Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM)
“The ability to customize our solution to match the needs of our organization has been critical to the success of our project and to the college. The Heritage College looks forward to continuing our partnership with the AllofE team and look forward to continued product enhancements and efficiencies realized by use of the system.”
The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM) is a national leader in training osteopathic primary care physicians. Our medical school emphasizes primary care, engages in focused research, and embraces both Appalachian and urban communities. Our college community commits itself to provide a clinically integrated, learning-centered, osteopathic medical education continuum for students, interns, residents and primary care associates; embrace diversity and public service; and improve the health and well-being of underserved populations.
Over the past several years, the Heritage College has rapidly grown from one campus to three campuses (Athens, Cleveland & Dublin), as well as implemented a brand-new curriculum, the Pathways to Health & Wellness Curriculum (PHWC). Due to rapid growth, it was recognized that many disparate databases and systems were further complicating the ability to manage and track student progress, as well as automate manual processes throughout the College.
Over two years ago, it was recognized the customized Microsoft Access database (i.e. Curriculum Tracker) utilized for Pre-Clinical Education scheduling was a source of risk and inefficiency for the College, as well as the students. The College implemented a system just for Pre-Clinical Education, but students were now exposed to two curriculum systems through Years 1-4. In addition to those two systems, Heritage College staff were tracking student data in multiple spreadsheets and Access databases. Much of this data was hand keyed and oftentimes resulted in duplicative work throughout the College as well as data inaccuracies and reporting problems.
To better understand workflows across the College, as well as reduce the amount of data duplication & associated efforts, two projects were launched in early 2019: the Operational Efficiency Project & the Data Standardization Project. The Operational Efficiency project mostly focused on data processes and staff workflows between the three campuses to highlight duplicative or inefficient processes. The Data Standardization project focused on data that was tracked throughout the College and its associated tracking, storage & reporting needs. Below is a summary of the operational challenges highlighted from the Operational Efficiency & Data Standardization Projects:
- Inability (without extreme manual effort) to adequately and consistently track student information through Years 1 – 4 (i.e. student exam scores, grades, attendance management, Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), etc.)
- Inconsistent processes for collecting & disseminating student information between campuses and technology systems (i.e. immunizations, certifications, background checks, etc.)
- Lack of an aligned and consistent curriculum map across all four years of medical education
- Little to no faculty & preceptor ability or empowerment to fully leverage systems in educating students
- Inability to easily provide management or decision support data upon request
- Higher cost to manage multiple systems and associated resource time
Overall, there were many disjointed processes between Years 1-2 & Years 3-4 due to technology & process silos. Both the Operational Efficiency & Data Standardization projects further supported the need for a holistic process & system improvement strategy for the Heritage College. The Heritage College sought a technology solution to address the items listed above, specifically for the administration of students & curriculum across all four years of medical education. After an intensive review, the Heritage College chose AllofE’s eMedley system to achieve a holistic, four-year medical education curriculum system.
The Solution: Implementing eMedley
The Heritage College started the implementation of eMedley in late 2019 to be ready by Fall 2020. We implemented the following eMedley modules:
- eCurriculum – This module was a focus for the College given our unique curriculum scheduling & calendaring needs, as well as the need to map many course objectives to multiple learning activities of the curriculum.
- eduCATE – The central point of our curriculum, the Learning Management System (LMS) functionality of eduCATE provides the ability to disseminate important course content to our students, as well as connect to the Gradebook without manual effort.
- eduSched – With over 2500+ preceptors and clinical campuses across the State of Ohio, having an efficient way to track preceptor capacity and schedule students was an important aspect and requirement of the curriculum system.
- eValuate – The College’s needs varied between pre-clinical and clinical years for evaluations, but this module provided the foundation to ensure a complex evaluation management.
- eKeeper – A large efficiency for the College was the ability to allow students to upload and update their own information (i.e. immunizations, certifications, etc.), as well as provide a reporting mechanism for administrative staff in tracking these requirements.
- eCLAS – Although the College does a limited amount of Patient Encounter Tracking, this module will allow us to expand student’s ability to track their progress in Clinical years.
The eMedley Implementation Project team included participants from every functional area of the College including pre-clinical education, clinical education, Admissions, Student Affairs & Community Health. It was very important to have a system governed by many, instead of siloed by function. The team met weekly, at a minimum, with more focused meetings occurring several times a week. The team focused on process improvements, in parallel with the system implementation. Phase 1 of our implementation included the following objectives:
- Security & Permissions Setup
- Integration of Student Data from Student Information System (SIS)
- Transition of historical information from previous curriculum systems
- System setup & configuration of functionality across the Years 1-4 of medical education including:
- Student Upload of Immunization & Certification Information
- Didactic Scheduling
- Clinical Rotation Scheduling
- Evaluations (i.e. Faculty, Preceptor & Student)
- Content & Assignments
- Curriculum Mapping (Initial Phase)
- Reporting for scheduling, faculty workload, accreditation and University facilities reporting
- Critical customizations (as outlined below)
The Heritage College purchased additional training with the AllofE implementation specialist, and we worked diligently through the Spring term to implement the system. The timeline was challenging, especially given that we were also facing challenges resulting from COVID-19. In the end, the project was completed on-time as the College went “live” with eMedley on July 1, 2020.
Customizing the Solution
While eMedley met many of our curricular needs, the ability to schedule our three-campus, shared didactic learning activities proved to still be a system need. In addition, the College had been analyzing processes throughout our operations and identified several areas for efficiencies due to manual, employee intensive work processes. With the help of the eMedley team, we have been able to implement many efficiencies in the system at a low-cost rate compared to rising FTE costs. In addition, the inaccuracy of data across the College have reduced significantly.
Upon contracting with AllofE, we agreed to a set of critical customizations that have truly been a game-changer for the Heritage College and our students including the following:
- Didactic Scheduling: The Heritage College delivers an integrated, multi-disciplinary curriculum to three campus locations via online platforms. Scheduling occurs centrally and requires that all curriculum events list multiple faculty, tied to a specific role, campus room and student group along with a broadcast location. This need required customization to efficiently condense this information to the scheduling screen in order to be visible to faculty, students and staff without creating multiple events on the curriculum calendar or working in multiple modules.
- Calendar “At-A-Glance” Reporting: The College also needed the ability the run specific reports for faculty and staff. Customization was used to create specialized reporting of data such as hours for learning activities, conflict reporting for overlaps in scheduling of rooms, faculty or students, and session information “at a glance” such as objectives and associated materials.
- Faculty Workload Reporting: The Heritage College calculates faculty workload based on the role they provide in a learning activity. Faculty time is then calculated by a multiplier to determine total academic workload for that faculty member. AllofE helped us customized this very specific process within the College for reporting and future planning purposes.
- Gradebook: The College had several needs related to customized functionality within the gradebook. Given our course construction and grading requirements, the following customizations were made:
- Flagging columns based upon scores (i.e. under-performing scores)
- Ordering of columns (for flexibility to add additional assignments throughout the course)
- Specialized calculated column functionality (and the ability to calculate within calculated columns)
- Greater flexibility for publishing and unpublishing grade columns (i.e. default to unpublish, review and publish later)
- Flexibility when importing evaluation score options
- Customized Case Log count option to display within a column
In addition to the challenges and solutions above, the Heritage College and eMedley collaborated on customizations and solutions related to the following areas:
- Added many unique student, faculty & preceptor demographic fields to eliminate duplicate databases, spreadsheets, etc.
- Common scheduling & content delivery platform for multiple curriculum programs within the College
- Ability to customize roles & permissions to support our curriculum
- Conversion from a paper-based to electronic Teaching Assignment Process
- Student upload of Immunizations & Certifications, including follow up/e-mail processes
- Standardized process for tracking rotation preceptor capacity (previously was a unique process per APAs kept in spreadsheets)
- Gradebook enhancements that eliminated need to track student grades across multiple events (in a different system) & ability to ad-hoc add assignments to the gradebook
- Gradebook for years 3 & 4 moved from spreadsheet based to eMedley
- Curriculum Mapping & reporting for all four years of medical education
- Advanced filtering options for increased efficiency and time saving
- Document upload functionality in evaluations and forms
- Student photo added to the Letter of Good Standing
- Attendance interface for faculty to be able to take attendance from the eCurriculum Calendar
The Heritage College will launch its next phase of eMedley implementation beginning in Fall 2020. As the college transitions to a single curriculum platform, particular focus will be placed on the following areas:
- Additional customization to facilitate our Rotational Site Preference process, as well as fourth year rotational request processes
- Implementation of the student mobile application
- Implementation of Student MSPE generation
In addition, the Heritage College also plans to implement ExamN for formative and summative assessment. Yet again, this implementation will eliminate another disparate test system for the College. By doing this, all our test banking, as well as associated curriculum mapping will be in a unified system.
Overall, we have been very pleased by the system and support of the AllofE team during our implementation. We knew going into the implementation that an “out of the box” system was not going to be a perfect fit for our College’s processes. The ability to customize our solution to match the needs of our organization has been critical to the success of the project and to the College. The Heritage College looks forward to continuing our partnership with the AllofE team and look forward to continued product enhancements and efficiencies realized by use of the system.