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Oklahoma Agency Sets Out to Transform Training Program with Cutting Edge Video Technology

 With 30 locations in two states, Mays Housecall Home Health, Inc. of Antlers, Oklahoma and sister company Mays Home Health TX, LLC employ 11 full-time trainers. Several other staff have training duties included in their job descriptions as well. Covering the wide-open spaces of southeastern Oklahoma and northern Texas, however, requires more windshield time than classroom presence. CEO Erik Drennen, RN/BSN, believes he has found the solution: stand trainers in front of a video camera instead of sitting them behind a steering wheel.

Drennen spoke with HCAR this week about a contract Mays recently finalized with the Home Care Information Network (HCIN) to produce video content in-house, customized for the training needs of Mays' own staff. Known for producing standardized online video courses in cooperation with top home care clinical and business experts, HCIN characterized Wednesday's announcement as the first of many "enterprise implementations" of its technology that it expects to initiate this year.

"Using our video streaming technology and the content management and administrative software we developed, providers can now do on a local scale what we do for a national audience," declared HCIN president Tom Williams. "As agency executives come to understand the benefits of online training, it will not be long before they also see what Erik saw, that producing customized video seminars makes more sense than driving all over the countryside, repeating the same information over and over." Williams predicted several similar contracts, already in the works, will be announced soon.

Concurring with Williams, Drennen said the decision to invest in video technology made sense on a number of fronts, from solving existing problems to creating new training programs the company does not have the time or resources to initiate now. "Our extraordinary amount of driving is only one issue," Drennen explained. "Other issues we plan to tackle are not necessarily problems to be solved. Some are new things we would like to do but can't because of time and energy restraints."

"One reality is that trainers cannot be expected to maintain the same level of enthusiasm and energy when they do the same program over and over at one branch office after another. Another is that nurses frequently sign up for a course, wait for it to come to their own branch or one nearby, and then cannot attend at the last minute because of a patient's sudden need. A third issue is that an agency our size is constantly orienting new employees, teaching the same basic things over and over, such as basic HIPAA privacy principles, infection control and blood born pathogens, or how to fill out a W-4 form. Both teaching those simple things and tracking who has learned them are issues today. Soon, we'll be able to get out of that business and put our trainers on more urgent tasks."

Once in-house content is available 24/7 via the Internet, Drennen sees all of this changing. Trainers will rehearse and release only the best versions of their classroom sessions. Busy nurses will be able to take a course at their own convenience instead of at a scheduled time. If an urgent patient need interrupts a training session, the nurse can pause it and pick it up later without inconveniencing anyone else. "If 3:00 AM on a Saturday is the best time for someone to take a course," Drennen laughed, "I don't care."

Lastly, Drennen envisions making targeted vignettes available to staff. With the new equipment, he presents one expected example, Mays trainers will be able to create multiple 5-minute lessons on such things as company car policies: how to gas up, what to do in the event of a flat, rules about transporting patients and about your own family in the car when you are on call. "These things are simple, basic and brief," he added, "and they do not require an in-person trainer, nor should they take up a supervisor's time day after day."

Equipment included in the contract will enable Mays to record instructors and their PowerPoint slides or other onscreen content to disk and immediately upload the intact course to HCIN servers. From there it will be available only to Mays staff. Software bundled in the package will allow Mays administrators to track every employee and every seminar viewed. When a post-test is included, test results will be stored in the employee's file.

Drennen explained that Mays will continue to make HCIN standardized seminars available to its staff as well as the new in-house program. "We have people who could teach seminars on OASIS or coding or marketing or billing, but why should we do that when HCIN already has the industry's top experts available on those subjects," Drennen reasons. "We'll concentrate on producing Mays-specific content."

Work will begin next month to record orientation lessons for new hires, company policy explanations, even in-house rules and regulations about such things as using company cars. As each course is published, staff will be able to view it day or night, at home or in the office, at each individual's convenience instead of waiting for the next date a trainer comes to the nearest branch.

Asked about the affordability of such an investment, Drennen responded that, while it is not cheap neither is it as wasteful as doing training the way Mays does it now. "I would rather put our money into course content than travel," he began his ROI explanation. "Now, we do not have the ability to track individual training records electronically in a database like we will have. Plus, there are all these hidden costs. If a nurse misses a class, it may be months before that class is available in the same area again so that nurse goes without the training for those months. If the net result of this new system is to raise the education level of our individual clinicians, which it will be if we eliminate the scheduling and canceling problem, then our overall value is raised."

Drennen's closing observation is that many training tasks simply cannot be done now. Once Mays' trainers are freed from all that travel, he does not plan a reduction in force but an introduction of new, one-on-one tutoring, including the opportunity to give individualized feedback, OASIS refresher courses and personal coaching. "One of our home care applications, Episode Master, gives us OASIS accuracy reports on the individual clinician level," Drennen said. "We know where targeted training needs to be applied; now we will have the resources to apply it."

Mays offers home care and hospice services from its Antlers, Oklahoma location and 30 branch offices in Oklahoma and Texas.



Last updated: 3-4-2008