Mercy Medical Center


Adopting HeartCode BLS for resuscitation training resulted in the following benefits for Mercy Medical Center:

  • Saved considerable amounts of time, cutting training time in half for individual BLS certifications. Where live training averaged 2.5 hours per person; HeartCode took approximately an hour and fifteen minutes.
  • Participants reported a 95% satisfaction rating for the HeartCode BLS training experience—an improvement over previous learner survey results.
  • Improved system for tracking certifications and assigning training, gaining efficiencies in terms of administration time and scheduling, as well as tracking for accreditation purposes.
  • Reduced cost for BLS training, to approximately half of what was spent previously on coach hours.


Mercy Medical Center consists of two facilities, Mercy Medical Center Dubuque and Mercy Medical Center Dyersville, a small critical access hospital 25 miles west of Dubuque. The organization is a Magnet-designated hospital, testifying to its commitment to providing healthcare excellence. Of 1,350 staff members, 800 need BLS certification renewal on a biannual basis. Prior to adopting HeartCode BLS, Mercy Medical had the typical problems associated with live BLS classes—significant no-shows for scheduled sessions, regardless of reminders; room reservations that had to be made for every class; never enough classes or instructors to meet training needs, especially last minute; and lots of background work was always required, including schedules, CTC requirements, reminders, supplies, etc.


Mercy Medical transitioned to HeartCode BLS and chose to kick off the change by creating some excitement. Implementation was key to the success of the program, and that meant building up interest, setting a positive tone, and showing as many staff as possible how user-friendly the system would be. Several rounds of e-mail reminders were sent reminding staff of their open house, with prizes and refreshments. Not only did they have information in employee newsletters, but they also sponsored a contest to name the adult and infant manikins. There was a huge turnout for the new program’s launch.

Despite a space issue until this program got a permanent home, Mercy Medical developed a plan of action to meet their certification needs. For Year 1, they started certifying people primarily by departments, starting with assignments for those who were due first. During the first six months, they had coaching sessions available almost every day. After that coaching sessions were cut down to only a half day per week. They started the current year assigning people month by month. In addition, anybody wanting to certify early was invited. By mid-year administration added the assignments for everybody who was due before the end of the year. The following year the team created an automatic repeating assignment and put a stop date on the old BLS assignment. Over time, fewer and fewer people had trouble passing.


After 2,200 HeartCode BLS completions, the time savings were impressive. Now, most students average 45 minutes for the online (cognitive) portion and need no more than 30 minutes for Hands-On Sessions with the Voice-Assisted Manikins (VAMs). This should decrease even further as people recertify on the system. The time commitment for administration is significantly lower; there are no more schedules to anguish over, no more searching for replacement instructors, and minimal necessity of reminding people either to instruct or attend. As further savings, paid instructor hours have dropped to about half of what they were previously. Participant evaluations of the online portion tallied via HealthStream were very positive. Verbal surveys of participants about using the VAMs also show that people generally find it to be a very good experience.

While a few miss the old means of instruction, most agree they learn more with HeartCode. In terms of performance, they have found that some first timers need a little extra coaching to learn techniques, but most have zipped right through it. In the Perioperative area, once a few people completed the process, the staff who were "veterans" helped other staff very successfully—they were soon able to certify 102 people in less than a month. Many actually have done much better than ever before.

According to Mary Kay Egan, RN, BSN, House-wide Instructor; Mercy Medical Center, “Our vice president of Patient Care Services did a thumbs up/thumbs down survey when she met with each of her departments at staff meetings earlier this year. Overwhelmingly, the staff gave the program a thumbs up.”

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