Cover training needs by adding e-learning

No travel costs involved

Previously, it took some patient access employees over an hour to travel up to 40 miles to a training site for required education at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Allentown, PA. Now, employees can take some of the training right from home or at their current facility.

“If we can do some training by e-learning training modules, that saves us time and money. It allows us to focus our education resources on auditing and quality assurance,” says Sandy Sarson, manager of the outpatient registration and admission service group at St. Luke’s University Hospital at Bethlehem.

With an education staff of only three full-time employees, the network is challenged to keep more than 500 employees who perform registration at five inpatient facilities and multiple outpatient facilities up to date, as well as educate new hires, Sarson says. “We had limited resources, and we needed to think out of the box. The thought came to us, ‘People do so much online these days,’” she says. “Many of the people we hire are students, and they are very computer literate.”

The department began to develop an e-learning module to cut down on the amount of classroom training needed for new hires and existing staff. “This allows employees to learn at their own pace, instead of having to travel to a centralized location,” she says. “If we need to do refresher training or remedial training, this keeps us from having to take the employee away from the worksite.”

E-learning reduces educators’ training time by 16 to 32 hours per month per educator, she estimates. “Current employees are able to review competencies and always have resources available to do all aspects of their position,” she says. “This results in higher registration accuracy and performance.”

ROI showed savings

Before developing an e-learning module, patient access leaders were required to research a return on investment (ROI) to show how much would be saved.

“We were able to demonstrate that education-related travel costs would be decreased by 50% and supply costs decreased by approximately $1,500 per year due to the elimination of printing and copying of materials,” says Sarson.

In addition, there are fewer added hours and overtime for managers to cover shifts during training sessions. “We don’t have all those slots filled all the time, so to pull somebody off their regular shift to attend training created a hardship for other people,” she explains. “Now, staff are able to complete the training during their downtime onsite.”

E -learning is much more convenient for employees who work different shifts because they can take the training whenever they are available, but one pitfall is the lack of someone to answer questions, says Amy Kirkland, CHAA, patient access team leader at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, SC.

“If someone is in the process of training and has a question, they don’t have an instructor available to ask,” she says. “They would need to email or call to get an answer.” (See related story, below, on the types of training best suited to e-learning.)


For more information on e-learning in patient access areas, contact:

Amy Kirkland, CHAA, Patient Access Team Leader, Palmetto Health Richland, Columbia, SC. Phone: (803) 434-6652. Email: