Improve Healthcare Training with Adaptive and Personalized Learning

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Many healthcare organizations have reached a crossroads in terms of their education and training initiatives. Dual concerns about training as many have always done it have reached a head. Organizations are encountering difficulties finding the time required for traditional training. Employees are becoming disgruntled and expressing frustration about taking the same training over and over on the same material.

Learning that is personalized to an employee’s position and knowledge base can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of a training program. To measure the degree to which healthcare organizations need to change how they use training and learning for strategic and compliance purposes, HealthStream recently surveyed industry decision-makers in the areas of employee education and development to determine their opinions of adaptive learning and their status in adopting this new approach. This blog post includes some highlights of the findings based on replies from 214 leaders that were collected by HealthStream using an online survey administered in July 2020.

Common Organizational Challenges for Healthcare Training

According to the healthcare leaders who participated in the survey, their organizational education and development programs are challenged by assignments that can be difficult for staff to take and by employees who are frustrated by having to repeatedly train on the same material. Below are the specifics we learned from survey responses:

  • There’s significant room for decision-making about individualized training programs. Organizations are relying on a number of different internal sources to determine what training to assign in the upcoming year. Assignments are not likely to be informed by assessments that can pinpoint individual learning needs.
  • Leaders believe that adaptive learning programs could provide much value for improving the effectiveness of learning and training initiatives. The healthcare leaders we surveyed saw many advantages to using an adaptive learning approach, including improved efficiency, learner satisfaction, learner engagement, and time savings.
  • Healthcare employees shouldn’t have to train continually on materiel they know well, and patient outcomes would benefit if we used adaptive learning. Healthcare leaders strongly agreed with these statements:
    • I would like to see more options for employees to opt out of course material they already know.
    • An adaptive learning approach will improve the quality of patient care delivered by our organization.

We asked those surveyed about how training and development works in their organization. Here are four additional findings from the survey about healthcare learning:

Leadership Structure - Ownership of employee education and development is handled in one of two ways in most healthcare organizations. It is either handled exclusively by learning/education professionals (36.5%) or it is handled by a cross-disciplinary team with representatives from HR, nurse leadership, and learning/education professionals (46.0%).

Training Decision-making - Organizations are using a number of methods to determine what learning and training to deliver to staff each year. Most are using one of the three following sources: subject matter experts committee (50.4%), general content from another source, such as Rapid Regulatory Courses (48.8%), or executive level decision-making (48.8%). Last year’s plan (36.4 %) and federal/state requirements (36.4%) were also high on the list.

Training Assessments - Fewer than three in ten were using any kind of assessment or tool to determine individual learning or training needs. 28.9% were using an assessment or tool to determine individual needs, but half (50.0%) were not using any kind of assessment or tool.

Need to Improve Education and Development - The majority of healthcare leaders recognized that their education and development efforts could be more efficient and that their employees would benefit from an adaptive learning approach; however, most were not currently using adaptive learning in their organization. Leaders expressed the highest level of agreement with this statement, “Our employee education and development programs and courses could be more efficient than they are today” (mean = 8.0).

This survey affirms HealthStream’s approach to adaptive learning, based on the idea that healthcare learners want to focus on training that expands their knowledge and competency.  These individuals want to fast-track through content that takes into consideration their years of tenure and competency. We are helping healthcare organizations avoid assigning every employee the same training, and rather giving them an opportunity to test out and show their knowledge, competency, and proficiency. To learn more, download the survey report by Robin L. Rose, M.B.A., Vice President, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream, on which this blog post is based, Efficiency and Personalization with Adaptive Learning.