Oklahoma Heart Hospital Provides Excellence in Quality and Service with Relias

Like all healthcare organizations, Oklahoma Heart Hospital has faced difficult challenges in recent years. But thanks to its strong efforts to create a culture of quality and safety, it has succeeded in not only continuously providing care during the pandemic but also pushing improvements forward.

With two campuses — a total of 143 beds on the northwest and southeast sides of Oklahoma City — the hospital has a straightforward mission: to provide excellence in quality and service. In particular, the organization carries a deep commitment to providing the highest quality of nursing care, with an average experience level among nurses of over nine years.

Kristine Kimmel, RN, BSN, CCRN, and Emily Milburn, RN, PCCN, clinical education coordinators for both Oklahoma Heart Hospital campuses, are responsible for onboarding new staff. Kimmel oversees education for the critical and intermediate care units and the ER, and Milburn holds similar responsibilities for patient-centered care and the day patient areas. Together, they oversee the hospital’s orientation process and education programs while holding additional hospital responsibilities.

Creating a Culture of Excellence Beginning with Flexible Onboarding

During Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s orientation process, Kimmel and Milburn introduce the organization’s culture to new hires and grad nurses, students, clinician specialists, and staff. They then incorporate it into new projects and processes.

“This is something that we pride ourselves in as an organization,” Kimmel said. “We have definitely worked hard at this the last couple years with the high levels of burnout in healthcare that we’re seeing.” Milburn added, “It always renews our spirit to work with the next generation of nurses. It is very much a positive part of what we do.”

Oklahoma Heart Hospital has experienced improved education with Relias, and the flexibility of the Relias Platform became a critical lifeline during the pandemic.

One of the Relias capabilities the hospital used to its advantage during COVID-19 shutdowns was the ability to customize the delivery of quarterly leadership meetings. Prior to the pandemic, about 90% of staff attended in person, and 10% would watch a recording later.

Amid the pandemic’s tight restrictions, the organization quickly changed to video for everyone and used Relias to deploy and assign the videos. The model also worked well for recording other live presentations and trainings and tracking who successfully accessed and watched them.

Ensuring Quality Through Continuous
Feedback and Responsive Training

Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s high nurse retention rate correlates to the culture that the organization strives to maintain through education and feedback at every level.

For example, the CEO communicates directly with all staff at orientation, either in person or by video, and holds a 90-day follow-up meeting to check in and allow new hires to provide feedback about how to improve. In these meetings, staff can provide suggestions and insights, and the CEO reiterates important aspects of the organization’s culture.

When virtual communications were the norm during COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital leveraged the Relias Platform to deploy staff questionnaires to keep the feedback loop alive. To encourage participation, staff received small incentives for responding. The CEO also used a virtual suggestion box available through the Relias Platform to solicit staff feedback.

The interactive aspect also characterized how the hospital used Relias’ educational content. Kimmel and Milburn estimated that 60–70% of the educational content that hospital staff engaged with was online, which made it extremely flexible. The coordinators could locate and assign modules instantly on an as-needed basis — even when a team member emailed a question or a new hire needed specific information after initial training, for example.

Achieving High Training Completion Rates and Skilled Teams with Training Plans

Although leveraging the interactive capabilities of the Relias Platform helped Oklahoma Heart Hospital maintain consistent, high-quality communication during the pandemic, the Platform’s core features helped it establish a baseline of quality before COVID’s onset that continues today. For example, Relias’ training plans help ensure that all staff members complete the ongoing learning they need.

The hospital’s approximately 2,700 learners on the platform have achieved an average of 23 completions per user. These completions span annual regulatory, IT security and safety, clinical express, infection control, and other critical topics.

Training plans are not just a method of organizing learning into manageable schedules and providing convenient and easy access but are also key to the organization’s quality and safety.

Kimmel and Milburn said the training plans provide a solid foundation for staff to expand their knowledge as needed in a timely manner. They can ensure that staff complete annual training and can customize training for specific groups to meet patient care needs.

Best of all, once the training plans have been set up, Relias automations handle the rest. “Once we figured out that we can make this work for us, we no longer have to manually go in and remember to assign this or that. If a new person comes in, they are automatically put in a plan. It really takes a lot off of us and lets us do our other work in the hospital,” said Kimmel. “Having the automated features of Relias is really, really helpful for us. It provides consistency and standardization.”

Because a team member’s first year can be intense, spacing out the learning is critical. When information is prioritized and provided over time, the hospital sees better long-term impact. The information becomes more meaningful, and the benefits to the organization increase as knowledge retention and reinforcement occur over time.

Kimmel and Milburn said they love the training plans and find them very useful in all areas, including clinical topics as well as human resources and business topics.

Empowering Staff to Advance Their Learning with an Extensive Training Library

Oklahoma Heart Hospital also enabled its staff to find and take courses on their own, including both online content modules and in-person offerings at the hospital campuses. Instead of contacting Kimmel and Milburn, staff can log into the Relias platform and find available sessions and modules.

Kimmel recalled how the organization worked over two years to ingrain the idea of education as an expectation, and now learning has become part of every staff member’s responsibility.

“They just log onto Relias. And even if we don’t train them, they can figure it out. It’s just easy. I love that.” – Emily Milburn, RN, PCCN, Oklahoma Heart Hospital Clinical Education Coordinator.

Staff members also know that they can browse the training library at any time to pursue continuing education credits and professional development. While they might look up training on a topic that came up during the care of a patient, they might also find topics proactively that they can then share with other team members — or find new content as it becomes part of Relias’ continually expanding offerings.

Even though they are now smoothly running on Relias, the journey to get there included intermediate steps with other products and processes. Administrators previously used other solutions that had limited capabilities.

“When we moved over to Relias, the abilities were just so much more vast, and we started to realize what Relias could do for us. About 95% of everything we have is on there, including orientation packets, articles, and study materials because we can add Word docs, PDFs, and videos. And we’ve got the reporting feature to tell us who’s done it, who hasn’t done it, and the reminders are built in there too. It was a big shift when we got over to Relias” — Kristine Kimmel, RN, BSN, CCRN, Clinical Education Coordinator, Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

They also noted that other solutions didn’t have training plans, requiring them to manually assign all the training every time, with no automation. They also did not have the ability to upload videos. “Those two things have been a game changer,” said Kimmel. The ease of use for administrators, the ability to integrate with other systems, and Relias’ strong customer support also helped significantly.

Kimmel and Milburn love the functionality available within Relias, some of which they want to develop further to find new options to improve their workflows. They don’t hesitate to work with their Relias customer support manager but often find what they need on their own. “It’s not a difficult system to use, and everything you need to train yourself is there.”

Transitioning to a Training Environment with Real-Time Access at All Locations

Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s successful transition to a nearly all-digital environment has helped it manage not only two hospital campuses but also communicate with more than 60 outpatient locations across the state in real time. Because everyone has access, the hospital can be efficient and spend more time with patients.

Another significant benefit is that patients don’t have to spend time filling out the same paperwork multiple times at different locations. Patient charts are seamless, regardless of whether the patient goes to a rural clinic or comes to Oklahoma City for a procedure.

“We can just log in, and everything Is right there. Our efficiency would not be what it is without it, and we wouldn’t have as much patient satisfaction for sure,” said Kimmel. “The nurses and technicians who are working outside of the hospital can just log in and do the same training that somebody’s doing here in the hospital. From an education aspect, we can reach all of those employees.”

Upholding a High Level of Quality Through Accountability and Transparency with Relias

The work to improve and modernize its operations has garnered Oklahoma Heart Hospital an impressive range of awards for patient satisfaction and quality and safety, several of which it has won for multiple years. These recognitions reflect the organization’s success in achieving and upholding high standards.

Kimmel recalls a time early in her nursing career when she shared stories with friends from nursing school who worked at other organizations. She observed that other organizations sometimes did not welcome feedback from their staff, and criticism was often met with indifference. From that, she learned the importance of organizational culture, and how it relates to overall quality.

Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s goal of zero harm for patients is ambitious and requires total commitment. “We empower the nursing staff to speak up if something doesn’t look or sound right. I think that serves our patient satisfaction because they have trust in us as an organization,” said Kimmel.

Frequent communication across organizational levels is key to maintaining quality. “Communication is constant,” said Kimmel. “It’s crucial for holding to a high standard. Our CNO might say, ‘When you’re rounding, please talk about this and put something out on Relias about it.’ Staff members know specifically where we made a mistake, own it, and can correct the situation to provide satisfaction for the patient.”

Looking Ahead with Relias Content and Feature Updates

Oklahoma Heart Hospital has achieved success with the Relias Platform but still has plans to explore even more, including additional content libraries and the virtual classroom, which could allow busy providers more flexibility. Especially after the pandemic, many community members expect recorded or online education options, but others prefer in-person opportunities. Kimmel noted, “We’re trying to balance these needs by having some live sessions and offering some on Relias.”

Kimmel and Milburn prize the ease of use, accessibility, and multidimensional aspects of Relias and are positive about the impact Relias has had in enabling Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s success and the possibilities for the future. “The more I learn about what Relias has, the more I’m looking to incorporate,” said Kimmel.

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