In 2002, I was working for HealthStream as the Leader of National Accounts. We provided computer-based regulatory training to hospitals. Our solution was available via client servers, as internet delivery would come later.
That year I was approached by a large long-term care group out of Boston. HealthStream did not provide services to long-term care and I wasn’t remotely familiar with the industry. After doing some digging, I recognized that there was a massive need for regulatory management in post-acute care.
This was around the same time that HealthStream was developing a web-based tool. While I was becoming increasingly interested in long-term care, HealthStream was committed to remaining in the hospital sphere with their new tool.
The Start of Silverchair
I decided to leave HealthStream and start Silverchair Learning Systems. I understood the market need in long-term care, now I just needed a product and customers with the conviction to find a better way to delivery regulatory training. A high school friend of mine had a company that meta-tagged web-enabled medical journals, allowing physicians to easily search through them – a regular software whiz! We were a perfect team!
When we started Silverchair, not only did we have to sell our online solution, but in many ways, we had to sell the concept of using a computer in general as most facilities didn’t have one. Needless to say, our first year was a struggle! In early 2003, Congress passed a Medicaid law that required facilities to transmit data electronically, thereby forcing facilities to have at least one computer and a dial-up connection. It was a beautiful thing and helped us get started.
In 2004, we were fortunate enough to establish a relationship with the Virginia Health Care Association (VHCA). They understood the need and believed in our solution. We soon established about 20 additional association relationships nationwide. This gave us the credibility we needed in the industry.
These relationships, coupled with our mantra, to make the product successful despite any customer’s inability to use technology, made a huge impact on our eventual success. We were able to live by our mantra by developing a very capable, dedicated and persistent customer service department. We focused heavily on maintaining our momentum in the rollout process. For example, when clients signed a service agreement, we made every attempt to have an initial kick-off conversation between our service team and our new clients within 3 days – sometimes even the same day! We wanted to get our customers up and running as fast as possible. It’s no secret that long-term care professionals work all day putting out a myriad of fires – you’ve got to move fast to keep up!
We were gaining traction, but we needed to prove utilization. To do this, I came up with the idea for a reporting dashboard – if you can measure it, you can manage it! The former method for measuring compliance was a call to the facility Staff Development Coordinator who would then review a sign-in sheet located in a binder. With Silverchair, compliance reporting was available 24/7 with a few key strokes.
The Straightaway Parallel
The Silverchair story parallels closely what we are doing at Straightaway. Staffing shortages are a significant business challenge for most (if not all) providers. We understand the business problem. With the backing of the Bertelsmann Education Group, we have created revolutionary software that enables organizations to manage their Nurse Aide supply at scale. We help you recruit students (emphasis on those close to your facility), prepare them to pass the state exam and for success on the job (clinical competence and emotional preparedness) and we have a suite of retention tools to help you retain them.
Most providers we know have tried a multitude of things to resolve the issue of staffing shortages: job fairs, compelling job ads, increased payout for employee referrals, retention bonuses – this list goes on!
We believe the issue of staff shortages is solvable and we have the resources to do it. We also know that there are provider organizations with the conviction to think differently alongside us. My colleagues and I look forward to working with you.