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hurdle: Revolutionising software training for healthcare professionals

In a recent interview, we had the opportunity to speak with Natalie McKiernan, Chief Operating Officer, and Ben Woodthorpe, Chief Executive Officer, of hurdle, along with Karen Taylor, Digital Training Manager, and Claire Jacques, Digital Training Team Leader, from Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust (LSCFT).

The interview shed light on hurdle’s innovative approach to software training using a virtual classroom and its successful pilot project with LSCFT. The conversation highlighted the significance of hands-on practice, improved staff feedback, and the role of collaboration in digital transformation within the healthcare sector.

The birth of hurdle:

hurdle was born out of the need for a better online learning experience, particularly in software training. Ben, drawing from his background in delivering software training, recognised the challenges faced in engaging learners and providing effective guidance remotely. “hurdle is a virtual classroom that goes beyond traditional meeting platforms, offering hands-on practice and real-time engagement with learners. The platform aims to enhance data quality in trusts, learning outcomes, and user experience, ultimately supporting digital transformation in the NHS,” Ben highlighted.

The LSCFT pilot project:

“The partnership between hurdle and LSCFT set out to achieve several objectives. The trust sought to enhance training delivery, reduce costs, and support sustainability. Karen and Claire highlighted the initial challenges faced by the trust during the pandemic when they had to switch to a meeting platform for the training to support a 4500-user system roll out. Feedback declined as hands-on experience became limited which was addressed by the introduction of hurdle. Additionally, the implementation of hurdle led to remarkable results, with over £40,000 saved in travel and efficiency expenses and the reclamation of two training rooms for clinical purposes. The pilot project provided valuable insights and shaped the future development of hurdle, allowing the trust to explore new training initiatives.”

Engaging people in digital transformation:

Natalie emphasised the importance of digital transformation in the NHS and the ever-evolving needs of the healthcare sector. hurdle provides a platform for developing digital abilities across organisations, empowering individuals to be more confident in their roles. Ben highlighted the significance of bringing people along on the digital journey and fostering collaboration. hurdle aims to support the NHS in this process by facilitating communication, teamwork, and knowledge sharing among healthcare professionals.

Working with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

Another trust using the hurdle platform is Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Anna Counsell, Deputy IM&T IT Systems Manager, explained: “The early 2020’s, I believe, will be known as the digital growth era for the NHS. As IT Systems Trainers we needed a platform to offer a blended approach to training including quality hands on experience alongside our excellent elearning packages, and Hurdle is that platform.

“Hurdle allows trainers who have spent years training in a classroom setting to be, once again, using their strengths in delivering, monitoring, and assessing tailored sessions to individuals and groups ensuring delegates are informed and well-practiced on the IT System they will be using when delivering care to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh patients. This ultimately enhances patient care and ensures more accurate and efficient record keeping. Hurdle the company have been a pleasure to work with, their customer service is outstanding and hopefully our partnership will be a long one.”

Looking ahead:

Natalie and Ben expressed their pride in working alongside the NHS and their dedication to expanding hurdle’s reach. With successful collaborations in 12 NHS trusts, hurdle aims to further improve digital confidence and contribute to the overall digital transformation in healthcare.

hurdle’s virtual classroom platform has proven to be a game-changer in software training for healthcare professionals. Through successful pilot projects, such as the one with LSCFT, hurdle has demonstrated its ability to enhance training delivery, save costs, and support sustainability. By prioritising hands-on practice and collaboration, hurdle enables healthcare organisations to embrace digital transformation effectively. As hurdle continues to expand its reach and forge partnerships with trusts across the country, it is poised to play a vital role in empowering healthcare professionals and driving innovation in health tech.

To find out more about hurdle, you can contact the team at hello@hurdle.live or visit their website at www.hurdle.live where there is a short ninety second explainer video on the hurdle training platform www.hurdle.live/evolution

The full interview with Natalie, Ben, Karen and Claire can be viewed below.

Where did hurdle come from?

Ben: One of the main reasons that hurdle came about was because I recognised how difficult it is to deliver online live learning for software applications. There are a number of challenges; for example, it was difficult to properly show people how to do things and it could be a struggle to engage, using the tools that we had available. There was a real need to deliver better online learning to customers.

We needed to build a product that was more aligned with the classroom experience – something that had more of the human connection, with an ability to check on how learners are getting on and to offer support where needed. There was a need for this before the pandemic, but then COVID came along and accelerated everything, we thought: something needs to be done.

A virtual classroom that facilitates software training live, online

Natalie: Effectively, hurdle is a virtual classroom that facilitates software training live, online. It offers an engaging training experience, similar to the classroom but online. hurdle enables the trainer to present to the virtual classroom, monitor progress in one screen and take control where needed to offer additional support. There are plenty of features for the trainer to manage the classroom and tools for the learners to engage. It also provides flexibility for people living and working across the UK as they can join the same session, and there are the financial and sustainability benefits that go hand-in-hand with that. The platform is used to improve data quality and learning outcomes of those particular users.

It’s worth pointing out that there is a key difference between delivering a software training session using a virtual classroom that is live online, and a meeting platform. A meeting platform can be a passive experience – a demonstration tends to be performed for the learners, but they do not have the facility to have that hands-on practice with a trainer monitoring and supporting in real time. That’s what hurdle provides. When you are learning a new software skill, it’s so vitally important to have that hands-on practice. It improves confidence, and it demonstrates to the trainer that you are competent in what you are doing.

“More things are possible”: the pilot project with Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust

Ben: We learned a lot from the pilot. We didn’t want to try and go to the wider NHS and claim that we had a great product from the start – we wanted to engage with a forward- thinking digital trust and go through the experience with them, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and improve the product. They helped shape the product and their feedback made it immeasurably better.

Alongside the statistical benefits that Natalie will speak about, I think the pilot really showed us – both hurdle and the trust – that more things are possible. There has been an experimental sense around training delivery, and I know the trust are trying new initiatives off the back of the pilot.

We continuously listened. We’re software trainers ourselves, but there was so much we could learn from the years of experience in that one training team that we engaged with for this pilot. It was all about working collaboratively so that we could improve the product together.

Natalie: We set some key objectives at the beginning of our project with LSCFT – they were around developing the functionality of hurdle to meet the requirements for the NHS. We wanted trusts to adopt hurdle moving forwards regardless of the pandemic status; to reduce the number of training rooms available and give those back for clinical space; to support sustainability; and to improve staff feedback on training delivery. The trust had identified that when they had moved to a meeting platform for software training, feedback had declined because people didn’t feel that they were getting that hands-on experience.

The trust has run 258 sessions with hurdle in the past year and to date they’ve saved just over £40,000. That’s been calculated on saved travel expenses and time saved for those who no longer have to get to a particular location to attend training and log on where they are based, be it on site or at home. Two training rooms were also given back to the trust, which are now being used for clinical space.

You can’t undervalue the change for the individual teams, and that’s something to be really mindful of. We had to understand particular ways of working within the trust and we had to be flexible and adapt to their needs.

The pilot shaped the product, but it also shaped how we engage with other trusts as well. We’re very grateful for the support from LSCFT.

Engaging with people

Ben: The NHS is massive and there’s so much change happening. They move mountains on a daily basis and there’s a lot of technology involved in that, but at the heart of that, it’s about the people. A big theme within digital transformation is bringing people along with you on the journey. There are lots of agendas trying to move transformation forwards, but at the end of the day it only happens if you’ve got people on board.

To get people on board, you can’t have them sitting in isolated siloes, expected to learn new technologies without support. You need to bring groups of people together and get them to talk and work through things together. Giving people the opportunity to teach each other is really helpful too. I think hurdle is well-placed to help the NHS bring people on that digital journey and provides them with a tool to support that in a practical sense.

Natalie: As we know, the NHS Long-Term Plan places focus on bringing digital into mainstream care across the NHS. Digital is here to stay, and it is ever evolving, as are the needs of the NHS. We believe It’s about finding the right product for the right need.

Looking to the future

Natalie: We’re very proud to be working for and alongside the NHS. It’s such a fantastic opportunity to be working with the trust and to have had their support over the past year. Our aims are to expand the use of hurdle to educate learners, aid digital growth and transformation. Currently we are working within the North but are looking forward to working with other trusts in other regions. We want to be known as the platform that supports personal growth for people, enabling them to be more confident in their jobs.

Ben: We’re also looking forward to continuing the conversation with other trusts – following on from that pilot, we’re now working with 12 NHS trusts. We’re exploring what we can do to improve people’s confidence with digital and help to take steps forward in digital transformation.

Working with Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust: the trust’s view

Karen Taylor and Claire Jacques from the trust shared their perspective on the pilot with hurdle.

Karen is LSCFT’s digital training manager. She takes a strategic role in heading up the department, where responsibilities include digital technology, clinical systems, and training clinical and administrative staff on the software that they use on a daily basis. Claire is digital training team leader at the trust, following her role as a trainer in which she used hurdle to deliver her sessions.

The start of the journey with hurdle

Karen: We’re a big trust with a massive footprint, and we had training rooms scattered around the different localities. The geographical footprint has expanded since the training team was established, too, so our trainers are all within a small radius despite the size of the footprint. There was a lot of travelling involved to reach everyone.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, we were predominantly using on-site classroom-based training. When we all got sent to work from home, our primary option to continue offering the training service that we needed was to go onto an online meeting platform. In the middle of the pandemic, we were rolling out a massive electronic patient record system to our mental health services, which involved around 4,500 staff. We used the meeting platform, which meant that staff didn’t get that hands-on experience and the chance to have a go on the system.

At the end of 2021, a member of our organisation contacted the digital training team and told us about hurdle. They were looking to secure a pilot with the NHS and we bit their hand off for the opportunity – we thought it might just be the answer to our prayers.

It’s been a really positive experience, and it’s enabled us to offer a really great service to our staff who are based far out from our central location.

What is Hurdle used for?

Claire: Predominantly we train on our clinical system RiO – that was the first system that we started using hurdle for.

Since those initial training sessions, we’ve embedded that training within the team and we’ve started to branch out to other systems. We use the Nervecentre system, so we’ve been using hurdle to train staff on that. hurdle allowed us to use a hybrid approach, so we could have people learning in-person, live online and for some tasks or job roles e-learning was an option so we offer a fully blended learning approach. A fundamental part of using hurdle is that the trainer is able to see what’s happening for people learning virtually and support them as though they were there in the physical classroom.

In the future, we have plans to use hurdle for some of our other clinical systems and also things like OneDrive and Microsoft training.

Benefits of Hurdle

Karen: One of the key benefits we’ve found is how open hurdle are to our suggestion and improvement ideas. When we’ve made suggestions or feedback, hurdle has dealt with it in a really proactive way – looking at adding improvements to their roadmap and then executing them. That’s been really great. They’ve very innovative in terms of what they want the platform to be able to do.

As part of the NHS, we’re obviously quite restricted on what we can do with data due to information governance. hurdle is ISO27001 accredited and has worked with us to make sure that we can protect the data that we’re using within the organisation whilst making it as accessible as we safely can, for the staff involved in the training. It’s been a fab relationship from beginning through to this point.

The ultimate benefits for us are the flexibility, inclusivity, digital training offering and overall cost saving hurdle provides to our trust.

Developing a working group

Karen: We’ve now developed a working group so we can collaborate with other trusts using hurdle. We were the pilot and since then other trusts have started working with hurdle, or are being onboarded. We thought it would be really good to have a monthly meeting where we can get together and help the new trusts by offering our experience and our journey. They might also have ideas or ways that they are facilitating training that could be useful for us.

During the course of the meetings, it has evolved to share ideas in other areas too, like how we can make our training more engaging. Systems training is dry by nature; how can we make it an experience that staff enjoy, so they come away from it with a sense of the benefits they will get from it in their day-to-day roles?

Claire: It’s a good way for us to support each other – whilst hurdle is a virtual training platform, we’ve invited two of the trusts from within the group to come along to our site and to shadow two of our trainers as they deliver on hurdle. It gives them a chance to see what it’s all about before they jump into their own delivery.

It’s been a really positive experience and it’s something that I’d like to see more of as we expand this forum, and as more trusts start to implement hurdle as a training platform. It’s good for the trainers; it gives them some recognition for how far they’ve come in their own professional development, it lets them share skills, and it opens up conversations and ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of on our own.

Many thanks to Natalie, Ben, Karen and Claire for sharing their thoughts.

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