Healthcare E-Learning: Best Practices and Ideas for 2020
Dr. Ruth Heaton is a general practitioner who, after years of being on her own, recently affiliated with a large hospital system in the area. She’s happiest when she’s seeing patients, but she finds she’s spending more time than ever sitting through required compliance training that takes her out of her office for half or full days at a time.
Camden Ziang is a nurse anesthetist. His supervisor has suggested some soft skills training to help him manage stress better. He’s struggling to find the time, and this is making his stress worse.
Preet Basha is a pharmacy technician who is required to complete 150 hours of job-based training each year. He’s also interested in being a part of his hospital’s leadership development program, which requires him to attend four weeklong training sessions over the next two years. He’s not sure he can handle the required training plus the leadership program.
Considering the needs of these three healthcare professionals, do you want to ask, what if there’s a better way? What if learning could be convenient and didn’t have to take hours at a time or days away from patients? What if those in healthcare could have training at their fingertips? What if training could target a specific skill they need in the moment or scenario they expect to encounter in their week?
The good news is, learning can be all of these things, and it can happen with the help of healthcare e-learning.
We’re going to explore healthcare e-learning through the following points:
- Why E-Learning is Great for Medical Education
- Types of Learning and Instructional Design in Healthcare E-Learning
- Healthcare E-Learning: 8 Best Practices
- Examples of E-Learning in Healthcare
Why E-Learning is Great for Medical Education
The positive impact of e-learning in medical education is only going to increase in the coming years. E-learning gives those who design training specific control over the content being presented to healthcare professionals. Gone are the days of wondering if the instructor is covering all of the required material. With healthcare e-learning, stakeholders will know without a doubt what is in a course.
Imagine having a library of content at the fingertips of those who need it when they need it. Medical professionals can tailor their experiences to meet their personal learning objectives. In this library, healthcare professionals could have instant access to courses like:
- Navigating the ChartPro: New Features for Capturing Patient Data
- Working with Patients with Autism: A Decision Making Scenario
- HIPAA Update: Know Your Role
- Put Your Mask on First: Practicing Self-Care as a Healthcare Professional
And the list goes on.
The benefits of e-learning
Allows for flexibility with the demanding schedules of healthcare professionals.
The life of a healthcare professional is busy, stressful, and unpredictable with long shifts and on-call times. With e-learning, healthcare personnel aren’t tied down to learning at a certain time. E-learning offers flexibility which makes it easier for those in healthcare professions to receive the training they need when it fits their schedules.
Ensures consistency and standardization with content.
At Artisan E-Learning, we like to say, “We don’t do boring!” Instead, we build courses that engage adult learners by tapping into their curiosity, their problem-solving skills, and their desire to grow professionally. And the beauty of e-learning is that we’re assured everyone gets the same content delivered in the same way. Every word is vetted and every image is carefully chosen. You no longer have to worry if your trainers are teaching the same thing enterprise-wide.
Scalable for any number of people.
Let’s think again about content that needs to be consistent and standardized across your learners. You may have excellent content, but how quickly can you get that content out to all of the learners who need it? Instructor-led training presents a challenge. Whether your instructor is live or virtual, you are limited by their schedule and the number of learners you can effectively teach in this model.
Compare that with e-learning. Once built, e-learning can be deployed to any number of learners when they need it. When you think about healthcare e-learning, this might mean:
- Product training for surgeons across many countries.
- Onboarding for a hospital system with both general and role-based content.
- Scenario-based compliance training where learners experience the impact of their decisions.
Gives learners ongoing access to the resources and information.
How many times have you been watching something and had to rewind to see a particular scene again? The same thing can happen during training. Learners may want to listen to something again to make sure they fully understand what was being said. In face-to-face learning situations, this is impossible without interrupting the instructor. With e-learning, the healthcare professional can replay a screen, take time to study a question before answering, or even do the entire course over again to make sure they’re understanding the material correctly.
Promotes collaboration if learners are spread out geographically.
Sharing knowledge can be a benefit in any field but especially in the world of healthcare. Collaborating and sharing experiences can be just as valuable and important as the training itself. With healthcare e-learning, healthcare professionals can complete the training and also be given a chance to discuss topics with others in their field who they aren’t geographically close to.
Use cases for healthcare e-learning
- Training on a tool or procedure: Do Phlebotomy students need to learn how to use a new machine in the lab? What better way to get acclimated to the inner workings of it than to be able to practice on a computer or tablet?
- Standardizing best practices in an organization: Healthcare is full of split-second decision making. One way to practice this skill is by having an e-learning course that could simulate situations like what to do when a patient comes into the Emergency Department and needs to be evaluated in triage.
- Simulating decision-making scenarios: Given the right information, e-learning is an excellent tool for decision-making scenarios. From medical decision making to practicing active listening with patients, e-learning offers a safe space to explore decisions and consequences.
- Practicing communication techniques: An HR department at a healthcare clinic might even benefit by presenting new office hires with a course that outlines best practices of the organization for tasks like answering questions, scheduling appointments, and proper use of computer software for record-keeping.
- Educating practitioners on common illnesses: A medical association built courses on the treatment of Obesity and Diabetes to help its members learn history and treatment methods that they can take back to their practices.
Types of Learning and Instructional Design in Healthcare E-Learning
People who work in healthcare, as providers, or even in a billing office, need to have the ability to easily remember and use medical terminology during day-to-day duties. What better way to practice these terms than an e-learning course! Individuals can use a course to practice Latin roots of words, abbreviations for medical terms, or uses for various medications.
Our brains often remember things better when we associate a word with an image. An image associated with a word in an e-learning course could act as a cue later when the learner is trying to recall the information. Using a mobile device to practice these terms eliminates the need to carry around flashcards or other sorts of materials to “quiz on the go.” All a person needs is a mobile device and studying can be done anywhere. Consider this sample for learning terminology.
Being a healthcare professional requires the ability to make life or death decisions, sometimes within minutes or seconds. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to practice these decision-making skills in a safe, non-threatening way? There is. Think of how useful it could be to develop a healthcare e-learning course that uses case-based learning where professionals and those studying to become professionals can practice assessing a patient in situations such as an Emergency Department. Feedback can be given instantly. The learner will instantly see the ramifications of their choices--good or bad.
Empathy, Listening, Communication
It’s easy to put a focus on tasks and decision-making when you’re thinking of situations in the medical field. These are the things that help save lives and make people better when they’re sick. But what about those soft skills like listening and communication that can be just as important to the patient?
You’ve certainly heard the term “bedside manner” when it comes to medical personnel. We don’t often think of interpersonal skills as something that can be taught, but there really isn’t such a thing as an unteachable topic. Presenting information to the learners and then giving them a chance to instantly implement what they’ve learned is the perfect recipe for an e-learning course. There’s an entire field of study dedicated to narrative medicine. Why not build healthcare e-learning courses to practice those skills?
Healthcare E-Learning: 8 Best Practices
Enhance your courses with microlearning
In case you’re not familiar with the term “microlearning,” it is focused course content that is usually short and has a single learning outcome. Microlearning can be especially useful in healthcare e-learning when learners are practicing a focused skill because it can offer repetition of that skill.
Let’s say there is a new machine in the radiology department. It’s more advanced and unlike anything that radiology techs have previously used. What would be more time-efficient? Calling them all together to have live in-person training on how to use the machine? Probably not. This would be a great time to use microlearning to teach a skill. In a fraction of the time, you could train even more people at once than you could by bringing them together for instructor-led training.
Microlearning is also an excellent choice for practice sessions or booster material. For example, a hospital built a course to help healthcare providers support one another when in crisis. They trained a cadre of volunteers who might have weeks or months pass until they had an opportunity to use the learning. We built them a quick 10-minute booster course to remind them of the key points designed for them to take moments before helping the colleague in crisis.
Consider your audience’s needs
You want to make sure that the course you create meets any learners’ specific needs. For instance, some courses may need to be 508 accessible. Others might need to be more reliant on visual cues. Make sure that the course is designed for the appropriate learners. Needs can run the gamut. Consider things like:
- When will learners take the course? Before a shift? On a break?
- Where will learners take the course? At a shared workstation? In a quiet conference room? At their desk? Will they be able to hear audio?
- What device are they using? Computer? Tablet? Smartphone?
- How much time do they have?
- How quickly will they implement the learning? Is this just-in-time training? Or annual compliance?
Measure engagement regularly
How can you make sure learners are retaining the content in your course? One way is to set performance objectives. During the course, make sure content is linking back to these goals. Learners can be presented with knowledge checks throughout the course and also at the end with a more formal assessment to reinforce the objectives given at the beginning of the course.
For healthcare e-learning, consider measuring success with the course and enjoyment of the course. Healthcare workers have unique needs. Measuring whether or not they’re engaged is as important as whether they can pass the test.
Remember who your audience is
Keep in mind who your learner is going to be. Are you designing for medical professionals like doctors and nurses who already are familiar with certain terminology? If so, you don’t want to spend too much time boring them with information that they already know. If the target audience is medical office staff, such as billing or insurance, more background information may be necessary. In addition to considering roles, also think about experience level.
Prioritize evergreen content
Just as evergreen trees don’t lose their leaves, you want to make sure your content never loses relevance for the learners you’re trying to reach. E-learning is an investment. You want to capitalize on that investment for as long as you can. Your content needs to connect with healthcare professionals by using real-world examples that make an impact not only now, but far into the future.
Plan for maintenance and updates
In the early planning stages of a course, it’s easy to get excited thinking about how the budget will be used to get it finished and into the hands of the learners. But, it’s important to think long-term. What happens if information in the course needs to be updated within the next year? Where will that money come from?
If you know your course will change periodically, it’s easier to budget for maintenance and updates at the start when you’re trying to allocate resources than panic later when updates might be necessary but it’s not in the budget. You’ve spent a lot of time and energy on a great course. Make sure it can be used for as long as possible!
Measure impact on patient care
A downside to traditional instructor-led training is that it pulls healthcare professionals away from the very thing they should be most passionate about--the patients! With e-learning, these same professionals can take courses without as much impact on patient care. By eliminating travel and specified training schedules, healthcare professionals are better able to meet the needs of their patients. That said, be sure to give them the time they need to learn. Patients will benefit from being able to see their healthcare professional without interruption and will also benefit from the knowledge gained from the e-learning experience.
Plan for robust supporting material
One caveat in healthcare training is that supporting documentation has to be a priority. Sources need to be cited thoroughly and often in case a learner wants to dig deeper and find out more information on the subject. Healthcare e-learning can be an easy fix. If resources or references are built right into the course, learners can literally have this information at their fingertips. It can also make the course more valid, relevant, or real to them.
Examples of E-Learning in Healthcare
It’s easy to see all of the different ways e-learning in medical education can benefit healthcare professionals. Experiences can be tailored to medical professionals and give them instant access to information that they need in the workplace.
Take some time to consider how you might be able to incorporate e-learning into your healthcare training needs. Artisan E-Learning is here to work with you to create custom e-learning content for your medical or healthcare training needs.
For more information about the e-learning creation process, please visit the following resources:
- Artisan Medical Demo
- E-Learning Content Development Companies & Strategy Partners
- A Video-Based Immersive E-Learning Course—A Perfect Client Solution