Faced With New Government Regulations, Trilogy Health Services Developed its Own Learning Management System
If there is any industry in America where employees absolutely, positively must know what they are doing — where proper training and learning takes a back seat to practically no other business concerns — it is the health-care industry. And the initial provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act will further complicate matters when they go into effect on Oct. 1.
It’s no wonder, then, that Trilogy Health Services rolled out a new e-learning program — centered on its Emerge learning management system — last month.
“We have approximately 7,500 employees located across the six Midwest states,” says David Hare, Director of Training and Leadership Development from Trilogy’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky. “We also have a subsidiary business that provides rehabilitation services at campuses across the country, including the East Coast and south out to New Mexico. So e-learning solutions are very timely for us.”
Trilogy has grown 50 percent over the past four years. Until now, the company has maintained a distributed learning path with senior leaders being an arm of the development process. But when Hare was hired 15 months ago to take e-learning to new heights, some things began to change.
“The learning process was and is driven by leadership,” says Hare. “A lot of the training had been done by senior leaders who had truly mastered the content. They are still delivering that content today, but now we’re looking to bring learning into a strategic mindset in order to grow the organization. Previously, it had been more tactical and hands-on at the moment of occurrence.”
“Emerge is what we’ve named our learning management system,” says Hare. “It helps us communicate, learn and grow. It will be a change, though, because 100 percent of our learning had been focused more on instructor-led training (ILT).”
Communication was the key factor that led Trilogy to launch a learning management system (LMS).
“That’s a critical component for us. Communication is a matter of connecting, so Emerge became a means of connecting with our team members throughout the organization, rather than just informing them.
“At Trilogy, growth is not only growth of the company but,more importantly, the growth of each individual within the organization. So we’re utilizing portions of the Emerge learning portal to provide organizational communication, access to e-learning, and access to the more broader LMS functions like tracking learning history.”
When Hare sought partners to develop Emerge, Learn.com and Care2Learn (which focuses its business strictly on health-care professionals) were the winners.
“We went through a process of selection where we examined at least 10 to 12 providers,”Hare reveals. “Our philosophy is that we do not have vendors, we have business partners.When we look to bring someone in—because we take the care of our residents so personally—we want to be sure our partners can provide team members the resources and tools that they need.”
“Many other great companies showcased solutions with wonderful features, it just seemed that Learn.com was the right fit for us. It was more about the right fit than one product being better than another.”
Emerge was built from the ground up, with content coming from Care2Learn.
“As we’ve looked to address some of the immediate needs of our organization and then we look at current needs within the health-care industry — more specifically, long-term care — Care2Learn has provided the content that will really help
Deployment will be slow and steady over the next 18 months. Hare describes it as a “crawl-walk-run” philosophy. During the crawl phase, Hare is providing e-learning tools to employees, and part of the walk run phase involves exploring more team oriented solutions through Emerge. The walk-run phase also will include implementation of a performance support toolset that allows the company to provide employees with knowledge management at the moment of need.
FACING THE TESTS
Difficulties have already been encountered.
“Anytime you employ a new technology solution, hurdles can be driven by technology or human behavior,” Hare says. “A lot of them have been answered quickly by having the right business partners. It wasn’t like they handed us a manual and the software and were done with us. They’ve seen the different phases and stages from when the LMS was implemented as an in-house stand-alone solution to the SaaS-type platform.
“Care2Learn has provided us with a liaison who is willing to work with us on the right content and to help us judge whether it’s working well. I have somebody to call who’s very familiar with our content, our business and our needs. She responds quickly.”
For instance, the initial pains of complying with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act begin soon. It will force changes to anyone who works in the long-term care industry or anyone involved with Medicare-related products. “The law flips on Oct. 1 in terms of how we interact in our billing practices,”Hare observes.“We have a hard-date flip, so we need performance support in order for our employees to have the necessary knowledge to comply.” Trilogy will use a blended-learning model to implement compliance-related learning.
“We’ll leverage e-learning as a tool to distribute pre-work before workshops, and
some will be follow-up after workshops to ensure that our employees are very sharp in terms of what they’ll need to do at the moment that law flips.
“That law will have a huge dollar impact. Care2Learn will provide some e-learning courses to quickly distribute. It’s given us another solution to help provide that content.”
THE COMPANY CULTURE
Trilogy sees education and training as being a foundational part of its ability to deliver what’s necessary to its residents (customers). “Having a culture that recognizes the importance of recognizing and having a senior leadership team that
places a high priority on the importance of training, education and communication, you know you have the necessary support that will embrace things that will drive results,” says Hare. “We look to leverage learning and to grow the associates,
whether it’s formal or informal learning components. One central goal is to provide compassionate service to the residents on a daily basis. Education has a key role in doing that.” When Hare and his team announced the arrival of Emerge at a company-wide meeting, employees gave it a standing ovation.
“They have said that we’re exactly on the right path. Here, education is not seen as something that has to be done — it’s something that people have a hunger for. It all traces back to the core concept that the right employees make a difference, and that’s embodied in our philosophy of what makes the ‘right’ team member:”
R – Recognize compassionate service
I – Integrity is non-negotiable
G – Growth focused
H – Humility is a core value of our leaders and organization, and it’s expected
T – Teamwork
“That we’re going to help one another grow is a part of everyone’s DNA,”Hare observes.
Of course, in any business, return on investment (ROI) is a factor. So Hare and his team are working with Learn.com to provide an ROI “dashboard” that will demonstrate the value of the new learning platform.
“When something’s a core value, we do it because we know it’s the right thing to do,” Hare says. “But we do it prudently. We‘re good stewards of the toolsets that we have. Very soon, we’ll begin to demonstrate those ROI statistics and how the tool of Emerge is actually driving the business.”
WORK TO DO
Because the Emerge roll-out is still in the “crawl” phase, there is plenty of work left to do. For instance, there is no social learning component in the initial rollout, but there will be one in iterative stages.
“If we threw all the capabilities that we have in our box out at once, that would be too much,” says Hare. “We’ll have to walk through some of those.”
The plan is to use Twitter as a means to communicate changes that are happening within Emerge. That means having all at a high-level meetingsenior leaders sign up for a Twitter account later this fall.
“That way, as we’re making changes or bringing new things to Emerge,we can blast
communications out quickly,” Hare predicts.
THE TEAM APPROACH
Implementation of Emerge has been a team exercise, and Hare is its spokesperson.
“Our CEO, Randy Bufford, is willing to step up and talk about us deploying a learning strategy at each of our senior leadership meetings,” he says. “Education is always part of that discussion. He leads by example.
“Our LMS administrator is Colby Johnson, who has worked very hard to insure that another core value is to pay attention to detail. He’s really combed through the detail of pulling the project together.
“And John Eckman, head of our human resources department, has given us ongoing support in building the strategy.”
“There are no egos or politics here, and we’ve been traveling a tremendous road. Every team across the organization has been engaged in this.”
“The wonderful thing about this organization is that it truly places the highest value in providing compassionate service. The standards we set for our company are extremely high. Everyone from the leadership team is looking to leverage this tool of learning to grow personally and to grow as a company.”