“A lot of clinicians by nature have
gone into a field where there is a lot of
interpersonal dialogue rather than technology use, and we found a surprising
lack of computer literacy,” she says.
The team responded by kicking off
computer proficiency training while the
system was still being designed and built.
“We hit the portions of the
Microsoft suite that had functions similar to what we would be doing,” says
Ms. Lahoud. “For example, some things
in the electronic medical record look
and feel like Excel. It was a small chunk
we could do ahead of time.”
THE TEACHING POOL
Given the chronic shortage of healthcare clinicians, the training team didn’t
want to burden each hospital by pulling
people off the floor to teach. So it used
contract instructors whose core skill
base was teaching rather than clinical
“When we first started the process
we thought that only clinicians could
train clinicians,” says Ms. Lahoud. “But
when we bumped up against the nursing shortage, we went out on a limb and
partnered with a local professional
training organization, getting people
with no clinical background but strong
computer and teaching skills.”
The team found the instructors did
just as well—and sometimes better—
than the clinicians.
“Based on user feedback, we found
that students couldn’t tell who were
contract instructors and who were
clinicians,” says Ms. Moore.
Before they were allowed to teach, all
instructors had to complete a weeklong
credentialing course targeted to their
individual needs. For example, clinicians with little teaching experience
were given lessons in people skills and
presentation tactics. To pass, each
instructor had to teach a class to a panel
of core trainers and “super”-users.
“We would pepper them with some
pretty tough questions to rattle them,”
says Ms. Lahoud.
The team wanted users trained as
close to the “go live” date of each hospital
as possible, so each initiative turned into
almost a conveyor belt of teaching.
“At one hospital, we trained 3,600
employees in four weeks,” says Ms.
Moore. “We taught in shifts of 20 hours
a day, using probably at least 75 percent
contract instructors. We had a training
Ms. Moore and Ms. Lahoud primed
the pump at future sites by identifying
clinician trainers at the next hospital slated for training and recruiting them to
teach at the one already under way.
“Creating these ambassadors helped
the next site feel more prepared and
helped ease staffing crunches at the hospital being trained,” says Ms. Lahoud.
With an implementation that spans
several years and thousands of users,
changes to both the system and training
materials were inevitable.
So even though the team used a
workflow engine to simulate the environment for each application, testing
often revealed that certain processes
needed tweaking as real-life workers
started using the system.
To keep the process flexible and
responsive, the staff built a combination
of online and instructor-based training,
using stand-alone modules that could
be modified without affecting the bulk
of the materials. And then the team
relied on a collaborative technology in
conjunction with a hierarchy of reports
and team meetings to ensure the training, testing and build teams were all up-to-date on changes and feedback.
The team is a little more than halfway
through the implementation, and the
training process has been standardized
and folded into the general project
After the system went live, project
leaders dropped the niceties. Users
couldn’t log onto the computer unless
they’d gone through training, for example. While the paper-based system still