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Innovative Learning Tools for Today's Healthcare Industry


Thu Aug 17 2017

Innovative Learning Tools for Today's Healthcare Industry-50ff4e72bd421bed7bb15718792f00f8e1480dddca0e1ca79710f6243ddbb20e

More than ever before, today’s healthcare talent must be equipped to adapt to change. Let’s consider a few facts:

In 2017, 83.6 percent of adults in the United States had at least one contact with a healthcare professional, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. This number is projected to increase over the next few years due to several factors, which includes the growing Medicare and aging population, a well-informed patient population that seeks more outpatient and diagnostic procedures, and an increasing number of large healthcare networks in more regional areas who can conduct procedures like their urban counterparts, to name a few. This concurs with a 2012 study by the Annals of Family Medicine, which reported that the United States will require nearly 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025 to care for the rising population of the aging.


Clearly, the talent required in healthcare organizations such as physician practices must be able to hit the ground running with a high degree of technical skill to successfully and safely provide treatment to patients. What’s more, healthcare workers must be equipped with the readiness to adapt to the pressures of ongoing change because of their organization’s fluctuations to address the growing population, new compliance regulations, and of course, doing more with less as everyone does their part to address rising costs of healthcare. Talent development has a key role in preparing healthcare talent for the volatility of the current healthcare landscape through innovative ways of training delivery and flexible approaches to knowledge sharing, and integrated employee engagement programs. 

Innovative Training Delivery Methods 

Talent development in healthcare organizations must address the increasing volume of workers who must have a consistent level of knowledge across geographically dispersed areas. In addition, the time to apply knowledge and skill on the job is decreasing as the rate of new information increases. In hospital systems, where there is a large concentration of staff in large facilities, e-learning, blended learning, and traditional instructor-led approaches are still the most popular delivery models. What is innovative, though, is how the instructional design of the content is structured.

For instance, at a large hospital system in New York City, the use of dynamic animations, graphics, and audio pull learners into training related to LGBTQ and diversity within the patient population, which is a growing concern as more hospitals are seeing a patients and types of families with a variety of orientations and gender identities. Along with the importance of patient experience data, many e-learning providers are integrating brain science and emotional intelligence elements to further connect the learner to the content by making connections with the new information to previous experiences and core value emotions.

In academic physician practice organizations, mobile learning is playing a more important role. Some healthcare systems allow access to training content by way of iPads, which are also used the caregiver to document the care of the patient via the electronic medical record. Other organizations have adopted a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, which allows healthcare providers to access their required training on any personal portable device such as an iPhone with operating systems ranging from iOS to Android. This on-the-go training content might provide the learner with an overview of a leadership concept, updates on medical regulations, or simply a test to check knowledge pre- or post-training. 

Flexible Approaches to Knowledge Sharing 

With physician practices and medical clinics distributed across geographic regions, it is a scheduling and logistics challenge to have learners convene into a central training site. Additionally, once trained, it is imperative for the newly trained learners to thrive in their specific work environment and have their knowledge sustain itself post-training.


The idea of super users and “champions” is a long-established approach of providing training support in an area soon after the training is complete. These highly skilled and engaged members of the workforce know the practices of a department or unit and provide support to learners. For physician practices, super users and champions can be leaders who establish and manage channels of communication and information among its learning population. Informal knowledge sharing events can take the form of morning or afternoon huddles or “Ask the Expert” stations in the cafeteria or lounge. Through effective preparation, champions and super users can provide in-service learning events to refresh infrequently or constantly changing skills and knowledge.

For example, at an academic physician specialty practice in the northeastern United States, department super users host cross training sessions so that learners from various business departments can showcase the types of work and procedures of their department to inform employees in other areas about the work they do. This supports a more unified team approach and breaks down silos, creating a more adaptable and accountable workforce.

Want to learn more? Join me October 23-24 at the 2017 ATD Healthcare Summit for the panel session: Applicable Learning and Emerging Technologies in Today’s Healthcare Industry.

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