The HSE’s secret to successful integrated healthcare

Company profile

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) delivers a vast range of health and social services in hospitals, clinics and communities across Ireland. Like all organizations involved in healthcare today, the HSE faces the challenge of providing the best possible care, while simultaneously decreasing costs. To do so the HSE has embraced ‘integrated healthcare’—an interdisciplinary approach characterized by a high degree of collaboration and communication among different health professionals that aims to improve both patients’ outcomes and satisfaction.

But for an integrated healthcare scheme to be truly effective, knowledge gaps must be quickly identified and eliminated—and this is why the team wanted to create an online learning and development portal, that would do so much more than just deliver learning.

Business challenges

Online learning needs delivers high quality training programs for HSE’s healthcare workers. However, achieving this in an active healthcare environment is no easy matter. While classroom training can address knowledge shortfalls, scheduling classes is tricky because of workers’ demanding schedules. Moreover, when healthcare professionals go away to attend classes, they are in effect spending less time attending to busy wards, clinics, or their other duties. Online learning, which does not have the same physical constraints as classroom training, enables learners to take training at their convenience and thus became a more attractive alternative to classroom education for HSE.

System objectives

In designing their online learning system, and working closely with existing learning and development colleagues, the team expended significant effort in engaging staff across all areas of the health services spectrum; no easy undertaking given the 96,000 healthcare workers who are dispersed over a wide geographic area. At the same time, there was considerable external pressure to get the system up and running—Ireland’s population was growing and aging and not only were the number of demands on HSE staff rising, but the HSE staff also found they had to become competent in a growing number of different areas.

Nevertheless, the organization did not compromise on its standards. Pat Kenny, the HSE’s National eLearning Services Manager remarked, “The HSE’s key requirements for a technology solution were reliability and robustness. We essentially wanted a solution that we could forget about—that we wouldn’t have to worry about so that we could get on with the business of delivering learning and development to our colleagues. ”We also wanted a cost-efficient solution that could be scaled across the organization.”

After completing a full requirements analysis, the HSE concluded the ideal online learning system would need to:

  • Deliver a range of custom and off-the-shelf eLearning programs
  • Be flexible, incorporating new technologies where appropriate and providing a suite of learning & development resources
  • Enable in-house staff to design and deliver their own eLearning material for distribution through the system
  • Allow a wide range of users, including HSE employees, healthcare organizations, and voluntary sector organizations access to the system
  • Incorporate an effective assessment mechanism for quick identification of knowledge gaps
  • Provide a set of career progression tools

Most importantly, employees needed to feel comfortable using the system for continuing professional development, which meant it had to be user friendly, easy to navigate and provide 24/7 availability.

Following a competitive tendering process, the HSE chose NetDimensions LMS and worked with Aurion Learning (a NetDimensions LMS reseller) to deploy the system on time and on budget.

The results

A reference learning platform

Now recognized as the platform of choice for the roll out of training programs that must be readily available throughout the Irish healthcare sector, has over 53,783 registrants, 19,267 eLearning programs in progress, more than 18,651 eLearning programs completed and over 5,000 completed competency assessments. is now able to provide users with a comprehensive set of functions that allows them to:

  • Carry out competency assessments
  • Plan professional development for the coming year
  • Complete mandatory eLearning program on demand (i.e. learning what they want, when they want)
  • Print certificates of achievement when they successfully complete an eLearning course to evidence their having completed professional development
  • Access libraries of learning resources including documents, videos, and links
  • Participate in or contribute to subjectspecific collaborative learning hubs, forums, wikis, and blogs
  • Manage their individual learning paths
“The HSE’s key requirements for a technology solution were reliability and robustness. We essentially wanted a solution that we could forget about—that we wouldn’t have to worry about so that we could get on with the business of delivering learning and development to our colleagues.”

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