A few months ago, I realized I had to earn almost two years worth of continuing education hours in a matter of weeks if I wanted to maintain one of my certifications (I won’t embarrass myself by sharing how many times this has happened to me in the past!) I had two options: convince my boss to pay for a training trip, rearrange my schedule to free up a week away from home and head to the airport or quickly investigate the world of online training. With visions of sipping tropical fruit juice by the pool while I continued my education, I reluctantly signed up for an eLearning course (I live in the Midwest so it actually ended up being my home office with a sliver of grey, overcast sky visible through the window). 

How quickly a few months can change everything! With social distancing, mandated remote work and the need to rapidly onboard frontline clinical staff, eLearning has moved from a strategic goal with a strong ROI justification to a critical, immediate need.

eLearning on the Fly

Organizations have been forced to kick-start a remote learning program in a matter of days. Often the only solution has been to send out a video conference invite, then trust the instructor to toggle between the presentation and the system while hoping for the best. The result can be awkward, requiring patience to work through the inevitable connectivity and bandwidth issues, not to mention the barking pets and bored children in the background. Yet, it worked – mostly because it had to. 

Let’s fast forward a few weeks. Most organizations have worked out the kinks and fallen into a rhythm of providing training that is almost as effective as it would be in the classroom setting. Some organizations might even be noticing that classes are running faster than the traditional structure with greater attendance and no complaints of travel time and expense.

The New Normal in Learning

As we rise to the occasion and focus all our resources on supporting our employee efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, our attention needs to be focused on maintaining these emergency processes and ensuring that critical needs are met. We will meet this challenge. As I look forward to returning to “normal,” I can’t help wondering what our new normal will look like. Going to the barber, cookouts at the park, waiting in line at the DMV – these activities will never change, but should the same be said of classroom training?  

There are some topics that absolutely require hands-on classroom instruction. However, many more may be just as effective delivered remotely or as self-guided, eLearning modules. For Epic training, this typically means a blended approach consisting of eLearning modules for shared functionality and general workflows, combined with instructor-led training and personalization labs. BC-19 (Before COVID-19), we would often talk about the significant advantages to transitioning to a blended training approach involving Instructor led training, eLearning and skills labs. This blended approach has been tested and proven to result in increased clinician engagement with a significant return on investment. 

eLearning Results in Action

For example, one organization focused initially on converting a portion of their Epic Nursing training to eLearning. Additional resources were brought in to help with curriculum conversion and eLearning development resulting in a 60 percent reduction of RN training hours and an annual saving of over a million dollars. Another client created a virtual university to deliver the majority of their Epic training remotely. These programs support knowledge transfer while reducing travel costs and time away from work, resulting in significant savings. Looking outside healthcare, there’s a wide body of knowledge supporting the effectiveness and efficiency of eLearning for adult learners.

When it comes time to determine your new normal for training, consider building upon your crisis response program and exploring the benefits of eLearning and remote instruction. 

Alidade Group is here to help. Our experienced, Epic-certified training consultants and eLearning developers can partner with you to analyze your current training methodology, identify courses suitable for conversion, convert curricula and develop eLearning modules to support eLearning and remote training in your Epic course offerings. To learn more, contact our team at https://alidadegroup.com/contact-us/.

About the Author:
Jason Kulaga Alidade Group Author PhotoJason Kulaga, Practice Director – Healthcare Solutions, joined Alidade Group to focus on leading and growing the consulting and advisory services practice. Jason is a PMP certified registered nurse with 25 years of experience in healthcare, including 4 years working at Epic in clinical implementation and 15 years overall experience in EHR implementation, project management, delivery oversight and consulting leadership. Jason is primarily focused on mentoring and advising internal consultants and Alidade clients on topics including implementation planning, project management, community connect, interoperability, workflow and system optimization, change management, project governance and physician adoption.