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ATD Blog

4 Considerations for Improving Healthcare Training and Delivery

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

In healthcare, job proficiency can have a direct impact on patient experience, safety, and outcomes. From customer service to the CMO, the ability to collect and correctly interpret patient information is critical to making good decisions about next steps.

While the specific training topics will vary based on position, department, and so on, there are some basic training considerations that are constant. For example, one of the first and most important questions for any trainer is, “Where do I start?” If you don’t know what competencies individuals and teams already have, you can’t address their training needs effectively.

First Consideration: Diagnosing Comprehension and Skills Gaps

No matter how far along you are in developing new training programs—or any ongoing training, for that matter—each person taking the course brings a different set of skills and competencies. A one-size-fits-all approach to training sometimes doesn’t fit anyone, and resulting proficiency gains (or lack thereof) can have significant consequences in healthcare.

For instance, one of Qstream’s customers is developing a training for clinical operations teams supporting clinical trials. In general, these teams are composed of highly skilled professionals who don’t have a lot of time for training. At the same time, the work of clinical trials is governed by an ever-changing stream of regulatory requirements and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that must be adhered to, so understanding individual and team proficiencies is critical to success.

To make training as effective as possible, our customer started by identifying which skills and knowledge had the biggest impact on their clinical trials work, and created some quick, scenario-based training to diagnose gaps in those areas. The resulting data identified a number of SOPs that weren’t followed to the letter and that often had a costly downstream effect. Improving comprehension and competencies in these areas was clearly the place to start.

Second Consideration: Improving Recall With Regular Reinforcement

You’re likely familiar with the forgetting curve, a proven concept that describes the dramatic drop-off in knowledge retention over time. Studies have shown that in as little as 30 days, 79 percent of knowledge is forgotten. Interval reinforcement is a proven way to combat the forgetting curve.

We have many customers who deliver medical education programs for doctors and nurses designed to reinforce critical thinking for diagnosis. This training often includes a patient case presented with test results, patient history, and behavior and visual cues. Using short, purpose-built challenges, our customers are seeing long-term proficiency improvements in critical areas of patient safety, including prescription medication adherence, sepsis prevention, and reduction in costs for HIPAA and Joint Commission compliance.


Third Consideration: Targeted Coaching for Maximum Impact With Minimal Effort

Coaching can be one of the most effective ways to improve job performance and talent development, but it is typically limited by time. As such, we need to help our managers make time for coaching and get the most impact from their coaching.

In addition to understanding the underlying motivators for each person, it’s imperative that coaches have an understanding of individual competencies and behaviors that can be changed for optimum impact. Healthcare professionals are focused on patients, not thinking about who and what needs coaching on their teams.

As trainers, we need to make it easy for our coaches by arming them with rich data that takes into account the individualized knowledge, skills, and behaviors of their team. Armed with this information, we can coach our coaches with strategies for quick and effective initiatives that aren’t disruptive to the workday. In many cases, just minutes of well-spent time can have a big impact.

Fourth Consideration: Ongoing Action and Effort

Learning does not end when the course is over or the test is taken. This is especially true for healthcare professionals, as the only constant is change—change in protocol, treatments, regulations; change from consolidation and from the federal, state, and local levels; and so on.


One of our pharma customers has thousands of sales reps around the world and hundreds of drug products to sell. For these sales reps, it’s critically important that the FDA-approved application of the drug is well understood, and that reps don’t vary from a drug’s intended use when selling. As a trainer, you can appreciate this is a big responsibility with very real consequences for the business.

It’s also a great example of the approach described in this post. With thousands of reps and hundreds of drugs, knowing where to start is difficult. New hires and veterans have completely different training needs. Diagnosing the gaps makes it easier to deliver precision learning that is both respectful of time and effective.

Recall is critical in this example. Consistent recall is built using reinforcement techniques over time. Targeted coaching can also help streamline training efforts by addressing the most impactful challenges quickly and reinforcing the knowledge and behavior in an ongoing manner.

It all adds up to a continuous training effort, strategically using a variety of proven learning techniques so healthcare organizations can maximize learning in an industry that places a premium on training quickly, effectively, and with lasting impact.

About the Author

As CEO of Qstream, Rich Lanchantin is responsible for running all facets of the business. He brings a proven management track record and more than 30 years of experience driving customer success and sales growth in the life sciences and software industries.

Prior to joining Qstream, Rich was senior director of global sales, consulting, and customer success for Abbott Diagnostics’ Informatics division, with responsibility for all commercial sales and services worldwide. Prior to that he served as global director of consulting and customer success with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Earlier career tenure includes sales leadership positions at Rational Software and Lotus Development, now part of IBM.

Rich holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MS from the University at Albany, SUNY.

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