Blackboard is supporting Primary Health Care, one of Australia’s largest health care providers, to deliver ongoing education to its cohort of general practitioners and specialists.
By offering unlimited access to courses and learning materials, Blackboard is helping Primary’s health care professionals to upskill, share ideas, and support the next generation of health professionals.
Primary’s online platform provides a range of courses for health care professionals, from family physicians to radiologists and dentists, covering a variety of topics including diabetes, skin conditions and bowel cancer. The platform and educational materials keep professionals up-to-date and help establish a national community for clinical support, with the end result focused on delivering high quality patient care.
Today, the results speak for themselves. Mark Priddle, national manager of the Institute, spoke with Blackboard about Primary Health Care and how Blackboard Open LMS is helping the company achieve positive results.
Blackboard: What is Primary Health Care Institute’s vision?
Mark Priddle: Primary Health Care is one of the largest providers of health care services in Australia. We have an expansive network of multi‑disciplinary medical centres, online pharmacies, pathology laboratories and diagnostic imaging centres.
We provide over 8 million consultations across our 71 medical centers each year. The Primary Health Care Institute is the educational arm of Primary and ensures doctors and other health professionals get the best training possible, so they can continue offering patients outstanding care.
The Primary Health Care Institute, the company’s key training institute, migrated to Blackboard Open LMS over a year ago to achieve a more sophisticated system with a wider scope.
Blackboard: What role does Blackboard Open LMS play in this vision?
MP: By using Blackboard Open LMS we now have a platform that is much more sophisticated, innovative and functional. What we were looking for from Blackboard was scalability, more than anything else. We wanted to expand and reach a broader audience of professionals. All health care professionals at Primary have free access the system and all that it offers.
Blackboard: What do the courses consist of?
MP: Right now, we have approximately 45 courses on the system. The most popular are related to chronic disease management and clinical quizzes. We create modules based on the needs of our stakeholders. By working in partnership with our network of doctors, we decide what subjects and content is needed. Courses on the LMS are designed to keep our professionals up-to-date and expose them to new discoveries and ways of providing even better care.
Each module can be completed in accordance with individual time constraints. One of the key things we were looking for from Blackboard Open LMS was the ability for doctors to measure how much they had learned through tests, advisory services and other self-evaluation tools.
Blackboard: What are the benefits of using an online platform?
MP: It allows us to reach our national network of professionals with material that is accessible anytime, anywhere. Our professionals are excited about the online community created with their peers.
One of the most important things about this project is seeing how young doctors who are still training to gain their fellowship (one of the prerequisites for obtaining a Family Medicine certification) are taking advantage of the modules. A key aim of the institute, and across Primary, is to provide a supportive environment for young doctors to gain their fellowship and continue developing their skills.
Blackboard: What are the biggest challenges?
MP: Getting people to understand how sophisticated the system is, what they can do with it, and the numerous ways in which they can interact in order to learn.
Blackboard: What has this transformation process been like?
MP: It has been really positive. Part of my work consists of showing professionals how the system works, what it consists of, and sharing the experiences of other clinicians to help promote the change. Since implementation, we have received widespread support from the business. Once we demonstrated how the platform could be used, people were really keen to participate.
Blackboard: You have experience with online learning platforms at universities. In what way do these function differently in the business world?
MP: As health care professionals have very little time, it is important to have a good learning system that allows them to go at their own pace. Blackboard has helped us bring people together from over 70 sites across Australia. This has allowed education ideas to be shared and people to form new relationships.
Blackboard: Finally, what would you say to other companies about your experience with online learning platforms?
MP: My advice would be to look at online learning platforms as an investment. There are countless benefits. In our case, our clinicians are happier, and they really enjoy using the platform to share ideas and learn from each other. The online environment has been particularly useful in helping us support younger doctors and students. This has given us a real point of difference in the market. So, I’d say to other companies, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid. Think how a digital platform can benefit your business in the long term.”
* Mark Priddle, National Manager of PHC.
* AFP Wendell Teodoro.