Why Learning Matters: Healthcare
The healthcare industry is dynamic and fast-paced. Employees in administrative and care-based roles must constantly update their skills and knowledge to stay compliant with regulations and deliver the highest quality of care and service.
As a healthcare organization, one way to stay on top of the rapidly evolving healthcare market is to consider learning and workforce productivity as part of the same initiative. Prioritizing learning offers staff members the opportunity to keep their knowledge current, learn new skills to grow in their careers, and provide the best care possible.
In this article, we’ll look at why continuous learning matters so much for the healthcare industry, the benefits your healthcare organization will see from a learning program, and what to look for in a learning management solution.
Why The Healthcare Industry Needs To Focus On Continuous Learning
Regulatory compliance is a key reason for healthcare organizations to focus on continuous learning. Consider the example of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Since 1996, HIPAA has had several major additions, such as the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, Breach Notification Rule, and the Omnibus Final Rule. Healthcare providers have needed to provide extensive training to keep up with these changes, and will continue to do so. And that’s just for one regulatory requirement.
Beyond compliance is the logistical side of running an effective healthcare organization. A 2021 report from the American Hospital Association noted key trends that everyone will have to grapple with. That includes how supply chains are managed, how software and automation will impact key processes, and how diversity initiatives will impact patient care. These will require ongoing training for existing employees, as well new ones just entering the field.
Another major shift in the industry will come from the continued rise of telehealth. According to a study conducted on behalf of Optum, 93 percent of healthcare providers will continue to offer telehealth even after COVID-19 restrictions wind down. Ensuring that administrators, nurses, and doctors have the skills to provide a high level of care.
Benefits Of A Learning Program In Healthcare
With all of the changes the healthcare industry is experiencing, a learning program that gives employees consistent training can be a major advantage. Here are some of the most important benefits of a learning program.
Keep Knowledge Up-to-Date
Regulatory developments are common drivers of healthcare change. It’s an ever-evolving field of practice due to continuous advances in medicine, expanded sources of evidence and new treatment options as well as changing governmental regulations and models of care. Not to mention, there are several major regulatory concerns and annual requirements to manage for things like blood borne pathogens and HIPAA – just to name a few.
Ensuring staff is compliant with basic license requirements is the first step to keeping up with regulatory needs. But another key area of focus is continuous training specific to your hospital to ensure greater quality of care and patient satisfaction.
That means that in addition to hard skills, everyone who interacts with patients should learn soft skills around cultural sensitivity, diversity initiatives, and other factors beyond providing care.
When administrative and care staff stays compliant and learns to use new methods and technology, hospitals benefit from lowered costs as well as increased quality. The right continuing education introduces innovation to healthcare professionals who then utilize that knowledge in practice.
Provide Better Care for Patients
One primary benefit of professional development in healthcare is the improvement of patient care. The more your staff learns, the more they can contribute to better patient outcomes. And that’s true no matter what their role is within the healthcare system.
When staff members understand the best ways to care for their patients and are empowered to make decisions about their work based on that knowledge, they begin to see the purpose for their work. A sense of purpose and achievement leads to fulfillment in their jobs and that fuels employee retention.
Additionally, in a healthcare setting, you have teams of people who need to act quickly and collaboratively in unpredictable situations. To provide the best level of patient care in those conditions requires staff to be completely up to speed on good care protocols at all times. Each member of the team needs to be an active learner to be an impactful team member.
Developing a competent workforce skilled to provide excellent care to your patients begins when the employee first starts working. Investing in onboarding is just the start. Providing convenient, in-the-moment access to key knowledge can help staff keep their skills sharp and respond to what’s happening in the moment, while continuing to build a foundation of knowledge.
Stay Licensed and Certified
For medical professionals, staying licensed and certified means engaging in Continuing Education credits. In fact, most healthcare organizations and boards require ongoing education for eligibility to work.
Being healthcare is an ever-evolving field, it’s critical for staff members to be engaged with their Continuing Education to stay relevant and current with the industry’s progression.
But participating in Continuing Education isn’t the hard part. The difficulty comes in tracking the completion of requirements to ensure compliance. Keeping track of requirements is complicated and varies by region, state, and role.
Members of a hospital staff are constantly audited for Continuing Education compliance by a variety of organizations. If accurate and current records are not kept, the audit process can take a full day of staff time to complete. If there is low compliance, the hospital can be charged steep fines, and non-compliant staff members often cannot work until they are fully compliant. If ignored, license compliance can have serious repercussions for not only the medical professional but the hospital in which they work as well.
Meet Compliance Requirements
As a leader in healthcare, you understand that part of meeting regulatory compliance means demonstrating that your staff possesses up-to-date clinical skills. But it’s not enough for the staff to have the right skills to be compliant. You also need to document those skills. Having the most skilled staff means nothing from a regulatory standpoint if it’s not appropriately documented.
In the past, Continuing Education and certification were either self-reported or reported by managers. And often, the learning materials were located across several locations, which made it difficult for healthcare professionals to stay on top of their compliance requirements. It was easy to overlook deadlines and quickly fall into non-compliance.
Fortunately, learning management systems (LMS) have resolved those issues by centralizing learning materials, tracking progress, proactively reminding staff of looming deadlines and ensuring all staff members – whether they are new hires or veterans – receive the same level of education. A quality LMS also centralizes all of compliance management into one place, streamlining the tools needed to manage the many different requirements as well as creating trackable methods to ensure all staff members are aware of their mandatory learning.
Observation skills checklists are also often incorporated into an LMS, which allows healthcare leadership to identify the staff members who need some extra help. As a healthcare leader with this level of oversight, you can easily pinpoint the staff members who need extra training. You can also rely on your LMS to assess staff performance and compliance in real-time. As a healthcare leader, you can rest easy knowing you are audit ready at any time by utilizing the many different features within your LMS.
What To Look For In A Learning Management System for Healthcare
Today, healthcare learning programs need to blend classroom-style learning with on the job training facilitated by an LMS. And an effective LMS allows you to deliver those trainings to staff members anywhere in the world.
Here are some key things to look for in an LMS for healthcare organizations:
Easy Administration for Certifications
Fortunately, learning management systems (LMS) have resolved those issues by centralizing learning materials, tracking progress, proactively reminding staff of looming deadlines and ensuring all staff members – whether they are new hires or veterans – receive the same level of education.
A quality LMS also centralizes all certification management into one place, streamlining the tools needed to manage the many different requirements as well as creating trackable methods to ensure all staff members are aware of their mandatory learning.
You should be able to rely on your LMS to assess staff performance and compliance in real-time. In the event of a lawsuit due to an accident or mishandling of patient data, it’s important to know you are audit ready at any time by being able to prove that staff were properly trained on key procedures.
As more and more health records are going digital, healthcare organizations need to ensure their IT teams and anyone who handles the data is certified to do so. One of the most in-demand certifications is from Epic.
According to Indeed, Epic certifications are offered by Epic, a healthcare software company that specializes in creating and implementing software programs for hospitals, care clinics and other types of healthcare facilities.
The certification is for IT professionals specializing in healthcare and work in areas like patient experience, telehealth, specialties and ancillaries, etc.. These professionals seek to improve the efficiency of health organizations by managing data collection and organization, while enhancing the care patients can receive.
Getting an Epic certification is often challenging, and they can only be accessed through certified learning providers. Make sure your LMS offers Epic certified content so you can build an IT that can handle the challenges of the industry’s digitization.
Healthcare is one of the most dynamic industries, with a never-ending torrent of regulatory changes, digital transformation, and new scientific knowledge that pushes the field forward. The only way to keep up is to create a culture of lifelong learning among your staff, and give them the tools they need to learn effectively and efficiently.