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Ko Awatea & Counties Manukau District Health Board breaks down silos to save up to $270,000 a year with Totara Learn

Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) provides health and disability services to over 500,000 people living in New Zealand’s local authorities of Auckland, Waikato and Hauraki District.

CMDHB is one of twenty district health boards established under the provisions of the New Zealand Public Health & Disability Act 2000 (NZPHD Act 2000).  

Ko Awatea is the innovation hub within Counties Manukau District Health Board, with a guiding vision is to be a hub of education, improvement and innovation to support health systems and public services locally, nationally and internationally.

The Challenge

New Zealand’s healthcare sector is rapidly growing, with an estimated workforce of around 60,000 across 21 District Health Boards (DHBs), and the sector has never been more hungry for learning technologies than it is now.

However, there is vast disparity between DHBs with the dedicated departments and funding to create and maintain e-learning and LMS projects – typically larger DHBs – and those without these vital resources – typically DHBs with fewer than 2,000 employees.

Typically, DHBs have operated in silos. However Ko Awatea, the innovation hub within Counties Manukau District Health Board, wanted to develop a platform, LEARN, to enable DHBs to break down silos by leveraging an LMS and the power that e-learning offers to connect the sector, remove cost barriers and meet the demands of learners and educators across the country.

LEARN needed to be open to meet the needs of a population wider than just CMDHB. Many other DHBs didn’t have the resources or experience in creating e-learning, and working together allowed Ko Awatea and CMDHB to provide that access and open up the community for the greater good.

The Solution

Ko Awatea and Counties Manukau District Health Board partnered with Catalyst to design, deliver and implement Totara's LMS platform 'Totara Learn' upon which LEARN is based. This project was not only to launch LEARN for CMDHB, but also to all other DHBs in New Zealand, helping create communities and partnerships which would create value for one another across the country.

This system needed the key drivers to reduce duplication and create a national e-learning network, making Catalyst the ideal Totara Partner with their long-standing experience of implementing large-scale learning platforms. Catalyst’s Totara Learn solution provides the DHBs with a support and development model which facilitates content development and skill-building, with sustainable and scalable support available as the platform grows.

Ko Awatea and CMDHB worked closely with Catalyst to ensure that LEARN meets all of the needs surrounding IT System Assurance. Working within these assurance frameworks, as well as their scope and system, was crucial to the success of this project, and Catalyst’s experience ensured that that was the case. This also involved protecting sensitive data, which Catalyst helped them achieve through their technological expertise.

Catalyst helped Ko Awatea and CMDHB bring together the knowledge and experience of all the DHBs involved, making a powerful central resource for New Zealand’s healthcare sector. This meant creating a consistent look and feel across the LMS, and making it as user friendly as possible to ensure it remained accessible across the diverse learner network. Totara Partner Kineo was also involved in the theming element of the implementation process, ensuring the platform remained on brand and instantly recognisable to users across various DHBs.

Course sharing is also built into the LMS, with any course created within LEARN becoming available for others to use, modify or redevelop. This means that any new DHB joiners have automatic access to a portfolio of courses, and do not have to start from scratch.

Partnering with other DHBs enabled everyone to learn from each other and speed up the development process. This collaborative way of working has enabled DHBs to develop their skillsets collectively and faster than they could have managed working in isolation.

Ko Awatea Totara Learn

The Results

Currently, the LEARN platform has more than 23,000 users and 500 courses across 11 DHBs. It is one of the largest learning platforms in New Zealand.

LEARN has been highly beneficial for the budget-squeezed healthcare sector in New Zealand, as the platform runs at cost. This means that for 91 cents per user, per year, a DHB can access the entire learning portfolio. For a smaller DHB of around 2,000 users, that is $1,800 to enable everyone to access the system – 10 to 20 times cheaper than the previous method of training.

At a typical running cost of around $15,000-$30,000 a year, only having one LMS across nine DHBs saves from $135,000-$270,000 a year. It is estimated that the LEARN system has provided around $1,237,220-worth of training to users so far, with almost 200,000 learning sessions a year averaging 20 minutes a session.

As the e-learning courses created are often very similar to one another, it has drastically cut the time spent on development and delivery. It has been estimated that this has saved over 300 hours of work and $15,000.

The platform has had the added benefit of improving digital literacy and competency of health educator staff across New Zealand, making national course co-development a reality and enabling New Zealand’s healthcare workers to share knowledge for a highly effective central resource. As well as this, the intangible benefits have been recognised throughout New Zealand’s healthcare system, such as front-line skill development and the resulting patient outcomes.

“Totara has not only provided us the functionality to deliver great on-line learning, but the scalability to grow into one of the largest education platforms in Australasia.” – Jason Ranston, Digital Services manager Ko Awatea, CMDH

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