A HSJ (Health Service Journal) supplement published recently looking at the Electronic Staff Records (ESR) roll out provided some stunningly encouraging information as how the NHS is using e-learning.

The NHS’s ESR project is the world’s biggest programme of its kind, which commenced in 2001 and rolled out in 2008 and it provides almost the whole of the NHS with an integrated human resources, learning management and payroll system, providing data on the 1.4 million employees in the NHS.

HSJ reports that this Oracle based system is providing major savings to the NHS in automation of staff transfers, dealings and a wide range of self service functions including: managing leave and absence reporting and recording to the setting up of e-learning courses. In addition there are functions to support and streamline pre-employability checks, appraisals and development and registration status.

The HSJ reports how the learning and talent management functionality gives managers the ability to record an appraisal and personnel development plans that can be used to plot competence gaps in individuals and departments.

if an organisation then identifies training courses for its staff, staff can be enrolled on the classes through self- service” explains a senior manager for ESR to HSJ. “Then through learner management and e-learning an organisation could agree a suite of courses they want staff to go on, create a learning path and enrol staff”. Indeed the ESR Employee self- service functionality allows staff to look at the catalogue of learning available and decide or apply for a specific course.

This in itself is not unusual LMS functionality, but what is exceptional is the growth in uptake of learning and particularly e-learning presented in the tables published by HSJ.

A rough and ready analysis of the tables shows a steady year on year growth in overall learning enrolment’s on ESR a month by month basis from about 475,000 in January 2011, with some seasonal dips to a steady level of almost 800,000 per month in March, April and May 2013.

Within the overall mix the e-learning uptake element is highlighted and at a rough estimate it has increased threefold between January 2011 and May 2013. In January 2011 there was close to 28,000 e-learning course completions, in March 2012 (the peak performing month) over 107,000 e-learning course completions and 95,000 in April 2013.

In January 2009 e-learning course completion was minimal and hadn’t moved much in January 2010, but then started to climb slowly in 2010 and on to 2011.

The table “Rise of e-learning” shows 2012 being the year of “take off” for e-learning in the NHS, and 2013 shows a steadying of growth and a levelling out of usage/completion levels for e-learning. We would now estimate that the NHS is delivering through ESR about 23 to 28 per cent of its training by e-learning in March – May 2013.

We know from vendors such as Virtual College that e-learning works in healthcare, they alone have provided over 100,000 completions for their e-learning course on Safe Use of Insulin. The HSJ quotes Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust reports that ESR has increased compulsory training rates by 20%. In addition Derbyshire who have developed the “Training passport” approach reports that about three quarters of all training is now conducted through e-learning – making significant time and money savings.

So a NHS project focusing on Electronic Staff Records has with innovation and imagination encompassed e-learning with impressive effect. While ESR is reported to have saved £16 million in data duplication costs alone per annum, the uptake of e-learning and the savings made in time and money must in our view eclipse that figure.

Our rough and ready analysis indicates about 25% or so of NHS Training delivered by e-learning, Derbyshire Trust is up at closer to 75%, so there is some considerable potential growth in this market yet.

Source HSJ 16th August 2013 – Supplement HSJ-ESR: “Make The Connection – Time to Wake up to the Potential of Electronic Staff Records to Transform Care”

You can find the supplement here