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Filling a Void at Saint Vincent Hospital

An interview with Molly Petroff, a 5 Moments of Need Designer at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, PA, around her organization’s 5 Moments Journey and the impact it is having on the performance of the workforce.

An Interview with Molly Petroff

“What I’m doing now is really affecting the work, the performance of people who are on the job. We couldn’t always say that before when we were teaching in the classroom.”

– Molly Petroff, 5 Moments of Need Designer

Bob Mosher (BM): How did the journey start for you?

Molly Petroff (MP): Honestly, it was accidental, or I guess—coincidental. I was at Elliott Masie’s Learning event and I didn’t have anything scheduled during one of the breakout hours and your session was quite literally—right there. I zipped in, not knowing how it would change my life.

BM: Well, we’re certainly glad you dropped in Molly! How did you then “convince”, for lack of a better word, your organization stakeholders and team that this was it?

MP: Well, after that first year which I spent developing my knowledge around the methodology, the whole team went to Masie and we followed you guys around like groupies. Then we just plowed ahead. Our stakeholders only saw a couple of screenshots of what we were trying to build and they really bought into the concept almost immediately.

As we worked with groups they would tell us, “This is great and we can also use it with this project!”

After the first project, we had a very easy time with buy-in around the build of additional projects.

BM: Training complains about always having to swim upstream for funding, and projects, and all this stuff. Why do you think this was different for you and your stakeholders in those initial conversations?

MP: A couple of reasons. At that point we did have our own funding for our own projects so that was a big help.

Second, our team has a very good working relationship with multiple other committees and leadership groups and I think they just trusted us to do the right thing for the institution, as that was what we had always tried to do in the past.

Finally, we had just come off a survey review that was very troublesome and we were offering them a credible solution to that problem so that it would never happen again, we hoped. So, all those things combined really helped us take off really kind of easily in the beginning.

BM: Well, it’s a crawl-walk-run, right? We say this a lot. Unlike training, frankly, this is won one project at a time. You have to build that momentum, and frankly, credibility even though you were a credible department. So how did you pick your battles? Are you able to say, or generalize at least what you started with?

MP: At the very beginning, we had a compliance issue that we had to fix. So we dived into doing safety for the hospital—a performance support solution—an EPSS for the hospital safety situation. And it covered all our codes and everything the compliance people wanted us to cover every year.

When we completed the project we took it to leadership and at that very meeting, or maybe the next day, I had a request on my desk for our next project. And as it went out to more people, the committees started having ideas about how they could use this type of support.

Within two weeks, we literally had so many projects on our back burner that we could never have completed them all in a year. It was just amazing how people just swarmed to this concept because it just made sense to people.

In my humble opinion, it was partly the way we built it—you know, the design worked for people. They could find what they needed. It just filled a void at the right time. Right now there are probably fifty different projects in our One Learning Place and probably forty or forty-five in the Safety GPS.

BM: Oh, my!

MP: So you know, we’ve done a lot of adding and revisions and corrections over the years. But we’ve been at this now since 2011.

BM: Wow. Every L&D Department would kill to have people queuing up projects like that versus the door-to-door selling your wares kind of thing. What challenges have you had to address along the way?

MP: Well, people still come to us with requests for courses and we have to convince them there’s a better way to do it, so that continues.

Also, when we initially put performance support out there as an idea, we at the same time, introduced the learning concept of the flipped classroom.

So that caused us some problems because they equated performance support with the same concept as the learning concept of the flipped classroom. So not all Five Moments were being addressed. Even still, we have to go back to them and say, “Okay you got the first part, but what about on-the-job?”

BM: Yep. Constantly re-educating.

MP: Yes indeed. I don’t know if that’s ever going to stop.

Bob: It’s an age-old mindset that is instilled in us since—we were kids. We have to make them smart, so we send them to school. It’s kind of become a reflex, to think training first.

When you look back on your journey, does anything surprise you in how you thought this would go?

MP: I think one of the early-on surprises for me was how well it was accepted and how everybody wanted some. That really was shocking to me. The other thing that surprised me personally was that what I’m doing now is really affecting the work, the performance of people who are on-the-job. We couldn’t always say that before when we were teaching in the classroom. So many other things affect it, but now I can really see how putting this support in the workflow enables our people to work better—it affects their work and it affects the outcomes for our patients. And that is really gratifying.

BM: Of course! Can you share a bit about your regulator award? I think that speaks volumes for an outside agency to recognize your work.

MP: Hospitals get reviewed by an organization called the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. That’s the big one. Once we get that accreditation, we can have our bills paid by the government, so that’s an important one. They come through and do a review and survey every three years, routinely.

The last time they came through was the end of 2016. They did their usual assessment. We tell people before they come, “If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions…”—because they interview people on the job—“If you don’t know the answer to a question…” they are allowed to say, “I don’t know but I can show you where I would find the answer.” So we tell them, “Take them to One Learning Place or to the Safety GPS and show them the answer and then answer their question. So we told them to do that if a question came up that they couldn’t answer.

About midway through the survey, they came to one of the leadership meetings and said, “Tell me more about One Learning Place.”

Obviously, someone had shown it to them and during an exit interview, the suggestion was made that our Safety GPS was an exemplary practice for the safety education for our hospital. I was kind of surprised that they actually referred to it as safety education and not a resource—that pleased me incredibly. At that same meeting, we heard that we should submit this to their leading practice library. JCAHO has an online library where other JCAHO organizations can go in and see what other people are doing that is really great. So, we submitted our article and it was accepted so we’re now also included in that library.

BM: Here’s the classic question, if you could go back and do anything differently what would it be—if anything?

MP: The way we rolled it out to our small educator groups, I think that if we had to do it again, I would do that differently. I would introduce the whole concept of what performance support is better so they don’t think it’s one thing when it’s another.

Connect with Molly to learn more about Saint Vincent’s performance improving 5 Moment solutions.