VGM blasts into cyberspace with new online university

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Thursday, January 31, 2002

WATERLOO, Iowa - The VGM Group's makeover as a member-services organization - and not just a buying group - took on some fresh paint last month when the 1,600-member VGM founded a new online university.

VGM is in the midst of signing up members for the university, which comprises some 30 online courses that cover 11 different job functions, including business strategy and clinical training. As an introductory rate, access to the university costs $25 a month for 15 users per location, according to Libbie Lockard, VGM's associate v.p. of education.

Lockard said the university will be a convenient and cost effective alternative for members wanting to train employees, especially when taking them away from their jobs for a day and sending them to a seminar can carry a $200-plus price tag. Unless a company in the industry sponsors the seminar, there's no guarantee that it'll even be HME specific, either, she said.

"The practical solution to this reality in the HME biz was something that could be accessed anywhere by anyone," Lockard said.

VGM University will be accessible through the member's only area of VGM's Web site, www.vgm.com, and managed by Lockard and her team.

Lockard said although employees can take any course from VGM University, and the ensuing exam, as many times as they want, a permanent record is kept. That record will include what courses have been taken (or dropped) and how well employees have done.

"It'll be a great performance management tool," Lockard said.

VGM University should have some 200 courses and five continuing education units (CEU) by June of this year, Lockard said. All the courses are written by industry experts, such as billing expert Jane Bunch, who wrote the basic billing course. Partnerships with brick-and-mortar universities that have specialties in HME are also in the works.

"We're really developing a reputation, here, of offering superlative services not normally available elsewhere," Lockard said. HME

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