Article Date: 3/1/2008

A Peek at CooperVision's Online Learning Center

A Peek at CooperVision's Online Learning Center

Practitioners discuss the tracks they consider most helpful to them and their staffs.

Dr. Sylvan: In your experience with the CooperVision Online Learning Center, which module has been most helpful thus far?

Dr. Faith: The telephone-technique segment of the New to Eyecare course is phenomenal. It reinforces the instruction we provide employees on how to properly present progressive addition lenses, toric and bifocal contact lenses and contact lenses in general. The segment even provides information about glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Dr. Wan: Consistent, ongoing telephone training is so important, particularly when the office is busy and you're striving to communicate information effectively in the proper tone of voice.

Dr. Klein: Staff communication with patients in the office is very important. How many times have you overheard even the most competent employees say something that makes you cringe?

"Younger employees are more comfortable with learning new information online than from books or in a classroom setting. … We have to figure out better ways to manage our time to accommodate them. CooperVision is addressing that."

Sandra J. Bozich, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Top-tier Modules

Dr. Sylvan: What other tracks were valuable to you?

Dr. Wan: My staff and I love the module on instrumentation. Recently, I was training one of my technicians to assist me in fitting patients for contact lenses and taking anterior photographs. The instrument section on the slit lamp proved helpful. It has excellent graphics, diagrams and actual anterior segment images. The module also featured various lighting and illumination techniques to show the technician how to get the best photographs and corneal views.

Dr. Bozich: The anatomy and optics tracks are very helpful because opticians often have trouble explaining myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism in layman's terms to patients. Sometimes I forget to cover the basics with my staff and new employees because I'm so busy teaching them how to use the phone, discuss progressive lenses and dispense contact lenses.

Dr. Klein: The advanced contact lens track will be very important in my practice because we'll be delegating more of these tasks to staff in the future.

Advanced Training

Dr. Sylvan: Beyond training new staff members with introductory content, do you envision yourselves using advanced online training to continue educating staff about new products and technology?

Dr. Klein: Yes. And once we do that, I believe it will be important to follow up with training as a team several months after implementing new products and technology. Without follow-up training, knowledge of products and technology will fade away and soon be forgotten. Patients have a sense when the staff understands what the practice is offering. Patients pick up on inconsistencies in the message from the doctors and employees.

Dr. Wan: Training modules on specific products are important. They're like having an instant-access library with one click of a finger. If you like certain products, you can direct your staff to those particular modules so they can get a more in-depth understanding of what the products are and how to use them.

Dr. Faith: The information on new products and technology should focus more on materials, usefulness, benefits to the patient and other similar factors. You want to avoid inconsistencies between what the staff member suggests and what the doctor recommends.

Future Use

Dr. Sylvan: Will you use the CooperVision Online Learning Center in your practices long term?

Dr. Klein: Digital resources, such as this one, are going to be the cornerstone of our training and competency program.

Dr. Bozich: We're all becoming more technologically savvy, which is demonstrated in the younger people I hire. Younger employees are more comfortable with learning new information online than from books or in a classroom setting. And as doctors, we have to figure out better ways to manage our time to accommodate them. CooperVision is addressing that. I look forward to seeing CooperVision's Online Learning Center evolve so it remains relevant as we go forward.

Dr. Faith: What we enjoy about the modules is that the creators at CooperVision think like eyecare professionals. They also have the resources to develop an impressive program that we could never produce. That offers an incredible value to us.

Dr. Wan: I like the idea of using the program to share forms, office procedures, photos, graphics and staff training. We're all in the business of taking good care of our patients. And we all spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources on training and developing our staff. We can help each other by sharing our knowledge and efforts.

Using Sales Reps

Dr. Sylvan: Do you think it's useful or even appropriate if a sales representative recommends training courses to your staff that relate to CooperVision products?

Dr. Faith: Our employees know that reps provide education on their products and others in the industry. They're also aware that we use our company reps as resources for our patients' and office needs. So it's OK for reps to recommend training courses.

Dr. Wan: As I mentioned earlier, our sales reps are considered part of our team even though they're an outside resource. They've seen hundreds of offices so they know what works well and what doesn't. We rely on them for video and online training resources and slide presentations. Some of our best training sessions have involved role playing with our staff and sales reps.

Assigning Tracks

Dr. Sylvan: Will you assign tracks from the CooperVision Online Learning Center to staff members or let them choose courses themselves?

Dr. Bozich: Since I emphasize the importance of cross training, I'll have my entire staff complete all of the modules. I'll oversee the training because some employees need to master certain material while others may need basic knowledge.

Dr. Klein: To ensure consistency, I'd assign specific courses to people in each position.

Dr. Wan: Everyone needs to grow and wants freedom of choice, so I wouldn't discourage staff from choosing courses, but I'd recommend they begin with the basic anatomy module.

Training Tips

Dr. Sylvan: What recommendations would you make to other practitioners to help them with staff training?

Dr. Faith: I'd advise that they implement a program, formal or informal, and stick with it.

Dr. Wan: I'd recommend integrating the available online material into their own training program. They should make incremental improvements and raise the bar for the entire office. Use training materials that focus on phone skills, cross training, role playing and team building. Make it fun and interactive. Review the results, and then repeat it again — always raising the bar.

Dr. Klein: Strive for consistency among doctors and staff members, and hold your staff meetings as scheduled. If you aren't consistent in all aspects of practice, your system of training may fail.

Dr. Bozich: The best way to ensure good staff training is to fully understand your goals and mission statement. Train everyone with the same philosophy in mind, and do everything to fulfill that vision. It's very confusing to staff members when they hear two different messages from doctors in the same practice.

Advantages for All

Dr. Sylvan: Thank you all for your comments. Everyone has provided great insights on the importance of staff training and how to incorporate the latest technology — online training — for continuing education. The CooperVision Online Learning Center offers instruction on several topics that can benefit new and veteran employees. It can save you time and money, improve patient care and help your practices run more smoothly. Employees are likely to feel more valued because of the continuing education they receive, and they'll take pride in working for a practice that patients appreciate. ■

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2008