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2014 BEST Award Winner #22: Seattle Children's Hospital


Fri Jun 26 2015

2014 BEST Award Winner #22: Seattle Children's Hospital

The learning functions at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped this large nonprofit make progress on two urgent issues: the safety of patients, their families, and staff; and the time patients wait for care.

Healthcare providers face many daunting issues today. The learning functions at Seattle Children's Hospital helped this large nonprofit make progress on two of the most urgent: the safety of patients, their families, and staff; and the time patients wait for care.


To address the first issue, they provided web-based training in Clinical Standard Pathways, an approach to safe treatment for the most common diagnoses, to staff at 38 sites. The learning department worked with physicians and subject matter experts to create the training, and the learning management system tracked completions.

The department also began training employees in behaviors that would eliminate "preventable harm" from patient care practices by the end of 2016. And it mounted a massive training initiative to support a safe move to a new building by 1,300 employees who completed more than 10,000 hours of training in new roles, new equipment, new processes, and the layout of the new building. The training gave special emphasis to the safe care of the hospital's most critically ill patients.

It is rare in healthcare for the different functions that make up the healthcare team—physicians, technicians, nurses, and administrative staff—to train together. Yet their work at the bedside can involve critical handoffs of responsibilities and the exchange of important technical information. To achieve safety goals related to the move, the learning function trained everyone together at the same time using simulations.

In a life-size model of the new hospital floor, they set up scenarios of real situations such as transferring a patient from a helicopter to the emergency department or responding to a "code blue"—a call for resuscitation after cardiac arrest. Teams practiced finding equipment and using tools in real time. They tested and refined their processes; then they practiced them until they were rote, with a constant eye on safety.

To address the second urgent issue facing healthcare providers—the time patients wait for care—the learning function set two goals: Increase the amount of time that nurses in the cancer care unit were able to spend at bedsides; and reduce the time that patients waited to be seen in the emergency department.


While supporting many improvements in patient care, the learning function also improved its own processes to be more efficient. When a request for training occurs, the learning function partners with senior leadership to determine if training is the right approach to the requestor's goal. "In the spirit of using lean processes, we often persuade our clients not to train, and instead guide them to develop clearer expectations, check their work for errors, and eliminate process steps that add no value. We support the notion that training is an investment that should be used sparingly and intentionally," says Mary Alida Brisk, director of learning and organizational effectiveness.

The data they gathered showed they had reduced operational time by 20 percent in one year and told them how many consulting engagements and web-based training modules they could handle given their staffing levels.

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