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Using Artificial Intelligence to Guide Individualized Healthcare Training and Development

Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to healthcare workplace development can help organizations overcome some of the challenges holding back employees from achieving great outcomes. This blog post is the second based on the HealthStream webinar, “Meet Jane, the First Clinical Competency System with AI,” which focused on workforce development challenges typical in healthcare and technological solutions.

Presenter Trisha Coady is HealthStream's top clinical officer and leads the company's clinical solution business for the U.S. healthcare workforce. Coady has experience as a registered nurse and healthcare entrepreneur and has led the development of new innovative clinical solutions for the healthcare workforce, many of them incorporating technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.

Healthcare Workforce Development Has Issues

Coady goes in depth into multiple workforce problems that have traditionally afflicted healthcare workforce development. One of them is the time shortage inherent to flatly structured organizations, where managers have too many direct reports to give time to any of them. Another is the typical failure of training to engage staff, instead leaving them with a feeling that they been assigned another transactional learning task that has little bearing on developing skills or competency. A third is the complex nature of healthcare and the inability of standardized learning plans to meet individual competency development needs and unique staff situations. AI-driven assessment and learning development programs can be an answer to these challenges.

A New Way to Mentor Staff

Coady introduces Jane, “the world’s first digital mentor for nurses,” which has been in development for four years at HealthStream. This solution “harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to create a system that personalizes competency development.” At its heart, the goal and purpose for Jane is to provide “clinical leaders with the ability to engage their staff on a personalized, lifelong learning journey.” Not only is this a way to identify and respond to risk on an individual employee basis, but it also aligns with how millennial and younger generations have been encouraged to think about their future. For anyone asking specifically what a training and development system is going to do for him or her, Jane has the answer.

Assess Competency, Then Guide Development

Coady explains that Jane “currently measures two critical areas of competency—knowledge and critical thinking.” She provides an example in which a nursing leader sees the results for an employee in terms of strengths and gaps, with a raw score and a percentile ranking reflecting the score against “four million assessments completed by clinicians across the country.” The focus of this tool is not punitive, but rather for employee development, because “we're all going to start whatever new job we do as a novice.”

The key to Jane is “the critical thinking assessment that was built using IBM Watson.” It avoids the problem inherent to previous tools that have attempted to measure competency by employing multiple choice questions. Coady remembers her own early nursing experience as a neonatal and flight nurse, when “no one was there to present me with multiple choices about what actions to take.” That’s why HealthStream chose to build the system differently, and in a way that can truly assess critical thinking. According to Coady, “Instead we've leveraged our artificial intelligence and natural language processing such that a nurse can chat with Jane using free text to demonstrate their ability to think critically.”

A System That Will Become More and More Intelligent

Development over four years has given Jane a solid foundation that supports a system of powerful and automated connections to development opportunities to improve competency. That includes 20,000 unique course titles, assessments, checklists, and videos, in what is estimated to be 34 million combinations. The ultimate intent is “to create more and more linkages to expand the choices you're able to provide your clinical professionals.” Coady offers, “This will effectively allow Jane to become more and more intelligent along with her use of AI.” Further system flexibility is involved once Jane has determined what further development an employee might need. A big decision to be made by any organization using Jane is to decide whether to allow self-directed learning or to get involved in making assignments and setting specific expectations.

Access the complete webinar recording.