The inadvertent benefits

In the previous edition we discussed how a custom solution helped to get information out to people in a more effective manner. What I didn’t tell you was that when I was approached to develop that solution, it was intended solely with the idea of improving the method of delivery. However, as you read, it not only did that but it also saved employees’ time and eased their job responsibilities almost accidentally, or inherently. I tell you this now because in this edition, we are going to look at a situation where I was approached to develop a solution with the intent to save the employee time and effort. While this goal was accomplished, it also provided a better delivery method and a better experience for the customer.

Some people with disabilities need help with various kinds of daily tasks such as getting dressed, transportation,  meals and many others. On top of these needs, some have needs that require medical training from certified trainers. These tasks might involve things such as feeding tubes, insulin administration, and, as most people who are performing health care duties, CPR/First Aid. Whether you are an agency or an independent provider, it is probably a good idea to out source these trainings so that you can be sure you are meeting all requirements for government regulations. Plus, it is also most cost efficient in many cases instead of having a certified trainer on your payroll at all times. Dynamic Pathways, Inc. is a company who specializes in support for home health care workers. Not only do they provide the legally required training, they also provide other trainings that are designed to improve the quality of care people with disabilities receive.

I had been in charge of their website for a number of years before they came to me with a need to reduce the amount of work that the secretary was doing. Dynamic Pathways were registering people for trainings manually either by phone or e-mail. This was a big hassle for a couple of obvious reasons but to make it more difficult, each class had a limit as to how many participants could attend. So they would send out a schedule with all of the trainings they were having for that next month or so, and agencies would call or e-mail the secretary to schedule the agency’s employees. One problem with this was, by the end of the first week, some trainings were already filled up but only the secretary knew this. An agency would have to call the secretary to schedule, the secretary would have to check availability of the training and if there wasn’t anymore room, the agency would have to figure out a different time that their employee could attend and start the process over. Needless to say, this created a lot of void work for the secretary and took her away from other duties she needed to be performing.

The solution was to move the registration process to be on-line through their website! The first step in this was to get their training schedule on their website and to give them the ability to add/edit trainings themselves in a way that did not require any website development knowledge. To make this a bigger challenge, these types of trainings were sometimes spread out over a couple of days so they needed a way to specify times for each day of the training. They also all had to collate together as if they were one single training since there were a limited number of seats. This in itself made the secretary’s work easier since she would be able to update the website and simply have the customers check there for availability.

The next step in this process was to allow agencies and individuals to create accounts on the website so they would be able to register for the trainings. This was needed for a couple of reasons. First and foremost was so that the agencies could go in and either take one of their employees out of a training or move them to a different one if a scheduling conflict arose or the employee left the agency before the training date.

Another reason it was important for people to have accounts in order to register was for payment reasons. These trainings costs money to attend so there was a need to know who had paid and who hadn’t. Instead of relying on being paid at the time of the training, or after, we set up the ability for agencies/individuals to pay on-line at the time of registering. By doing this, they are able to have a realistic idea of how many participants each class would have. Since all of this is automated, there is a real-time count on how many seats were left in any given class which means the person doing the registering is able to choose a class easier instead of having to call the secretary to check on availability. This makes the job of Dynamic Pathways’ customers easier also.

As you can see in this situation, we had an issue of needing to reduce the amount of time that Dynamic Pathways’ secretary was using on tedious and mundane tasks and accomplished this goal, but also inherently creating a better experience for their customers. As I’m thinking about future editions of this newsletter, it is becoming apparent to me that this is a common trend in a lot of the custom solutions that I have developed. Without knowing it at first, the automation of tasks oftentimes has affect on an unattended goal. Of course it is crucial to be aware of what kind of unattended affect it may have as it may not be a desired one.