Article Date: 3/1/2008

Taking Advantage of Online Training

Taking Advantage of Online Training

An interactive, educational tool can quickly turn your employees into stronger contributors.

Dr. Sylvan: We've discussed the value of staff to an eyecare practice and heard how difficult it is to maintain a high level of competence through consistent, ongoing training due to time constraints and cost considerations.

As part of CooperVision's commitment to the success of eyecare practitioners, the company recently introduced the CooperVision Online Learning Center (learning.coopervision.com), a training, continuing education and information resource that's free to CooperVision account members. I know that everyone on the panel recently began using this new educational tool. I'd like to know how you and your employees use the training, how it's benefited new and veteran staff members and whether it's saved you time and money compared with other methods like onsite and offsite programs.

Benefits of Online Training

Dr. Wan: I'm really excited about the expansion of online learning. Until recently, many online training Web sites were tough to navigate; they were too basic, too product specific, and there wasn't enough staff training information. Now online training Web sites are easier to use and more interactive, incorporating sound and video animation. Information is available to train beginners and senior staff who want to advance in optometry.

Dr. Bozich: I didn't use online training before the CooperVision Online Learning Center. I had assumed that online training programs were incomplete or contrary to my own training program. However, with CooperVision's online program, I can assign homework and track employees' progress at our weekly staff meetings. I can customize the program with additional information that's specific to my practice and exclude the information I don't need.

Dr. Wan: What's nice about CooperVision's Online Learning Center is that it provides resources for team-building, best practices, role-playing and other information that meshes well with our current staff-training program. Specifically, it contains short modules that are broken down into packages, so you can direct your staff to train in different areas. The short training modules enable your staff to learn new information individually or in a group setting. In our reception area, we have a large, flat screen monitor for online staff training. The short, 15-minute courses are ideal to engage in role-playing and group discussions during staff meetings. Your front office staff can use the telephone technique module; employees in the back office and call center can use the basic anatomy courses and the technicians can use the contact lens 101 module. All of this maximizes your return on investment.

Dr. Sylvan: What has been the easiest aspect of CooperVision's Online Learning Center for your employees?

Dr. Wan: The easiest aspect is the use of the controls as they navigate through the program. And once they register, they can easily select the modules. The program is very intuitive, incorporating video and sound.

Students who complete a course through the CooperVision Online Learning Center are awarded a certificate of completion.

Dr. Faith: The CooperVision Online Learning Center presents material that's interactive and ideal for a group presentation. It's entertaining and authoritative. The benefits include increased staff knowledge and decreased costs. When the doctors in my practice reviewed the learning center, they realized it offered three benefits for all staff members. The program increases:
■ Our expenses on our profit & loss (P&L) statement but saves us money in training costs
■ Our income because properly trained and motivated staff generate more revenue
■ Our return on "mental investment," enabling the doctors to sleep much easier.

"Many of the newer and younger staff members prefer online learning from video clips. We're meeting the educational needs of a new generation of employees with this type of technology."

Larry K. Wan, O.D.

Faster Learning—Documented

Dr. Sylvan: The New to Eyecare modules on the CooperVision Online Learning Center Web site include courses on basic ocular anatomy, basic optics of contact lenses, fundamentals of instrumentation, nomenclature, patient instruction and telephone courses. How will these modules help your employees?

Dr. Bozich: They'll become more competent and knowledgeable faster than if they used other training methods. I can see incorporating the New to Eyecare track beginning with the first day of training.

Dr. Faith: Until recently, we used videotapes from the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) or manuals and notebooks. But some people just don't learn that way. Plus, we don't know if our employees actually paid attention to the tapes or read the books at home. We do know when they've used the CooperVision Online Learning Center, because they take the quizzes, and we see their grades.

Dr. Wan: Many of the newer and younger staff members prefer online learning from video clips. We're meeting the educational needs of a new generation of employees with this type of technology.

Broad-based Instruction

Dr. Sylvan: Have any of your new employees studied the New to Eyecare track?

Dr. Wan: Several of our employees — those over age 60 and others in their 20s — have used the program effectively. So it's suitable for all ages and levels of experience.

Dr. Klein: Pre-optometry students from a local university used the New to Eyecare courses as well as one of our externs, who benefited from some of the insights, despite his optometric training. The program is broad-based, so I use it to train recent hires for our receptionist's desk as well.

Dr. Bozich: The certification the program provides is a great addition. I can tie certification to bonuses and raises.

Dr. Klein: Training and certification are the hallmarks of career development in our practice. Staff members know that certificates translate into higher compensation as they continue to advance.

Dr. Wan: We use the certificates to recognize employees in staff meetings.

Offering Incentives

Dr. Sylvan: Do you offer some incentives for certification?

Dr. Faith: Historically, I haven't. The external programs available for certification haven't sufficiently increased my staff's knowledge and skills.

Dr. Wan: Currently, we don't have a formal incentives program, but we're in the process of developing one for the staff. What we've learned since using CooperVision's Online Learning Center is that those employees who make the effort to complete the courses and get the certificate are the most excited about learning more and providing a higher level of service to our patients. This has changed our view about the value of online learning. CooperVision's Online Learning Center has opened a new door for us, and it's exciting for the doctors and staff. The certification process associated with the learning center reinforces what employees learn. The quizzes the employees take at the end of each course prove that they're not just going through the motions.

"The CooperVision Online Learning Center is a resource that can save me $795, which I'd spend to pay an expert to provide 4 hours of in-office training."

Steven E. Faith, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Invaluable Tool for Employees

Dr. Faith: The CooperVision Online Learning Center is a resource that can save me $795, which I'd spend to pay an expert to provide 4 hours of in-office training.

Dr. Wan: I've been pleasantly surprised by how self-motivated staff members become once they experience how entertaining and helpful online learning can be. Employees give me positive feedback about the quality and practicality of the information, and how easy it is to use. The Online Learning Center will be a big part of our training program in 2008.

Dr. Sylvan: What are the benefits online courses offer?

Dr. Klein: Online courses are vital because they provide information about new products and technology. You can confirm the source, evaluate what's being said and avoid misinformation. ■



Optometric Management, Issue: March 2008