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Success Story

ColumbiaCare Services Increases Retention by Streamlining Its Learning Management Platform

With locations in Oregon and Washington, ColumbiaCare Services Inc. works to improve the behavioral health of its clients by helping them realize the highest degree of self-sufficiency. With a focus on person-first care, clients are provided with housing and other supports they need throughout their recovery journey. These supports include:

  • Residential treatment and supportive housing
  • Crisis services and suicide prevention
  • Outpatient services and community-based care
  • Supported education and employment services

Offering such a wide variety of services across two different states, however, has brought challenges to ColumbiaCare’s leadership. They used a learning management system (LMS) to train staff but realized it did not provide the necessary human services-centered training content.

This inability to provide adequate training was causing new issues or exacerbating others, such as high turnover rates.

Realizing a change was needed, ColumbiaCare turned to Relias.

The Right Tools for the Job

When Krystle Owyen, Learning and Organizational Development Director for ColumbiaCare, joined its team in 2013, the company was using a learning system that consisted of two software platforms patched together. This patchwork approach presented several problems, especially around training and reporting.

Owyen quickly realized the inefficiency of this approach. A veteran of the learning and development field, she switched ColumbiaCare’s learning efforts to a single platform that she was familiar with from a different industry.

While there were advantages to this platform, she told Relias that some lingering issues remained. This system “didn’t have the content we were looking for, and it was really basic,” she said. On top of that, Owyen and her staff still had to export all their training and compliance data to another software system in order to consolidate it for reporting.

Needing a single platform that catered to the training and reporting needs of health and human services professionals, Owyen found Relias.

“When we moved to Relias, what was really great for us was having the behavioral health content accessible and more of the regulatory pieces that we could use,” Owyen said.

“When we moved to Relias, what was really great for us was having the behavioral health content accessible.”
— Krystle Owyen, Learning and Organizational Development Director for ColumbiaCare

Relias’ ever-growing library of human services-specific content and effective reporting functionality has helped Owyen and her team keep pace with demand. ColumbiaCare has now partnered with Relias for over four years.

“As we’ve grown, we have been using more of Relias’ content,” Owyen said.

Partnering With Relias

While ColumbiaCare first came to Relias to solve training and reporting issues, they’ve stayed because of the care and attention shown by Relias staff.

Realizing that the complexity of the previous LMS is what brought ColumbiaCare to Relias in the first place, its Customer Success Manager worked tirelessly with the ColumbiaCare Team to find a solution.

“She met with us every two weeks for a long time to say, ‘Are you sure?’, ‘Will that work?’, and ‘Have you considered this?’” Owyen said.

This partnership has also helped ColumbiaCare take advantage of the customizability of the Relias platform.

“The training plan customizability has been really helpful,” Owyen noted. “We have a lot of members and staff in different service settings, so they need different training, and being able to tailor that where we want to has been one of the biggest pieces that has been helpful for us.”

“We have a lot of staff in different service settings, so they need different training, and being able to tailor that … has been helpful for us.”

Through these interactions, and more, ColumbiaCare has developed a true partnership with Relias and its support team.

Increasing Retention Through a Culture of Learning

With the help of Relias, ColumbiaCare has moved beyond patching holes in its training and compliance platform and begun planning how to improve its organization through learning. Eager to create a culture of learning that gives staff members the tools they need to grow their knowledge and careers, ColumbiaCare plans on using the Relias Platform to create leadership and inclusive career development training programs.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Owyen ran a training program twice a year for all staff interested in moving into management positions. Known as the Leadership Academy, each cohort consisted of 6-12 staff members from across the organization. According to Owyen, the Leadership Academy program focused on “career development … and how we can continue to build those skills for folks who… want to keep growing.” While the pandemic put a halt to that program, she is bringing it back.

“One of our biggest goals is retention and career development opportunities for all staff,” Owyen said. She added, “I’m planning on using Relias for that.”

“One of our biggest goals is retention and career development opportunities for all staff. I’m planning on using Relias for that.”

On top of its efforts to promote learning and career growth among staff, ColumbiaCare has committed to improving its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice efforts by leaning into Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards and plan on leveraging Relias’ learning functionalities to achieve this goal. Currently, ColumbiaCare is exploring ways to improve language access to clients whose primary language is not English and will be using Relias to train staff on how to use these tools where possible.

Another area in which ColumbiaCare plans on using Relias to improve training is creating true blended learning modules. One of the topics being overhauled and moved into microlearning components is Medication Administration Training. With a combination of courses, videos, instructor-led training, and in-person observations, Relias will enable this training to happen synchronously and in a way that makes it easy for staff members to pick up where they left off or get help with processes with which they need additional support.

Through these efforts, ColumbiaCare hopes to empower its staff members to make an even larger impact on their community.


+ Used Relias to effectively train staff at 45+ locations across two states

+ Conveniently uploaded in-house content and videos of SMEs to prevent staff from missing training

+ Streamlined their compliance reporting process using the Relias Platform

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