September/October 2007

LEARN Designed to Spread Education, Leading Practices


Catholic Health Initiatives is preparing to launch LEARN, a Web-based learning management system that will enhance knowledge transfer and learning across the organization. The knowledge and experience of the clinical and operations experts in the market-based organizations and national offices is one of Catholic Health Initiatives’ greatest strengths.

“LEARN is a resource that will help market-based organizations tap into leading practices, both inside and outside of Catholic Health Initiatives, and apply that knowledge to improve safety, reduce costs and improve quality,” said Colleen Elliott, director of knowledge transfer and learning. “LEARN gives nurses, physicians, clinical managers and others within Catholic Health Initiatives access to a system-wide library of courses. It will also become a key distribution network for other knowledge resources.”

All market-based organizations will be able to use LEARN and will have access to courses provided by Catholic Health Initiatives, as well as courses and programs added by other market-based organizations. “Imagine the savings we will create when our knowledge resources are shared among doctors, nurses and business managers across the system, rather than being duplicated at great cost,” said Michael Rowan, chief operating officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. “Through our knowledge transfer and learning initiatives, we are hardwiring a systemic capacity to help Catholic Health Initiatives become smarter. That will translate into better patient experiences and a more efficient enterprise.”

Initially, LEARN will focus on a library of more than 100 courses for training in compliance, regulatory requirements, patient safety and more. The platform for LEARN is provided by HealthStream, a leading vendor of learning management systems for health care. LEARN will replace the Axentis system that Catholic Health Initiatives currently uses for compliance training.

LEARN will also help minimize the time employees must spend away from work for education. “The LEARN system is available any time, anywhere an employee has Internet access,” said Elliott.

An employee satisfaction survey conducted by the Education Department at Good Samaritan Health Systems, Kearney, Neb., showed that employees appreciate 24-hour access to online education. Good Samaritan has used a HealthStream platform for its learning management system for several years, and piloted the platform being implemented by Catholic Health Initiatives. “Employees like the fact they can complete mandatory education at their convenience and at their own pace,” said Karen Crocker, director of education at Good Samaritan. The HealthStream platform is also a time saver for managers. They don’t have to schedule time off for their employees to attend mandatory education days.”

Several other market-based organizations participated in the LEARN pilot, which helped Elliott and her team develop supporting tools for implementation.

Like Good Samaritan, Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa, has used a HealthStream platform for several years. The Education Department recently updated to the same platform being implemented by Catholic Health Initiatives. “The efficiency gains have been huge,” said Deb Bagnall, director of education services at Mercy. “Our employees used to register for courses via an e-mail or phone call to our department. Our administrative assistants created class rosters using spreadsheets, manually entered course information into employee education records, then sent everything to human resources to download. All of that took a lot of time. Now, employees register online and their records are automatically updated at the completion of each course. This gives our administrative assistants more time to work on crucial projects and our program coordinators have more time to author courses.”

The implementation schedule for LEARN has been planned based on the implementation schedule for CHI Connect, Catholic Health Initiatives’ system for the centralization and consolidation of core business processes. “We know that LEARN implementation requires, on average, about 80 hours of work at each market-based organization,” said Elliott. “We know when each market-based organization has critical milestones for CHI Connect, and we are working to minimize any conflicts.”

Elliott expects the majority of market-based organization to implement the system in 2008. “LEARN will help us achieve our strategic and business objectives through more efficient training and rapid dissemination of leading practices,” said Elliott.