My guest today is a relative newcomer to learning technology. However, he’s already leaving an indelible mark on the learning systems world – especially in the healthcare LMS space. I’m talking about Troy McClain, Founder and CEO of Tovuti.
Troy is fearlessly taking on the digital training market with a fresh, enthusiastic view of what it means to support learning in highly regulated industries.
In this episode, we look at what inspired Troy to found Tovuti, and what he’s learning about the unique needs of healthcare providers in the Covid era.
Many learning platform vendors avoid serving healthcare clients because regulatory issues are so demanding and healthcare LMS requirements are so complex. But the market opportunity is massive.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic has been redefining healthcare learning dynamics. For multiple reasons, flexibility and speed are now more important than ever in a healthcare LMS.
Smart vendors can set themselves apart by focusing first on the human side of the healthcare learning equation, rather than letting industry standards and regulations dictate their platform strategy.
Welcome, Troy. Could you start by telling us about Tovuti?
You bet. In short, Tovuti is the next-generation learning solution. We help organizations scale up by helping them deliver online courses that help their teams skill up.
We’re already one of the biggest platforms in terms of market penetration. And that’s very exciting, since we started in 2017 and didn’t even really launch until 2019.
You guys are on fire – especially as a healthcare LMS provider. Why did you start this company?
In truth, my kid sister was my inspiration. She is profoundly deaf and developmentally delayed.
I took legal guardianship of her in 1998, and since then I’ve been passionately fighting for her educational rights and new ways to help her learn.
So, fast-forward to 2017, when I decided the pedagogical path she was on wasn’t achieving the outcomes I thought she could achieve. So I founded Tovuti, which happens to mean “center of knowledge” in Swahili.
Now to be clear, we didn’t build a special needs platform. Instead, we’ve democratized a set of online tools that make it possible for any learning professional, educator or administrator to build their own solution focused on whatever outcome they desire for their organization.
Interesting. I know Tovuti is rapidly gaining ground as a healthcare LMS. Why does your approach appeal to healthcare providers, in particular?
We’re seeing an important transformation of the healthcare landscape. Hospitals and clinics are not just offering administrator and management-track training anymore.
Now, we’re seeing a well-earned shift to soft skills training for underserved frontline workers. In other words, rather than focusing on training these people in technical skills alone, organizations are offering them the kind of education traditionally provided in vertical leadership development.
Since you’ve been building this healthcare LMS specialty over the past few years, you’ve seen the impact of Covid firsthand. What’s your take on how the industry’s needs are changing?
While the need for soft skills training continues to be important for leaders in traditional point-of-care settings like hospitals and emergency clinics, Covid has pushed the need for soft skills training to frontline workers such as registered nurses and home health caregivers.
So we’re seeing more organizations helping people in these roles learn how to develop better health care techniques, how to improve their “bedside manner” through soft skills, and how to be more inspired in their roles.
This is where we’re seeing the shift in the healthcare system. There’s more emphasis on equipping registered nurses and others involved in home health delivery and telemedicine, and less on people in hospitals and assisted living facilities.
They’re not just offering administrator and management training. They’re moving on from that.
Not that existing healthcare leadership education is going away. But this new frontline worker layer is a complement on top of traditional training needs.
How is that driving new healthcare LMS purchases?
We see multiple factors driving new purchases. For example, there are many strong learning platforms. But they require an IT specialist for implementation, and that slows their speed to education.
Companies like ours make it possible to accelerate this process by democratizing certain tools so self-implementation is a reality. And these tools are fully integrated.
This way, healthcare professionals can much more rapidly build out a video, a lesson, a course, or any type of learning path that trains, tracks and reports results.
Now, learning content that traditionally took weeks (if not months) to implement takes only hours (if not minutes) to develop and deploy.
It’s not that prior systems were bad. It’s just that those systems haven’t caught up with the power of an online ecosystem.
Let’s discuss democratization. What does that mean and why is it important in a healthcare LMS?
Medical care environments have highly complex LMS requirements. Learning must be integrated with other tools, such as HRIS systems. And because medical education is typically very specific, it is often outsourced.
With the kind of democratized tools we offer, people can easily build educational content that is not only highly specific and informative, but also highly engaging.
What would that look like?
For example, we include tools you would traditionally outsource, like augmented reality 3-D hotspots that let people enter a virtual environment and engage with them as part of a learning experience.
Let’s say you’re a learner who wants to discover where the ventilator and the fire extinguisher are located in an ambulance. In an augmented environment, a learner can enter a virtual ambulance, look around and interact with hot spots by clicking on these visual elements to discover more or to choose an answer.
So, by combining these intuitive digital capabilities with traditional learning, you can immerse the learner faster. You’re also able to share information more quickly, so the efficacy of that team member can be increased by a multiple of 2, 3, 4, or 5 times, while you’re keeping them engaged and entertained.
Interesting. So, do you find hospitals mostly create their own next-level content? Or do they bring in content from elsewhere?
The answer is both. We want to accelerate the speed of development. This gives organizations efficacy in the field as fast as possible. And that’s important in this landscape Covid has created.
So we integrate with best-of-class. But we don’t believe in death by plug-in. So, if you have content that’s already built out, we can do an application integration that makes it feel very seamless.
There are some third-party providers with phenomenal content you can deliver through a healthcare LMS. For example, Epic, OpenSesame and BizLibrary. If you find their content valuable, we can do an application integration that is very seamless.
However, if you want to build out a specific piece of content on your own, we have services and healthcare subject matter experts on our team who can help you with that, as well.
Another scary challenge for healthcare LMS vendors is how to support direct and indirect reporting scenarios. For example, a registered nurse may work on a floor with one set of compliance requirements but report directly to someone in another area of the hospital. Do you see that often?
We do run into that a lot. Because healthcare is so regulated, it has a sort of boogeyman persona among technology providers. But we believe that no matter the question, education is the answer.
So healthcare LMS vendors shouldn’t be scared of this. Instead, they should partner with healthcare providers by putting human needs first.
We think of Tovuti as a people-first platform that has the ability to work within regulations and within industry standards to overcome these challenges.
That’s a great way to approach it.
For instance, an effective healthcare LMS needs to provide ease of compliance with standards like HIPAA, SOC 1/SOC 2 and PHI so healthcare providers don’t have to worry about how information is being handled.
An administrator knows, “If I supply this information to this person, I have to gate it. It has to be PHI compliant. It has to be SOC I and SOC II compliant. It has to be HIPAA compliant.”
So this is really a gating process challenge.
Our system has the ability to assign content access only to appropriate people. So it’s easy for an administrator to gate content correctly, but still deliver the effectiveness and efficiency of online learning. And you can still report on its efficacy – whether it’s for registered nurses, ER doctors or others.
Mmhmm. I imagine another huge challenge with healthcare professionals is a lack of time for training, especially with Covid.
A nurse can’t just say, “OK, I’m going to sit down for 90 minutes and learn something.”
It seems like there’s never enough time in the day for anyone. But a triage approach helps reprioritize a situation. And we’re seeing more healthcare organizations reprioritizing education – pushing it down to the front lines.
So we make it possible for people to train simultaneously as a group, when required. Or they can choose to train by themselves when it’s convenient, through self-study and self-testing.
The hospital, clinic or pharmaceutical company decides if they want training to be delivered as a synchronous or an asynchronous learning experience. Tovuti gives them the flexibility to accommodate either.
John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
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