A group of learners using a laptop

What next for the humble LMS in the Healthcare sector?

By on December 31, 2019

Where is Healthcare Today?

The world’s healthcare needs are changing. Growing and ageing populations, new and improved medications and new life extending procedures all place an increased pressure on our healthcare systems.  At the same time, dramatic improvements in medical techniques and care pathways result in the need for changing medical skills and resources. Implementing a Learning Management System can address these concerns.

Learning and development departments must be agile, with time and funding constraints there is also the requirement to develop new skills, knowledge and behaviours. Yet it isn’t only the UK NHS which is feeling constraints, the healthcare sector worldwide is financially squeezed with the pressure to deliver more for less.

Learning technologies can help

Training costs are significantly reduced by replacing some of the face-to-face elements for flexible, reusable and easy-to-access learning content.

Time savings are made in allowing learners to choose learning that fits into their lives and working patterns. They are free to learn wherever they are, accessing learning resources via mobile technologies.

Around 7% of LMS implementations are currently in the healthcare sector. Used in many ways from on-boarding and induction to compliance courses and refresher training. Also, healthcare staff shortages mean that many organisations recruit from overseas, so an integrated LMS platform can form an important part of the recruitment process with training and assessments taken remotely.

Healthcare organisations are thinking about how they can provide up-to-date information to the general public. Patients are becoming consumers of healthcare education, particularly in the UK, where the NHS has a long-term plan to provide more healthcare in the community to reduce pressures on NHS hospitals. It’s crucial that the information available is accurate and easily accessible by people with wide-ranging IT literacy levels.  User interfaces should be familiar to people used to mobile apps, social media platforms, and on-demand streaming services.

According to WHO, the world needs 7.2 million more healthcare professionals and in the UK the NHS alone needs to attract, train and retain 100,000 additional staff.

How are learning management systems used in healthcare?

The two key pressures for L&D within the healthcare sector are time and budget constraints. With healthcare funding a global concern, and a shortage of health workers, there are real worries that there is too little money or time left for training.

Learning technology professionals need to understand that not everyone has 24/7 fast broadband and ready access to technological gadgets to learn ‘on the fly’.

For many healthcare workers they could be sharing one ward computer running on old operating systems and used between numerous staff. That PC could also be tied up for most of the day with patient information system work. Or staff may have to cross a large hospital site to a library or Learning centre.

We’re generalising but there is a huge number of very technology savvy people who push the boundaries of technology-enabled learning and this gap in healthcare is probably greater than most industries.

So, what does that mean for a learning management system?

The system should be designed with the learner at the centre, not the features and functionality. Think about the user experience, it should be clear where to navigate, what to click, and be mindful of the learning goal? It must be simple and easy to use.

Keep the clever stuff behind the scenes. We might spend weeks with clients on complicated audience targeting and reports generation, all so that the experience for busy learners is incredibly straightforward. Simple for the learner doesn’t mean trivial to implement.

Ensure the data entered is timely and up to date. Keep track of organisation structure data, management hierarchies, new starters and leavers. These errors become especially tricky in a sprawling, 15,000-person healthcare organisation.

Curate before you create. There’s a lot of excellent learning content out there and it’s not all tied to national systems. The trick is to select content (be that elearning, videos, factsheets or networking groups) smartly, and help the learner by signposting. If they must resort to Google and YouTube, you’ve no idea whether they’re learning the most relevant or up to date things so integrated technology like Anders Pink allows curation within open source LMS’s.

Personalise the learning experience. Give people different routes to obtain and test their knowledge. Do all the staff really need the 45-minute information governance course?

Can you segment your audience and provide short refreshers, or allow people to pass robust online assessments?

So where are learning technologies heading?

We see several trends – ensure your system is flexible and future proof enough to take advantage of these! These aren’t healthcare specific, but are particularly important to this sector:

Technology enhancement – where can technology seamlessly and invisibly help the learner? This may be simple online booking of classroom sessions, offline access to learning content, adaptive LMS search facility, intranet broadcasts of medical lectures, or even social or group learning.

From corporate-centred to learner-centred – learners often feel ‘lectured to’ by the learning management system. It becomes more of a learner control system. People are forced into standard pathways of learning, with little personalisation. Forward-looking organisations flip this, from ‘you must complete learning pathways’ to ‘you must demonstrate competence’.

This works well in healthcare, where supervision-based models of real-world learning encourage a ‘show me how you do that’ approach. When learners can take responsibility for their learning, they make smart decisions about where to learn (and that can often be outside of the corporate boundaries). Ask them to collect a portfolio of evidence, and then empower managers to assess that portfolio and make decisions about the competence and learning needs of their team. This also has the excellent side effect of repositioning the L&D function from policeman or at best guardian, to designer and facilitator.

In times of constrained budgets a resilient solution should encourage local decisions about learning content and platforms, interoperability and focus on open data standards. Using these open data standards, as promoted by NHS Digital, allows free flow of learner data between organisations, critical in UK healthcare where Integrated Care Systems have employees working across traditional boundaries like primary, secondary and social care

More often we see demands for the LMS to provide a “one stop shop” managing a slick on-boarding process, Appraisal and Talent supported by professional and personal development with the aim of reducing turnover and developing existing staff.  Supporting this approach, a landmark study by Borrill and West based on 200,000 data points from 300 UK healthcare organisations showed a positive correlation between effective appraisal and high-quality training, and improved quality of care/patient mortality.

In 2018 and 2019, we found that over two thirds of our clients are moving from appraisal quantity (tracking the numbers) to appraisal quality (tracking the quality of the conversation and the organisational outcomes) and wanted to do it within their LMS for the convenience of their users.

Want to Learn More?

If you’re in the healthcare sector and want to find out more how Think Learning can help improve Learning in your organisation contact us via our website https://think-learning.com/contact/


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