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Part 3: Managing HLC Hierarchies and Student Listings

ForYouHR Interview Series - Part 3

Series Overview

In this 6-part interview series, ForYouHR works with Brad Speck—HRIS and E-Learning Manager at Quorum Health—to help HealthStream Learning Center™ (HLC) administrators leverage powerful and often untapped platform capabilities. The series offers insight on what it means to be an HLC administrator; user roles and maintenance; managing hierarchies; building courses; reporting; and maximizing the full potential of the HLC. The content will empower administrators to streamline processes, better manage workloads, maximize ROI, and demonstrate their value as vital to organizational outcomes. For the full Series Overview, check out Part 1: The HLC Administrator’s Role in Improving Outcomes on the ForYouHR blog.

Part 3 – Managing Hierarchies and Student Listings in the HLC

Part 3 of the interview series finds e-Learning expert Brad Speck and ForYouHR’s Angela Novak discussing management of HLC hierarchies and student listings. This installment furthers the Part 2 discussion on HLC maintenance, expanding on proactive ways to reduce errors, save time and ensure compliance.

The Big Picture

Q: Hi Brad. It’s great to have you with us again! In our previous interview on maintenance, we touched on the importance of keeping the proverbial house in order when it comes to the HLC. Is this a continuation of that theme?

A: I think so, yes. In our last interview we highlighted maintenance reporting as a way to ensure employees are properly trained and keep the HLC uncluttered—free of stale and erroneous information. We identified one practice for accomplishing the latter as automation and regular review of student listing reports. We’re going to take a closer look at that here: Properly managing students in your hierarchy.

Q: Ok, so you’re really thinking about managing or maintaining the students in the hierarchy as opposed to the hierarchy itself. I think that’s an important clarification, because many administrators won’t really be managing the structure of the HLC hierarchy, right?

A: That’s true. The HLC hierarchy itself is basically static, so while our administrators need to know how to navigate it they won’t be manipulating or adjusting it.

Q: Right. Administrators generally work with HealthStream to make changes to hierarchy structure and ForYouHR helps streamline these projects, which can be quite large and time-consuming. Shifting thousands of students due to mergers, acquisitions or other reorganization has to be done quickly and accurately to avoid loss of import file data. We help complete these projects at lightning speed when customers don’t have the internal capacity. Our readers can view case studies on how we turned several-month restructures into one-week deliverables for a Colorado hospital and the Aspirus Network. Speaking of case studies, Quorum is pretty much a study in best practice for HLC hierarchy structure.

A: I suppose it is. When Quorum spun off of CHS a couple years back, CHS was already a large HLC customer. HealthStream worked closely with us to ensure we were set up for success, and we had a lot of experience with the HLC so we worked together to get it right.

Managing Students in Your Hierarchy

Q: Let’s talk about your structure and then move through it to manage students in it.


A: At Quorum, I manage the highest, enterprise level of our hierarchy and am the only one who does so. All other administrators with full access start at the next level, which is the organization (or facility) node. Each of our facilities then has sub-nodes that always include a hospital and a clinic, and some also have a surgery center and/or nursing home. Within each of those nodes, you’ll find employees and contractors.

Q: That seems reasonable. And depending on where you are in the hierarchy, you’ll see data for everyone at and under that level, right?

A: Yes, if administrators want to view or pull information for the entire facility, they can search at that level and find all employees and contractors within it—including the hospital, clinic and any other sub-nodes. If they want to view only students for the hospital, for example, they can navigate through the hierarchy to that particular node to narrow down results. Similarly, if they need to deal only with contractors at that particular hospital, they can navigate to that node to further refine their search results.

Q: Again, seems intuitive. So now that we know how to navigate through it, what do we need to know about managing students in the hierarchy?

A: To view and manage a particular student, it’s simple to search for them from the highest facility level and view their learning, assignments, transcripts, alerts, student groups, licenses and certifications, job functions and more. For reporting purposes, administrators might want to navigate down through the hierarchy and refine a search to limit output to a particular node (e.g. surgery center employees only).

Q: Right, and in terms of managing student listings for maintenance purposes, what do you want administrators to know?

A: It’s important to ensure student listings are accurate for a number of reasons, most importantly so the proper learning is being assigned to—and completed by—the right people. Staying on top of student listings saves administrators from time-consuming clean-up work if they let things get out of hand…and keeps them from running into problems down the road. Also, our facilities pay for each unique user ID, so quickly identifying inactive or duplicate students is important for cost control.

Q: You make a pretty strong case for regular review of student listings, especially since many HLC customers have more than one administrator working in the system. Shall we discuss how to find and address errors?

A: Yes. Administrators need to watch for two things: Inactive students and duplicates. I’ll talk about why these errors might occur and how to fix them at Quorum. For other HLC customers, this may look a little different. But the reasons for finding and fixing them are the same.

Q: So the process for fixing these issues may vary at other companies.

A: Right. At Quorum, student information feeds into the HLC through a file from Ultipro and Active Directory for employees and through Identity Database Management (IDM) for contractors. This is because our HR team uses Ultipro software (which feeds Active Directory) to manage employees, and our IT group uses IDM to manage contractor information.

Q: And student information from HR and IT needs to match what’s in the HLC, right?

A: Yes. If our administrators find students in their listing who need to be made inactive, they should talk to HR to update Ultipro for employees and to IT for updates to IDM for contractors.

Q: Ok, and what about duplicate student entries?

A: Duplicate entries often stem from a name misspelling or a name change. For a name spelling issue, our administrators should identify the most accurate listing and request that either their enterprise administrator (in this case, me) or HealthStream merge the second user ID with it. The process to fix name change issues is the same, but be aware that on the HR or IT side the old ID is overwritten by the new ID…so they won’t see two listings for the student. It will, however, reflect two listings in the HLC until the old ID is merged to the new ID.

Q: Great. And how should administrators monitor student listings for these issues?

A: Good question! They can run two reports to help manage this. The first is the Student Listing Report, which should be limited to “active” students. I recommend administrators automate this report and review it as part of their weekly or biweekly maintenance. Another is the Import Result Report, which shows updates in the file by week. This report will identify any errors that have come over from HR or IT, anything that doesn’t match up correctly with something in the HLC. It shows all updates made in “Import Status Summary” and any error messages in “Import Error Detail.” Sometimes a look at the student profile can help identify the problem/solution, other times administrators will need to address with HR or IT.

The Takeaways

Q: It may not be the most fun part of the job, so it’s important to tie this maintenance back to the big picture. Will you remind us why this work is critical?

A: Certainly. Keeping the HLC uncluttered and error-free allows anyone needing information to quickly find it. This is especially true for new administrators who aren’t familiar with everyone in the organization, and in the case of turnover when the administrator who understands his own mess is no longer there to decode it. Next, keeping the student listing clean is like keeping up with paperwork. The longer it stacks up, the longer it takes to deal with it when you finally do. There’s also a cost element, because customers pay for each unique user ID. Especially for large organizations, consistently housing inactive or duplicate listings costs money. Keeping the HLC clean from this perspective is an opportunity to demonstrate you care about cost control.

Patient care

Q: Cost efficiency, time savings, onboarding and more. These are all great reasons to heed your advice. And perhaps the most important reason to properly maintain student listings is to ensure the right people are getting the right training.

A: Absolutely. In order to develop employees who deliver the best possible care, you’ve got to ensure they are assigned and completing the right training. This is the job of our administrators. The patient and business risks are too great not to take this seriously, and the benefits, of course, are the ultimate reward: Excellent patient care and healthier communities.

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Brad Speck

Brad Speck, MSIS is HRIS and E-Learning Manager for Quorum Health. With five years of experience in learning technology and a background in the medical field as well as information systems, he is in continual pursuit of opportunities to address challenges and improve healthcare outcomes. In his time off, he can usually be found outdoors or woodworking…with a talent for recreating vintage bird houses.

Angela Novak

Angela Novak is Communications Consultant at ForYouHR and President of Corner Office Communications. She has 16 years of related experience in the healthcare and technology industries, including at HealthStream and in the managed services vertical. When not helping businesses tell their stories, she can be found cooking elaborate feasts for family and friends or driving back roads through the Tennessee countryside.

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