Using Online Learning to Enhance Your Emergency Preparedness Program

Emergency preparedness is a unique entity. It requires hospitals to work with different people, solving different problems and using different resources and strategies than those for routine emergencies. Readiness requires more than simply having an emergency operations plan (EOP). It necessitates ongoing training, a dedicated budget, and experienced leadership to sustain the effort. Hospitals properly prepared to respond to the litany of emergencies that they may confront provide ongoing training to their staff, ensure that their hospital leadership is well versed in emergency management and use of the Incident Command System, and exercise their EOP often.

New Guidance by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Current accreditation standards by organizations such as The Joint Commission (TJC) and the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) have contributed significantly to the enhanced emergency preparedness of hospitals. New guidance proposed in 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which may be enacted this year, will likely place additional preparedness requirements on hospitals. CMS wants to establish new guidance because the agency believed the current emergency preparedness requirements for healthcare facilities were “not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of actual emergencies.” All providers accepting federal and state funds under CMS will be required to establish a compliant emergency preparedness program.

One of the four core elements that CMS feels is integral to a healthcare facility’s emergency preparedness program is training and testing. Providing such training in a cost-effective, standardized manner that is readily available to all staff is a challenge for most hospitals. Barriers that must be overcome include acquiring expertise to provide the training, ensuring that it is up-to-date and focused on the needs of hospitals, and creating a process for the training to be available to all staff, including those who work evenings, nights and weekends. To properly address these training challenges, hospitals are looking to online emergency management educational programs to help fulfill this objective.

How eLearning Supports Organizational Goals

Online learning, also known as eLearning, is a rapidly growing industry. Traditional methods of training are not going away, at least not yet, but businesses, schools, and hospitals are opting to train and inform via the web to provide another resource to their staff. If done right, eLearning can produce great results by decreasing costs and enhancing access to training. For most institutions, online learning supports the organizational goals by:

  • Reducing training costs. Producing learning content is time consuming whether it is online or not. FTE time is needed to develop, deliver, and assess training provided. Training records must be maintained and student performance monitored. Online offerings can provide all of these services at a reduced cost. In addition, when education is offered online, further savings are gained through decreased travel, reduced training materials, and in many cases, lowered fees.
  • Decreasing material costs. In online education, virtual environments can be created to reinforce learning without worrying about the costs associated with their setup, use, and cleanup. Examples of such environments include moving virtual patients through a decontamination corridor, evacuating patients down a stairwell, and guiding staff through the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment.
  • Increasing productivity. Because eLearning is not bound by geography or time, managers can control training’s impact on busy departments by training staff during down times. Coursework can be accessed anytime through 24/7 availability giving staff the flexibility they desire.
  • Standardizing Education. A hospital may have a great educator, but that’s no guarantee that the courses are presented the same across all sessions. eLearning allows one to create a standardized curriculum and consistency in the delivery of content. It also compresses delivery time, which becomes more appealing to participants.
  • Improving Learning. Professionally developed online training based on proven educational methods, such as student/system interactions, enhances material retention and program participation. In addition, the use of videos and voice-overs is a great way to boost the eLearning experience. Finally, the use of graphics, professional audio, and quizzes increases the likelihood that the eLearning content will be completed and knowledge will be retained.

About DQE-On-Demand eLearning for Healthcare Preparedness

DQE-On-Demand uses engaging animation and professional voice over to teach procedures and demonstrate emergency management skills clearly and effectively. Created in response to hospital requests for more efficient and affordable training for their staff, DQE-On-Demand is a scalable learning resource that provides 24-hour access for ultimate flexibility. Courses contain up-to-date industry standards for Decontamination, Evacuation, and Hospital Incident Command (HICS). For more information go to


  • The Rapid eLearning Blog –
  • Forbes/Tech. Online Learning Industry Poised for $107 Billion in 2015. Aug 27, 2014.