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Flexibility for ASCs New options for helping staff learn how to use new software can save time and money. BY MITCH STEIN

The Internet has changed the way we make travel plans, how we manage our bank accounts and how we share photos with friends and fam-

ily. So, why not leverage its flexibility and speed to facilitate the onboarding process for new software implementations? Historically, when rolling out new

software, ASCs have had only one op- tion: relying solely on on-site, instructor- led training. The goal was to provide staff with enough knowledge to enable the fa- cility to begin using its new software as rapidly as possible. Staff members were pulled from their duties and required to participate in multiple full-day training sessions, and training could easily take three or more full consecutive days. Al- though on-site training is the traditional way to introduce employees to their new technology, exclusive reliance on on-site training is not ideal from a scheduling or a cost standpoint.

On-site training is intensive for both

staff and a facility’s management team. Finding a time that works for everyone involved can be a complex, often diffi- cult, undertaking. It is also challenging for staff to maintain the level of focus required to fully comprehend and learn how to use new technology when dealing with information overload during focused multi-day training sessions. Additionally, management is faced with the difficult task of figuring out a way to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly as workers are pulled away from their regu- lar duties to participate in training. Then there are the additional costs associated with on-site training programs. Facilities often pay travel expenses for trainers to train their staff on site.

Leveraging Technology Fortunately, technological advances are providing facilities with greater flex- ibility when it comes to training op- tions. By leveraging web conferencing technology, like WebEx or GoToMeet- ing, virtual classroom training sessions can now be conducted successfully over the Internet. Two-way interaction enables employees to ask questions and get real-time answers. Additionally, trainers have the ability to take control of a facility’s system remotely to dem- onstrate step-by-step how the members of the staff can set up their system and where to go to access information. Using remote learning technology,

multi-day classes can be split into several smaller sessions delivered over a period of weeks. Therefore, rather than requiring staff to participate in two or three consec- utive full days of training, online training sessions can be scheduled in one- or two- hour increments over a series of days or weeks. Additionally, if something comes up and a staff member cannot attend the originally scheduled training, sessions are easily rescheduled without incurring additional travel expenses.

More Focused Results An ancillary benefit reported by facili- ties taking advantage of remote training sessions is that staff members are more focused on results than during traditional on-site training. According to some ad- ministrators, staff members who are not seated in a room with their peers focus more on the online lesson, feeling that they must take more of an initiative in mastering material.

Another remote training option is on-demand training. Using the Internet,

Web-based training (WBT) options pro- vide “anytime access” to a host of soft- ware training programs including pre- viously recorded sessions, interactive eLearning lessons and training guides. WBT sessions and materials are ideal for the self-learner and typically of- fer the option to take a short quiz at the conclusion of the lesson to verify knowledge retention. Because WBT lessons do not offer two-way interac- tion with a trainer for real-time ques- tions, this type of training is best used as a precursor for the other types of in- teractive training. On-demand training is also a great way for facility staff to learn more about the software they are already using as part of their continu- ing education to ensure that they are taking advantage of all the features the product offers.

Increased Productivity Technology has advanced to the point that it really doesn’t matter where learn- ers are located. Today’s remote training is state-of-the-art and helps facilities lower costs and increase productivity. Recognizing that some facilities pre- fer face-to-face training, many soft- ware vendors continue to offer on-site training options at ASC locations. Ad- ditionally, for those that prefer a more traditional classroom setting, some vendors also offer public classes held at the software vendor’s facility. These are attractive options for employees who learn best in a group setting, par- ticularly those who already have basic product knowledge. Because different people learn in

different ways, it is important for ASCs to be able to choose how their employ- ees are trained. Fortunately, technology has enabled software vendors to offer more options to their clients.

Mitch Stein is the director of SourceMedical’s Learning Center of Excellence. Contact him at

The advice and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion. ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2013 25

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