ATD Blog

Case in Point: E-Learning Saves Money in EHR Implementation

Thursday, February 5, 2015

This is part 2 of a series examining how to use e-learning when implementing EHR.   

In my previous post, I examined the benefits and best practices of using e-learning in healthcare setting, and primarily for electronic health record (EHR) system  implementations. Now, let’s review an example of a three-day (18 hour) training class for nurses on a new EHR system, comparing the cost of traditional classroom instruction with a blended approach. 

According to published industry averages, it takes about twice as long to create an hour of engaging e-learning as it does to create an hour of classroom instruction. For this example, we will use round figures of 150 hours for every hour of e-learning and 50 hours for every hour of classroom curriculum. If using consultants, we will use a round figure of $100 an hour. 

Curriculum Cost

Classroom: To create 18 hours of classroom instruction, it should take 900 hours. Using a round consultant rate of $100 an hour, the classroom curriculum would cost $90,000. 

Blended: Some research finds that information can be covered in less time using e-learning than classroom—as long as the content is not too extensive. In the blended approach, we will use two days of classroom instruction, and cover the remaining six hours of information in just three hours of e-learning. 

The classroom cost is reduced to $60,000 (12 hours of classroom instruction x 50 hours development time x $100 an hour). Meanwhile, three hours of e-learning should take 150 hours to create each hour at the cost of $100 an hour for a total cost of $45,000. The curriculum for the blended approach would cost: $105,000. 


So where are the savings? The savings are realized in instructor and employee time. 

Scenario Assumptions

When factoring costs savings of a blended approach, it's important to know the salaries of those participating in training, instructor or consultant fees, number of students in each class, and how many people your organization will need to train. In this scenario, these numbers are:

  • Average RN rate is $35 per hour.
  • Consultants will be used for instructors at an average rate of $100 per hour.
  • There are 10 students per instructor for every class.
  • Your facility has 600 RNs to train. 

Actual Savings 


Classroom approach:

  • Curriculum: $90,000
  • Student RN salaries: 18 hours at $35/hour = $840
  • Instructor salaries: 18 hours for every 10 students = $2,400
  • Total salaries for 600 RNs = $648,000

Blended approach:

  • Curriculum: $105,000
  • Student RN salaries: 12 hours classroom + 3 hours e-learning @ $35/Hr = $315,000
  • Consultant/instructor salaries: 12 hours x $100/hour x 60 classes = $72,000
  • Total salaries for 600 RNs= $387,000 

Bottom line: Savings realized using a blended approach is approximately $246,000. 

Obviously, this is a simplistic example and many other factors can affect total savings. This does, however, show the savings that can be realized using e-learning for part of the learning experience.                                                                                          

NOTE: It may be tempting after viewing this example to want to use e-learning for the total learning experience. I would just caution that there is a point of negative return if information is not understood, remembered, or used on the job. A training partner that understands adult learning principles and performance outcomes can be valuable in helping you find the right blend for your organization that will ensure performance outcomes for your healthcare learners.

About the Author

Linda Hainlen is the director of business development at Sedona Learning Solutions, a Kirkpatrick Certified Facilitator, and an international author. She served as director of learning solutions for IU Health in Indianapolis, IN for 18 years.

Linda has over 25 years of proven experience as a training manager--including real world experience applying the Kirkpatrick principles. “Utilizing the Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model truly transformed my results and elevated my division at IU Health to a strategic business partner in the organization. I am passionate about working with other organizations to help them elevate their results through partnering and obtaining sustainable outcomes.”

Linda is an engaging facilitator and presenter, who authentically and successfully connects with audiences by bringing concepts to life through sharing her own experiences from working in a highly regulated industry. Her practical and genuine approach inspires participants not only in thinking but in applying their newfound knowledge and skills.

Under Linda’s leadership, her division at IU Health was awarded the highly prestigious ASTD Best award in 2011. Linda has been published several times, including a white paper co-written with Jim Kirkpatrick on the topic of healthcare. Her ATD Infoline on “Designing Informal Learning” made the top 50 best sellers and was translated into 83 languages. Linda has been a speaker at several international conferences and has worked with companies from around the world to improve their effectiveness and achieve measurable outcomes. Industries served include higher education, corporate learning, nuclear, and healthcare. Sedona Learning is currently the only US Kirkpatrick Partners affiliate.

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