Association LMSes: An Interview with Jeremy Lundberg of DLC Solutions

BY Celisa Steele

Jeremy Lundberg, CEO of DLC SolutionsTime to continue our series of our series of interviews with association LMS providers we track. This time you’re getting good old text. I interviewed, via Skype, Jeremy Lundberg, the CEO of DLC Solutions, which offers the EthosCE learning management system. Unfortunately the audio has a few hiccups, so I’m posting instead the transcript of the interview.

Jeremy talks to four topics:

  1. Who is DLC Solutions, and what does the company do?
  2. What differentiates DLC Solutions from other LMS companies working in the association space?
  3. What are the unique demands in delivering continuing education in the healthcare space?
  4. What’s coming down the pike for learning in the relatively near term?

Like other of our interviewees, Jeremy sees mobile as the next big thing—or things because, really, a mobile strategy for an organization might mean many different things. Jeremy says associations need to understand the different devices and how they can be used as effective learning tools, and then determine how they can interface efficiently with an LMS—whether for registration and enrollment, course delivery, claiming credit, evaluations and assessments, or all of the above


Interview with Jeremy Lundberg, CEO of DLC Solutions

CS: I’m Celisa Steele, managing director at Tagoras. I’m joined today via Skype by Jeremy Lundberg, CEO of DLC Solutions. Hi, Jeremy.

JL: Hi. How are you doing?

CS: Good, thank you.

JL: Thank you for having me.

CS: I want to start off by asking, who is DLC Solutions? What do you do?

JL: DLC Solutions is an award-winning technology firm that specializes specifically in deploying enterprise-level association learning management systems. We were founded in 2001 and partner with major mid- to large-size associations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (which I think has about 110,000 members). We focus on helping them automate and streamline their continuing education enterprises. Through our EthosCE learning management system, we’re able to provide them complete end-to-end strategic planning, development, deployment, and support services.

CS: And how do you differentiate yourself from the other companies that work in the LMS space providing learning management systems and similar offerings?

JL: That’s a great question. We go beyond just focusing on the course delivery, which we believe should be a fundamental part of any learning management system. We’ve spent a lot of time developing EthosCE so that it will provide a member or student with an intuitive learning environment.

We specialize in the automation and streamlining of key back office administrative functions. For example, we worked with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After helping them with strategic planning and the mapping of their processes, we then moved them over to Ethos and streamlined those processes, enabling them to take a six-month backlog in data entry and move that to real-time transcript CE reporting. That saved them an enormous amount of time and money. They no longer had to hire temps and additional staff to do the data entry. It also gave them more time to spend on innovation.

We’re also flexible. We offer both a aoftware-as-a-service model along with an open source version to support the different needs of different organizations. Some folks have no desire to host or do not have a high degree of customization requirements. The SaaS model fits in there. Others want to host the system on their own network and have the ability to do heavy customization or integration. We’re built off of the popular Drupal framework which provides a lot of flexibility.

We also do not charge licensing fees per user or per creator. We place no restrictions on the number of courses and certificates. That frees up options and their financial resources so they can focus on innovation.

Lastly, we really focus on improving the bottom line. Using Ethos, one client of ours, an insurance company, was able to achieve a 40 percent reduction in support calls from their members. Another client experienced a 300 percent increase in production time, leaving more time available for creating new courses. Lastly, another great example from our association clients is one had a 250 percent increase in their completion rates across activities. So, it’s not enough just to get people to register, but through the EthosCE LMS, they were able get that pulled through from registration to completion.

One of the overall goals here is to enable associations to have a greater focus on their member services and to have more time to focus on those areas and secure access to their member data. Also having their custom brand look and feel. And then overall, an intuitive user interface for both the learner member as well as the administrators who are in the system every day.

CS: Those statistics really help show what an LMS can mean in terms of the day-in-and-day-out work for a lot of these associations.

I know that you do a lot of work with medical organizations and associations and CME. Can you talk a little bit about what you see as unique in delivering continuing education in the healthcare space?

JL: Absolutely. Our experience has been that delivery of CME to education and healthcare professionals is probably one of the most highly regulated industries out there by both government regulatory agencies and also organizations like the American Medical Association. There’s a constantly changing regulatory environment that requires more documentation.

At the same time, we’re seeing significant decreases in funding from both the federal government and also commercial entities who fund continuing medical education. So, associations are being required to do more with less. I think a great example here is a program activity that you have to create for every accredited CME activity that you have done in the course of a year, and it has to include every person that went through the program, the credits that were earned, when it was taken. Then it needs to be submitted to ACCME, which is the accreditation body.

When this was done manually by associations, it meant pulling together spreadsheets and paper sign-in sheets. This required hundreds of man-hours, and it would take weeks, if not months, to compile. But with EthosCE—we are really strong advocates of using Web standards—and so we implemented the ACCME PARS Web standard. Now what used to take weeks and months to compile our association clients can generate with one mouse click. Even though they’re being asked to do more with less, we’re giving them the tools to automate and speed that process so they can still continue to innovate.

And I think really that when you look at, particularly in healthcare is that when you are choosing an LMS partner, you really need to have deep expertise and understanding not just of technology, and LMS technology—obviously that’s critical—but also the implication of accreditation and the financial forces that are not going to be the same from healthcare versus legal versus financial. Those all have to have their own unique areas. You have to have that understanding of accreditation rules and also financial forces if you want to be successful and meet the delivery of continuing medical education in the 21st century.

CS: I just have one last question. What do you think may be coming down the pike for learning in the next couple of years? You can talk technology or beyond technology. You can talk healthcare or beyond healthcare. What do you see as the next big trend?

JL: Absolutely. It will be mobile. There will continue to be a more intense emphasis on not just creating mobile-friendly learning environments and experiences, but working to understand how to leverage all of the different devices in a unique way and apply them to learners in an appropriate way.

Don’t try to deliver a 45-minute high-def video when the vast majority of your folks are going to be using an iPhone. Understand those different devices and how they can be used as effective learning tools. And then ultimately, how are they going to interface efficiently with your learning management system? Is it just going to be for registration? Is it going to be about course delivery? Is it going to be also used for assessments and evaluations? All of those different variables are being explored and determined now.

Lastly, I think that it’s really about setting and developing and determining what are effective mobile-learning models. This is obviously a relatively new area within e-learning, at least in terms of the capabilities now on mobile devices. It’s just fascinating and wonderful to see the advances in innovation around mobile technology. I think also the implications of social learning through social media, and how that intertwines and can be leveraged through mobile devices and then ultimately pulled together to develop communities of practice within the Ethos learning management system.

All of this is stuff that we are actively pursuing with Ethos and with our clients. I know that my competitors and colleagues are, as well. It’s just a really exciting time to be in the e-learning space right now.

CS: It is an exciting time.

I’d like to thank you for taking some of your time away from clients and your work with on Ethos to talk to me. I really appreciate it, Jeremy.

JL: Thank you so much.

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