Dual Code provides online education to Canadian hospitals

By Dianne Craig

Ottawa-based Dual Code Inc., an eLearning company, has formed a partnership with HealthCareCAN, formerly known as the Canadian Healthcare Association, to build a nationwide, open collaboration network that enables hospitals and healthcare organizations to share eLearning content.

The Montfort Hospital, in Ottawa, has signed-on to share course content with other hospitals, and more facilities are expected to soon follow.

Dual Code makes use of Moodle, an open-source learning management system that’s widely used in high schools, colleges and universities. While many companies and service providers have customized the system for secondary and post-secondary schools, Dual Code is the first in Canada to tweak it for use in healthcare.

“We’ve enhanced it,” says Allan Zahara, director of Healthcare Solutions at Dual Code. “Hospitals and healthcare organizations have specific needs around educational compliance – such as infection control, patient safety, workplace hazards, etc.

“We’ve built those feature sets in Moodle to meet the needs of the Canadian healthcare sector.”

Zahara said the company started customizing Moodle around 2009, focusing on recognizing particular needs of hospitals and healthcare organizations, like “tracking mandatory due dates for employees as well as renewal dates.”

While the shift to learning management systems (LMS) for education has now been made by over 60 percent of Canadian hospitals, not all LMS systems are created alike.

According to Luc Richard, president and CEO of Dual Code, hospitals that run out-of-the-box solutions not designed for healthcare soon request customizations like:

• Show accurate, tamper-proof, current reports for compliance training by department

• Clinician continuing education credits: report on who did what, when, for how many credits

• Face-to-face and blended learning: manage, track and report on all hospital learning, not just online training, in one centralized system.

For the past eight years, Dual Code has been building hospital features like those into its Healthcare Edition, based on an Open Collaboration business model. This enables their 100+ hospital and healthcare organization clients to use it to share and benefit from the enhancements each of them makes to it.

While many hospitals don’t have the resources to create high quality multimedia, accessible, interactive, and engaging eLearning, Dual Code maintains a team of skilled instructional designers, graphic designers, multimedia experts, eLearning developers, accessibility experts, and voice actors.

“We’ve partnered with 20+ organizations, including Montfort Hospital,” says Zahara. “Our typical model is, we will build it together – they bring the subject matter experts.” Dual Code also works with associations to develop content, which is then made available to care-givers.

For example, the company has worked with Pallium Canada, a national education community-of-practice in palliative care, to design and deliver online courses to front-line healthcare providers – primarily physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers across the country.

The agreement with Montfort Hospital was conceived to enable both the hospital and Dual Code to move to the next phase of Open Collaboration – course content sharing. Many courses created by one hospital or healthcare organization and enhanced by Dual Code can be customized or used “as is” by another hospital.

Open Collaboration opens the door to allow all partners to share and also customize their course content specifically for the needs and interests of their own organizations. According to Richard, when asked to describe their overall experience with the solution, 97 percent of respondents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” and 97.5 percent said they would recommend it to others.

Asked how Dual Code clients are using their Moodle-based Healthcare Edition, Zahara said one example is hospitals collecting umbilical cord blood for the Canadian Blood Services.

“Collecting cord blood saves lives through stem cell transplants. Every hospital in Canada that collects cord blood for Canadian Blood Services uses eLearning to train and certify clinicians on how to do this properly.

“Dual Code worked with Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank to build the courses and host the Learning Management System and Learning Record Store. eLearning allowed Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank to implement a Canada-wide solution in months.”

Leadership training and Communication are other important topics. Many hospitals want to train clinical staff and improve their communication skills to take on wider managerial duties, and Dual Code has partnered with Rutherford McKay Associates, a leader in the field of communications planning, strategic writing and media relations, to create online learning modules to help. “You can scale up and run many learners through the course,” said Richard.

“They take it at their own speed, using individual learning paths, and they can do it for a low cost,” adds Zahara, noting this avoids travel and other expenses they might otherwise incur.

The eLearning flexibility, scalability, and cost reduction advantages come in part from being able to scale up to 10,000 learners or more, so cost per learner goes way down, and there are savings from not having to pay a trainer to go from one hospital to another.

Richard said the biggest benefit of an Open Collaboration-based eLearning model for healthcare may be that, “if we do something for one hospital, every hospital benefits. They’re getting something customized for the Canadian healthcare sector.”

“Healthcare organizations are being asked to do more with less,” says Zahara.

“eLearning is a powerful tool for scaling up education and knocking down costs. And open collaboration is the concept that needs to be embraced to optimize this potential.”

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