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For Leading Healthcare Providers, Training is the Next Big Challenge

As healthcare providers brace for increased patient loads and tighter budgets, they will be increasingly dependent on highly trained and dedicated workers. One of the world’s premier learning services companies explains why it’s imperative that providers make training a focal point of healthcare’s dawning era.

Every healthcare provider in the U.S. claims its dedication to the pursuit of flawless patient care. Yet not a single one achieves that goal all the time. So is it an unreasonable expectation? Perhaps. But this much is certain: those that come the closest will benefit more than ever under the new rules of performance-based reimbursement.

And as hospitals head into the turbulent waters stirred by healthcare reform, a host of care-related challenges appears on the horizon. They include more strident consumerism, more prevalent quality rankings of providers and, of course, some 40 million new patients to be absorbed by the system.

As this dynamic provider marketplace evolves, executives are continually making adjustments, both reactively and proactively. Witness the advance of electronic medical records, evidence-based medicine and related best practices currently sweeping the profession. New strategies to cope with challenges will involve more of the dynamic “balancing act” regarding cost, access and quality of care.

The Importance of Training and Development

And while it might not be uppermost in the minds of top provider executives, a valuable tool to facilitate change within any organization is the training and development of its personnel. Whether the goal is to directly improve healthcare outcomes, maintain performance and skills, instill leadership capabilities, heighten morale, enact succession planning or increase retention, one well traveled route to success is workforce training.

Arguably, nowhere is optimized training more important than among healthcare providers, where the mission of providing consistent quality care is paramount. Skills related issues are moving to the forefront of today’s healthcare transformation discussion, propelled in part by concerns about reimbursement and pay for performance.

Yet healthcare providers face formidable challenges when it comes to implementing effective, system-wide training programs. Among them:

To meet staffing and financial challenges, hospitals are clearly striving to optimize resources. That typically means diving deeper into the talent pool by bringing in two-year certificate nurses instead of four-year bachelor nurses, increasing reliance on medical-surgical techs for specialized patient care, and hiring more part-time help. All have consequences for the training department, including the need for expanded budgets for continuing education.

That trend helps explain why speed-to-proficiency has become such an urgent topic. The trend has other impacts too. As training organizations ramp up to fill these needs, they are discovering that the time-honored classroom training model is not suited to the task. The need for efficiency is driving them to implement distance learning technologies, a move many providers have been resisting.

Meanwhile, the conversation in executive boardrooms is increasingly focused on bolstering training resources – not around skills-based training in which they already excel, but in their ability to operate as a cross-functional discipline for the sake of improved care and patient safety.

The Raytheon Solution
Raytheon Professional Services, LLC (RPS) is a global provider of training solutions and a worldwide leader in transforming learning environments within highly complex organizations. We are the Dallas-based subsidiary of Raytheon Company, the defense and aerospace contractor that has helped provide training for the U.S. military for more than 70 years.

RPS not only provides training for large multi-disciplinary environments including military branches within the U.S. and Great Britain, but we specialize in training individuals for “life-or-death” situations – the identical pressures that exist within every acute care hospital and emergency facility. In short, we provide specialized training solutions for organizations that must get it right the first time, every time.

“At Raytheon, our heritage is in dealing with mission critical systems,” explains David J. Letts, General Manager of RPS. He says that single priority is demonstrated daily by RPS in its service to clients including the FAA, for whom it provides skills training to air traffic controllers, and NASA, where it also provides critical operations training.

In order for training to succeed within such large and complicated organizations, it must be delivered as part of a comprehensive system containing numerous distinct processes. RPS operates as a true systems integrator to help clients travel from end to end of that unique value stream. “We treat training as a system, optimize it as a system, and transform it as a system,” says Letts.

This explains why RPS is viewed by its clients as a “high reliability organization,” Letts says. “Our entire culture is built around that mandate.” It is an important distinction because it ensures successful training even in areas where RPS might lack subject matter expertise.

How Raytheon Can Help
Letts says RPS’s proven system of learning architecture leverages within each partnership the subject matter expertise of the client. Says Letts: “We build elegant learning systems around their expertise so that we can design and develop the curriculum, as well as deliver, administer and track it better than anybody else.”

Raytheon’s customized solutions emphasize the three principal challenges mentioned above – standardization, speed of delivery and traceability.

When a training program is standardized and centralized, content only needs to be developed once. The result is not only elimination of costly redundancies, but also consistency of message, a principal goal. But centralization of training does not mean “one size fits all.” It is possible to enjoy economies of scale while building flexibility into the system, and deploying solutions that are locally relevant.

“Centralization means a single learning management system, and single sources for content and administration,” Letts insists. “But when an instructor is delivering training at a local hospital, she is addressing the problems and situations at that facility.” And by getting all personnel throughout an enterprise “on the same page,” standardization enables large organizations to achieve another priority – teamwork. In a healthcare setting, few goals rank higher than that.

Speed of delivery is another hallmark of Raytheon’s training solution. Indeed, it is a fixation that has been honed by decades of service to military units battling daily adversity. Raytheon’s management expertise, combined with its vast technological know-how, makes it an industry leader in delivering the right training at the right time to the right people.

Yet another critical element of Raytheon’s training solution involves measurement. Its many ingredients include a robust learning management system that enables clients to track, manage and validate compliance with training requirements in complete confidence. Should compliance levels fall below the goal of 100 percent, for example, RPS will exert all resources needed to achieve the required compliance levels. This system of traceability enables clients to quickly identify the root cause of any perceived deficiency, including whether an individual or a systemic issue needs to be addressed.

Achieving such visibility enables managers to precisely determine the impact of training within discrete populations at all levels of an organization, explains Letts. Equally important is the ability to track another important metric – precisely how much its training program costs. How? The same systems installed to ensure effective training throughout an organization enable managers to target inefficiencies and cost saving opportunities. “As we drive performances and behaviors through an organization, an important side benefit is the realization of what it’s costing the client,” Letts explains.

Lastly, Raytheon’s vast experience in the commercial sector underscores the importance of training people in situations where customer satisfaction is crucial. Regardless of whether the individuals being trained are auto service technicians, financial advisors or acute care professionals, one training priority remains constant: to create an awareness that their job is to deliver a positive experience for the customer or patient for the next time they need those services.

Says Letts: “This is why RPS is uniquely suited to help healthcare providers achieve the proficiency in training they both need and deserve.”