ATD Blog

Disruptions in Healthcare Require Effective Online Learning in Response

Monday, January 29, 2018

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly. Luckily, online training is in the perfect position to help healthcare organizations keep up and get ahead of the curve.

As the following examples will attest, online learning can directly and effectively address two of the major changes facing healthcare-providing organizations: software training (think of all that training around EHR roll-out) and provider turnover.

Software Training

As you all know, the mandates around electronic health record (EHR) adoption and training have been in place for a while. But with healthcare system mergers, phased roll-outs, and module and workflow updates, training is an ongoing need. Many healthcare organizations are still relying on expensive instructor-led sessions and static content repositories like SharePoint to host their online resources. What if you could reduce or even replace that investment in instructor-led training (ILT) and leverage engaging online learning to handle training?

With a blended or a purely online learning approach, you can deliver role-specific training where practice opportunities are baked in. With online delivery, you can also easily scale a cohort-based course where learners can get in touch with experts, and discussion forums can be used to identify FAQs and bumps in adoption or workflow. And since providers are often spread across multiple facilities and even states, you can use technology to reach them where they are, giving the learners a place to go for just-in-time support, all at the fraction of the cost of expensive ILT.

For instance, a major healthcare system leverages a modern online platform to train all of their employees on their EHR. They have been able to reduce ILT costs by cutting the in-person training down from eight to four hours using a wraparound approach—where the role-specific required training elements are consumed online before the ILT session, and the same online community is there for ongoing support and enablement afterward. This not only boosts the sense of community and reduces ILT costs, but also reduces provider time away from patients. 


Provider Turnover

Provider turnover causes two problems: the loss of tacit knowledge from experienced providers when they leave the organization, and the need for a great onboarding program to keep them on the job in the first place. In addition, with mergers and acquisitions among healthcare systems occurring at a rapid pace these days, onboarding is a critical element in ensuring that healthcare providers are effectively connected and engaged and understand their role, tasks, and system. There are now more positions and types of nursing than ever before, and they need tailored onboarding, as well as opportunities to train nurse leaders on critical management skills in an effort to reduce nurse turnover in a competitive environment.

Luckily, online training can help with all of that.


One healthcare organization needed to reduce turnover among new hires while laying out a clear path for onboarding front office employees like clinical assistants, medical secretaries, and administrators. They revamped their onboarding program, and now new hires introduce themselves and connect with other new hires online and start to build a sense of community on day one. Then the new hires go through a curated experience where, from one single contextualized online interface, they can learn about and sign up for live training sessions and access e-learning modules and online content. The online learning experience even recognizes differences in roles and delivers training specific to the new hire’s role and responsibilities. A year and half old, this revamped onboarding program has reduced turnover in addition to creating a sense of community across roles that traditionally saw more movement among personnel.

The high turnover many healthcare organizations see also means that managers are critical. The old saying holds truth: People don’t leave organizations, they leave bad managers. Therefore, leadership and management skills are essential, but who has time to take three days away from the job for in-person training? Enter online learning that’s available anytime, anywhere, at the point of need.

Another major healthcare organization uses a blended approach to tackle this problem. It brings nurse leaders together from across the organization in person several times over the course of five months. In between those live events these nurse leaders connect with their cohorts in an online learning environment to share ideas and approaches, go deeper on communication, set goals, and receive coaching for peak performance.

Online Learning’s Critical Role

Technology can simplify life for anyone in healthcare L&D facing these modern-day challenges and more. It helps dispersed people in changing environments make connections and really learn, even amid a busy workday. Healthcare isn’t known for being an early adopter of learning technology, but the world of healthcare and, importantly, the quality of online learning, has progressed to the point where it only makes sense to use modern online learning to meet healthcare’s biggest challenges. 

About the Author

Nicole Bunselmeyer is the senior business development executive at Intrepid by VitalSource. Her nearly 20-year career in corporate learning and business development includes leading a boutique online training development company and working as learning consultant for innovative online learning experiences in a wide span of industries. Nicole has taught e-learning design and development at the University of Washington and Bellevue College. She is a graduate of Villanova University and has a master’s of education from the University of Washington.

1 Comment
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Great article!
Glad we had a chance to work together and all of the amazing people at Intrepid. Providing a 'system of engagement' and being able to generate excitement around the events leading up to ILT was a great way to kick-off the effort.
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