Let’s face it — the speed of healthcare IT innovation makes it feel virtually impossible to keep hospital teams up-to-date. Ensuring that your team understands and utilizes the latest technology, stays up on emerging trends within healthcare IT, and still remain fully HIPAA compliant is an extraordinary undertaking for even the most effective leaders — but it’s not impossible. Those that manage to do all of the above have one important thing in common: an exceptional healthcare IT training strategy. Savvy leaders in healthcare settings understand that keeping pace with HIT innovation is synonymous with saving lives — and that even the most robust healthcare IT systems are only as effective as the physicians and hospital administrators that use them. To get out ahead in 2019, it’s not enough to simply have a training strategy — you need a strategy that addresses the biggest challenges in HIT training today. These are just some of the roadblocks healthcare leadership faces, and how to overcome each.
#1: Finding Reliable Trainers
Great healthcare IT training is a cocktail: one part material, one part delivery method, and two parts training talent. Even the most engaging material or advanced delivery method will fall flat if it’s in
the hands of an inexperienced or ineffective trainer.
A great trainer possesses superior flexibility, problem-solving skills, and charisma — they are able to control a room or situation with precision while remaining adaptable enough to tailor information on the fly. Finding reliable and effective trainers goes beyond just finding someone with a great resume — which is why so few leaders find truly effective trainers in the first place.
How to address it: You wouldn’t expect a school teacher to interview and hire a doctor or nurse, so why would you expect someone not skilled in workplace training to find great trainers? Training is a specialized skill, and the people best equipped to recognize talent are those that have hands-on experience in training themselves.
Rather than trying to find trainers yourself, work with a team that has an established track record of finding great trainers as well as great results. Ask them what they look for in an HIT trainer and what trends they see happening in their industry.
Last but not least, look for testimonials from past clients and learners rather than just a list of past engagements. Great trainers get great feedback, and aren’t afraid to share it.
#2: Getting Employee Buy-in
Let’s get one myth out of the way — employees, in fact, do want to learn at work. Learning is a critical element for success for just about any professional role, and this fact isn’t lost on healthcare providers and administrators. That said, the way that employees want to learn is rarely in-line with how (and what) healthcare institutions want to teach.
According to a LinkedIn study, about 52% of professionals seek out learning in a time of need — usually to solve a problem that’s facing them right at that moment. In contrast, most training formats not only cover material regardless of its immediate utility, but often do so without connecting new information to real problems facing learners.
This is probably why statistics show that employees ultimately utilize only 5 to 20 percent of what they’re taught in training courses, and why so many employees view “training” as a punishment rather than a method for improving workplace performance.
How to address it: Before worrying about the “how” of your training strategy, take a moment to closely consider the “why”. What problems are you solving for employees, and how will they benefit? What do you expect to see following training if its successful, and what improvements should your employees expect to see?
No matter how dedicated your employees are, they are still going to wonder: “what’s in it for me?” Make sure that training highlights the benefits for employees before training begins. Then, ensure that examples used within training formats are applicable and recognizable to trainees. Better yet, partner with a trainer that knows how to adapt material to feel more applicable and actionable.
#3: Standardizing Training Delivery
Hospital employees are not all created equal — yet for a majority of HIT training programs, they are often treated as if they are. Standardization of training delivery is a key element in controlling costs and ensuring consistent outcomes when deploying HIT training, but it’s a double-edged sword. Standardization might be more convenient and consistent, but it also actively undermines employees’ diverse learning styles.
One popular theory called the VARK model identifies four primary types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. While in-person, lecture-style training formats lend themselves to visual and auditory learners, for instance, it would put a kinesthetic learner at a distinct disadvantage.
How to address it: The key to balancing learner outcomes with cost-saving measures is to focus less on the training delivery, and more on the trainer (or trainers) themselves. An experienced trainer can translate material for different types of learners in a way that no textbook or online course can — which is why their skill should be evaluated alongside training formats.
#4: Managing Remote Training
It’s not always possible or cost-effective to carry out in-person training for a geographically diverse team. Sometimes, remote training formats are the only way to consistently deliver training to people living in different cities, states, and even countries.
While remote training formats might be a great fit for other industries, however, healthcare is distinct — largely because those that work in healthcare formats already resent computers and technology in a way that few other professions do.
In fact, a 2016 study found that physicians spend about two hours doing computer work for every hour spent face-to-face with a patient — and that’s regardless of the brand of medical software. Even when physicians are in an examination room, they spend half of their patient-facing time completing tasks electronically. That means much of this computer-based work spills over after hours, leaving plenty of healthcare providers scrambling to finish computer-based tasks rather than spending their precious free time with friends and family.
How to address it: Sometimes training requires some level of remote engagement — but that doesn’t mean it needs to feel impersonal. Instructor-led virtual training is a growing trend within just about every industry — and for good reason. Since numerous studies indicate that students retain about 50 percent of the content they hear and see in the form of a video as compared to only 10 percent of what they read, virtual instructor-led training (vILT) is not only more engaging, it’s more effective.
Deploying vILT learning formats will help physicians and other healthcare staff get the personalized, human-centered experience they want with the cost-saving benefits your institution needs. Plus, vILT formats allow you to record and save content for later, which benefits continued
learning as well.
#5: Supporting Continued Learning
“You’re all smart, so you can learn all of this in just [insert unrealistic time frame here].”
No matter the industry, just about every professional has heard a trainer utter these words before. Though well-meaning, this statement points to a much bigger problem: trainers’ unrealistic expectations about each learner’s ability to retain information presented only once. Data proves
it, too — according to a study conducted by Festo, people only retain about 30% of what they’ve learned after a one-time information dump.
Even the smartest learners can’t remember everything they learn within one rapid-fire session, which is why continued learning is a key element of any successful training strategy. Getting continued learning right at scale, though, is harder than it sounds.
How to address it: While it’s tempting to cram training all into one day, week or even a single afternoon, it’s a surefire way to undermine its effectiveness. Consider the amount of information you need to disseminate, and then consider how that information can be spread out over a set of training sessions. Not only will this reduce learner fatigue, it will also proactively support retention of critical information.
If spreading out training isn’t possible, consider how you can bring “refresher” courses into the fold. This way, you can help learners retain more information while still saving costs on training deployment.