk, director of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Employees need training to meet regulatory requirements, satisfy hospital policies, learn new skills, and retain accreditation from their first day of work to their last.”
By 2007, staff at Seattle Children’s recognized that the hospital had outgrown the learning management system (LMS) it was using to track personnel training. The system had no reporting capabilities or customization options, and its business logic could not be modified. As a result, Seattle Children’s sought to replace its outdated LMS platform with the goal of strengthening and streamlining the hospital’s ability to deliver, track, and analyze training for its growing organization. Required functionality for a new LMS was determined by both clinical and non-clinical partners to include:
After identifying the desired criteria, the hospital issued a request for proposals (RFP) and began evaluating learning management systems. The evaluation team included representation from across the organization, including areas such as Nursing, Compliance, Information Systems, and Clinical Information Systems.
After an extensive review, Seattle Children’s selected a product called TrainingPartner from GeoMetrix Data Systems. GeoMetrix Data Systems is headquartered in Victoria, BC, and has been providing learning management systems to companies since 1992. “We chose TrainingPartner because it’s designed to support all of the functions we were looking for and because it’s flexible, so we can configure it to fit to our specific needs,” notes Brisk.
GeoMetrix specialists collaborated with Seattle Children’s to conduct a full needs analysis and implemented a pilot project to assess how TrainingPartner could best meet the organization’s needs. “Seattle Children’s wanted to be sure TrainingPartner was the right solution before committing a lot of resources, and a pilot project was the best way to do that,” says Brad Moran, a senior implementation specialist at GeoMetrix. “In a pilot project, the software is installed with limited licensing and is tested with multiple workstations and selected data.”
In spring 2008, Seattle Children’s initiated a full implementation of TrainingPartner. GeoMetrix trained critical staff members on-site and began tailoring the software to meet the organization’s needs. “A common theme that echoed throughout my meetings with Seattle Children’s was to make the online interface as simple and logical as possible for the ultimate end-users—the online enrollees—some of whom were not regular computer users,” Moran says.
To achieve that goal, GeoMetrix customized TrainingPartner standard pages so learners would see only the information they needed to complete their tasks, whether browsing upcoming classes, satisfying training requirements, or checking personal training history. A customized macro imported historical data about learners and course information from Seattle Children’s Human Resources system.
Since the launch in 2008, Seattle Children’s has upgraded the system several times. The initial implementation focused on core functionality and usage. The subsequent phases introduced more automation and complexity.
Seattle Children’s began using automated assignments, making it easy for learners to see what training is required and when it is due. “The assignments show up on the learner’s ‘To Do’ page so they can go in at any time and take their assigned courses,” explains Brisk.
The Learning Center’s customized Compliance Dashboard lets supervisors check the status of staff members’ training in real time, online. “Our senior leaders and key stakeholders track our results each year, and we are able to provide detailed reporting about our overall compliance rates all the way down to the individuals who are not in compliance. Senior leaders use this information to support their teams’ learning goals at the local level,” Brisk said.
GeoMetrix customized its out-of-the-box TrainingPartner application to meet Seattle Children’s current needs while also providing a solution flexible enough to accommodate the expected growth of the organization. “Growth will bring new employees, new processes that require training, and more data to track,” remarks Brisk.
“We are using the LMS to track all internal training offerings so we can truly see how much training is being offered to people in various roles,” she adds. “This provides a better picture and allows us to calculate the cost of training delivery. TrainingPartner gives Seattle Children’s quantitative metrics that not only validate the original ROI, but also demonstrate continuous ROI.” Brisk notes that Seattle Children’s had limited, if any, access to metrics under the previous LMS. “Implementing TrainingPartner confirmed a positive ROI, based on subjective and qualitative measures.”
Seattle Children’s will continue to maximize use of the TrainingPartner application, confirms Brisk. Some key areas of focus will be the integration of external learning and other “events” into the system. “Most of these initiatives seem to have a specialized training need, and the Learning and Organizational Effectiveness Department will work with teams to leverage the Learning Center,” Brisk says. “Together with our partners, we will continue to build learning programs for the many roles across the organization.”
Overall, the new system has deftly managed the exceptional demands of a large institution with high volumes of employees who have ongoing training needs. “TrainingPartner’s flexible configuration has been a key factor in our ability to respond to the needs of our organization in a timely and comprehensive manner,” asserts Brisk. “The system’s intuitive interface has led to a quick and extensive adoption throughout the organization.”
Seattle Children’s is enjoying the fruit of this collaborative effort today. “Selecting a new LMS application was a long process, and it was complicated by many changes at Seattle Children’s that were outside the control of the team charged with implementing this software,” notes Brisk. “GeoMetrix stayed the course with us, and we have what we dreamed of more than five years ago.”
K.M. Lowe is a writer, editor, and corporate communicator located in Victoria, BC. She has written more than 100 articles, profiles, and columns that have appeared in a variety of magazines, newspapers, and Websites. For more information, call 805.496.8850 or visit www.tradepressservices.com.