Bring Efficiency and Personalization to Healthcare Training with Adaptive Learning

HealthStream recently surveyed healthcare 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. We received survey replies from 214 leaders that were collected by HealthStream using an online survey administered in July 2020. Here are some of the specific findings:

  • On Managing Employee Education and Development
  • 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%). It is rare for education and development to be led solely by HR professionals (8.8%) or nurse leadership (6.6%).

  • On Their Biggest Training Problems

    Education and development leaders listed the following as the two biggest problems they face with respect to training:

    • Assignments can be difficult to take (44.2%)
    • Employees do not know why they have been training on the same material for the last 5 years (41.1%)


    Very few mentioned “reporting training to an accrediting or regulatory body” as a problem (8.5%).

  • On Determining What Training to Deliver

    Organizations are using a number of methods to determine what learning and training to deliver to staff each year, according to healthcare leaders. Most are using one of the three following sources:

    • Committee of subject matter experts (50.4%)
    • Using general content such as a Rapid Regulatory Courses (48.8%)
    • Relying on executive level decision-making (48.8%)

    Just over one-third are relying on:

    • Last year’s plan (36.4%)
    • Employee research on federal and state requirements (36.4%)

    Please Note: very few are relying on advice from an outside source.

  • On the Use of Assessment Tools

    Fewer than three in ten were using any kind of assessment or tool to determine individual learning or training needs. Some 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.

  • On Their Opinion on 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).

    Leaders also expressed a high level of agreement with the following three statements:

    • When possible, I would like to see more options for employees to opt out of course material they already know.
    • My organization has a supportive learning culture.
    • An adaptive learning approach will improve the quality of patient care delivered by our organization.

    Comparatively, there were much lower levels of agreement for these statements:

    • Our organization has been researching ways we might implement adaptive learning.
    • Employee development plans are personalized to the needs of the individual employee.

HealthStream’s Approach to Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning involves a focus on the individual and meeting them where they are in terms of skill sets and competency. That translates to tailored programs that, if properly thought out and implemented, can result in heightened employee satisfaction — especially with Millennial and Gen Z cohorts. A bonus is that Gen X and Baby Boomer staff also benefit from the opportunity to demonstrate their years of expertise to test out of areas in which they are fully competent.

“Today’s learners desire a better way to learn, especially in compliance and mandatory content,” says Vanessa Hoevel, Senior Director of Product Marketing, People and Growth Solutions, HealthStream.

“It’s really the organizations who have been overly cautious. Learners want microlearning; they only want to learn things that they can’t demonstrate knowledge on currently. They want to fast-track through content that takes into consideration their years of tenure and competency. They are challenging their organizations not to assign everyone the same thing, but rather give them an opportunity to test out and show their knowledge, their competency and their proficiency.”

Learn more about HealthStream’s adaptive approach to learning.

This post is the second of two based on our article, “Efficiency and Personalization with Adaptive Learning,” by Robin L. Rose, MBA; Vice President, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream. Download the article here.

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