Cutting-Edge Mobile Education Apps Keep Staff Sharp

Your staff performs a wide range of healthcare and administrative duties. As such, you want to keep them trained and proficient in all the latest, and also most basic, tasks, right?

Your staff performs a wide range of healthcare and administrative duties. As such, you want to keep them trained and proficient in all the latest, and also most basic, tasks, right?

That should be an easy question to answer. Because research shows that administration errors account for between 26% and 32% of total medical errors — and nurses administer most medications.

Investing in employee training is critical. According to the Association for Talent Development, US companies spent $164.2 billion on employee training in 2012. Failure to actively embrace employee training can result in, among other things, skills gaps and a loss of revenue.

But now, CSE Software Inc. and SIMnext, in conjunction with the expert nurses at OSF Healthcare, have developed Health Scholars courses on a mobile platform.

“You’re investing a small amount for a large return,” says Nikki Delinski, MSN, RN, CCRN, clinical education programs specialist for OSF, and clinical solutions manager for SIMnext. “You’re providing your staff with a great opportunity to give patients great care.”

Back to the Basics

Recognizing the need for standardized education, Delinski and her colleagues went back to the basics when deciding what six courses would be developed first.

“What’s common throughout all hospitals across the nation is that they are constantly having to re-educate on their basics,” Delinski explains. “We’re talking things like hand hygiene — basic components that are constantly having to be re-audited and re-educated.”

They examined nursing orientations nationwide, as well regulatory guidelines, and found a focus on basics like anticoagulation education, and blood transfusion education. That’s where they started, developing six apps: Infection Prevention, Facility Precautions, Hospital Acquired Infections, Medication Safety, Anticoagulation, and Blood Transfusion.

But why the mobile platform?

“We realized … gone are the days of nurses wanting to sit in a seat and listen to powerpoint,” Delinski says. “They want to get active, and they want to be appreciated for the knowledge they already have.”

In other words, they didn’t want to sit through two-and-one-half hours of training on OSF’s infusion pump when many had already received training of some sort on infusion pumps.

“They would come out of that training eyes glazed, zombie looking,” Delinski recalls. “And many of them just wanted to go up to the pump and show the instructor that they could do it.”

So they developed a 15-minute, self-paced learning app. It was interactive, and included simulations. Nurses could experience the entire app, or if they simply needed a reboot on one part, such as patient controlled analgesia, they could simply refresh themselves on that section.

“And then we tested it,” Delinski says. “We had half the group do the two-and-a-half hours and half do the app, and there was absolutely no difference between the two groups who came up and tested in front of the instructor.”

Benefitting Patients and Physicians

One day, Delinski’s chief nursing officer informed her of a problem with heparin infusion errors, and it was affecting patients. The CNO’s first reaction was to have every nurse re-train on the importance of, and how to program the pump with heparin.

Delinski took a step back, and had an app developed to re-educate nurses on the proper procedure. But she also added a dashboard on the backend.

“I wanted to be able to track every single nurse’s answers,” she says. “Which nurses do I need to worry about? Is it a floor or a unit I need to re-educate, or just a single nurse?”

In six weeks, using the new app on a dozen tablets that were conveniently placed at all the nursing stations, Delinski was able to obtain data on more than 800 nurses. And what she found was the problem was isolated to about a half-dozen nurses who needed to be re-educated on doing an independent double-check.

The benefit of the mobile education app was significant. Delinski explains that in three months prior to launching the heparin app, 19 heparin adverse events were documented. In the three months after the launch, there were six.

“And it continued to decline,” she says.

But the full potential impact wasn’t realized until OSF leadership was invited to preview the apps.

“Our chief medical officer pulled me aside and asked, ‘Why is this just for nurses?’” Delinski says. “He said, “I can’t tell you how often I have to harp on hand hygiene to my new residents and experienced doctors.’”

“The app promotes mobile, on-the-go learning,” Delinski says. “When physicians are placed in a seat they are rolling their eyes and saying I don’t have time for this. So it is not just nurses who need these concepts and basics. It’s really impactful.”