As I am writing this blog post, we are busily preparing to make the major announcement that the Hospice Education Network (HEN) has been acquired by Relias Learning. Our press releases, social media tweets and posts, website announcements and phone calls describe the importance of and the excitement about this major development in HEN's history. I would like to take a few moments to step back and reflect on HEN, what it has meant to me and to so many others, and our hopes for the future of "this little company that could" and that "did."
Beyond all the "corporate speak" about how great this acquisition is for our current customers (it is) and for increasing access to high quality online education for hospice and palliative care practitioners (it will), I am experiencing this whole process with the intense pride a parent must feel watching her child who has done well, head off into the big world to accomplish even greater things. As you roll your eyes at that last sentence, I ask for your indulgence.
I have loved HEN.
- I loved the idea of it when we started it back in 2007.
- I loved the ways Weatherbee Resources and HEN have worked, and will continue to work together.
- I loved the nickname/acronym for the Hospice Education Network (HEN) and how hospices would tell us their staff have been "watching their HENs."
- I loved our initial mantra "the best content using the best technology at the best prices" and that it was our mission and vision that drove all that we did and the decisions that we made.
- I loved that our business model was based on "open access" to education and we wanted to price HEN so that large and small hospices could afford it for ALL their staff and volunteers.
- I loved that the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) chose HEN as their online partner and enhanced the quality of the HEN library with their stellar curricula.
- I loved it when I took my Dad to a VA hospital to have his hearing aids adjusted and he proudly asked the nurse if she had watched online courses by HEN that his daughter provided (through a wonderful grant with ELNEC).
- I loved that using rich media streaming technology we could film a course in the morning and have it available to subscribers in the afternoon.
- I loved that we could figure out how to go with Jamey Boudreaux to the Louisiana State Prison at Angola and spend a week filming a conference for inmates who were hospice volunteers.
- I loved that we could make DVDs of our courses so a hospice in Africa would not have to go to an Internet cafe to take HEN courses.
- I loved it when HEN won or was a finalist for Sonic Foundry's Rich Media Impact Awards (RMIA) in 2009 and 2012 for Healthcare, Global Reach and Prolific Use.
- I loved when I read the statistic a few years ago that in 2011 alone we had provided more than 2714 days of HEN courses (65,134 hours) which is 7.43 years (!) and that 24,073 of those hours (or 2.75 years) were for continuing education.
As they say - what's not to love? I could go on and on and perhaps I have, well beyond the point of proper blog etiquette. However, this is a big moment for me and for my "kid" HEN. I am reminded that it does indeed take a village to raise a child and so it is for growing a company. I am so deeply grateful for HEN's village and cannot end this post without offering some special thanks:
- To my dear colleague, serial entrepreneur and initial HEN Partner - the late Tom Williams
- Joy Barry, co-owner of Weatherbee and HEN with me through all these years
- Sally Okun, original co-owner and first CEO of HEN
- Morie Burke, the first HEN Administrator who has masterfully participated in all phases of its development
- Jeremy Rowan, videographer extraordinaire and general all purpose IT guy who can figure out everything (and did)
- Our technology partners Randy Weisheit and Tom Theimer from Focus55 who grew with us and never once let HEN crash
- Andrew Martin who loved HEN so much when he worked in a hospice that utilized HEN he wanted to work with us to help "spread the word"
- Sheila Flynn, the second CEO of HEN, under whose leadership new partnerships were established
- All the partners from state hospice associations who worked with us during the early years to promote HEN
- Pam Malloy, Betty Ferrell, and colleagues at ELNEC who continue to contribute amazing content to HEN
- All the hospice and palliative care experts who have contributed courses to HEN over the years to help us make good on our promise of "best content"
- Terri Maxwell and Joy Berger who helped take the quality of HEN programming to the next level and solidify our national accreditations and reputation
- Kathy Brandt working with us to enhance HEN's social media presence and marketing efforts
- Yuval Bar, Customer Support Specialist who solved problems with generosity and finesse
- Pauline Judge, the HEN Administrator for the past five years who seemed to run everything at HEN singlehandedly and can do everything
- And finally, our hundreds of subscribers over the years who kept coming back for more and challenging us to be the best we could be.
As HEN moves into its future, I have every confidence that it has a sturdy foundation and has landed in the next right place with the next right village. What we wanted most for HEN and what I firmly believe its new owners want too, is to make a difference in the quality of care provided to patients and their loved ones at the end of life.
Please join me in celebrating HEN and wishing it all the best as it reaches new heights with Relias Learning.
Posted by: Heather P Wilson, PhD, Founder and CEO, Weatherbee Resources. Founder and Former CEO of HEN