Kelly Marsh serves as training lead for the LPDH. A teacher at heart, he understands the role that emotion plays into any Go-Live experience, having led training and support teams responsible for educating more than 250,000 end users throughout his 25-year career as a professional educator and project manager.
He took a brief pause in preparing for Wave Travis to reflect on the experiences and insights he has gained – from his early college professors days, to surviving the ‘road warrior’ lifestyle as a healthcare consultant.
You’ve been with the team for six months now. What career milestones led you to this position?
I’ve been implementing Cerner software for approximately two decades and have been through approximately 90 Go-Live deployments with all kinds of different functionality and systems – emergency departments, surgical, anesthesia, labor and delivery – basically Cerner’s whole suite.
Education has been a key part of my background for 25 plus years. I worked for Cerner part-time while I was a professor at a small college in Kansas City and then accepted a full time position in 2002. During those years, I also pursued PhD studies at the University of Missouri. When I found few teaching opportunities, I decided to go the self-employed route in July 2005. Working in this line of business required being on the road 220 nights a year and I did that for 14 years. At the time, my biggest client was Christiana Care in Wilmington, Delaware.
What professional and personal skills are needed to plan and execute the training strategy for a large-scale, complex program like MHS GENESIS?
Patience is critical in this environment. On a project of this size and importance, a lot of things do get spun up, and so it’s patience, and an ability to prioritize what needs to be done at this moment. I think it’s also listening and understanding motivations.
This role requires me to interact with more than 150 people here and in the field. I have about 45 trainers in the field right now and another dozen training coordinators who work with them. We have a team of content developers and their managers, and people who package and deliver the content. I also interface with our government counterparts often on a daily basis as well as the other functional leads on the program.
Without listening skills and patience, it could become chaos. This is the most challenging job I’ve ever had. No question. But I really enjoy it and I am very glad I am here.
There has been a lot of discussion about the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) sites and lessons learned. What were the key refinements made to the training program and are you seeing a difference in outcomes?
MHS GENESIS will change the work life of thousands of people. And nobody really likes change. The training we initially implemented was basically functionality training. We told people to click here or click there. We didn’t always make it relevant to what people do in their jobs. So users were struggling to figure out how they were going to incorporate the change into daily work life.
Based on that feedback, we created scenario-based training where lessons are presented in a way that relates to what you will do and how you will use the system. Business workflows were incorporated into the training. And that made a huge difference. Also, our trainers are high performers. Some are really good at elbow support, others at managing a classroom. They all work very hard. When training concluded in mid-August we had trained 87 percent of all users in the Travis Wave.
From our surveys and anecdotal comments, we are receiving very positive responses about our trainers. As good as they have been, I think it’s important to say that we should be prepared for some emotion during Go-Live.
That’s an interesting observation. How does emotion manifest itself in this setting?
Go-Live is an emotional time. The change is emotional. It is something that we should expect, and we should not, in my opinion, be overly concerned if there is strong emotion by users in the first couple days. Because it takes time to get things like this to play out and for users to become comfortable with the new system.
When you Go-Live with a system, the typical thing that happens is, the first day you evaluate by the minute, by the hour. How’s it going? Does the system work? Are the devices in place? Are people able to log in? Day two, it gets a little more complex, as people are starting to get more into the system, and the superficial nature of the newness is gone. Day three can really be interesting as users are able to go deeper into the functionality.
It’s hard to evaluate the success of a Go-live based on the first couple days, and we shouldn’t. We should let the system settle for everybody. I would say in several days to several weeks, we’ll know that it’s a success. And, I truly believe it will be because we have a well-developed system and the training has gone very well. We need to get through the emotion of the change.
In this final preparation phase before Wave Travis Go-Live, what are the primary challenges you are facing? How do you intend to mitigate these challenges?
Our biggest challenge after creating new content has been getting everyone up to speed and the trainers oriented and understanding how the material works. We’ve gotten past that, and people are doing well. The pieces are in place. For Go-Live, we need to ensure we have the people that know how to support, and know the answers, or know how to get the answers, in the right places.
How will the training strategy continue to evolve into 2020 and future waves?
From a training perspective, we will be doing maintenance to our training content with some new content being developed. There will be a lot of sustainment of our training before we ramp up in February and March 2020 with the next wave. I am excited about implementing a repeatable process for each of our Go-Lives, where we lay a process down as our best practice and it is sustainable and repeatable.