As we move toward a post-pandemic state, it has become clear that healthcare worker training has evolved tremendously over the past few years. During COVID-19, healthcare facilities have leveraged new techniques, tools, and data analytics that will impact the future of learning and development in the industry.
To gather valuable insights on the current state and future of training for healthcare professionals, Ranil Herath, President of Emeritus Healthcare, spoke with two leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) at an Emeritus digital event: Dr. Alvin Steward, Branch Chief, and Johnathan Gardner, Chief Learning Officer and Director of Human Capital Programs.
They explored a range of issues related to effective healthcare upskilling and reskilling, including the use of data analytics and diversity initiatives to impact employee learning.
Is Training Healthcare Workers Online the ‘Future Normal’?
During the event, Dr. Steward clarified, “I like the term ‘future normal’ because I don’t think we’ll ever be the same again. I don’t think (the world will) ever go back to business as it once was.”
The pandemic required us all to pivot quickly to training healthcare workers online. Though this may have been challenging, HHS learned how to do this type of healthcare worker training well, Dr. Steward said. Online learning is a great advantage for a geographically diverse workforce, he said, and this is especially true for an HHS global employee base of more than 80,000.
“Now we’ve learned that we can do this in a virtual perspective across the globe,” Dr. Steward said. “And we continue to do this every day.”
Different healthcare workers have different learning styles. That’s why offering leadership development that includes varied methods, even in the online format, is essential.
“I’m looking to the future to maximize the opportunities to diversify the modalities that we’re using—to make sure that not just training is occurring, but that learning is happening,” Gardner said. For example, effective virtual training requires instructor-led sections—not just clicking through a course, which isn’t as engaging.
Successful Healthcare Training Using Data Analytics
All healthcare organizations experienced challenges in their upskilling initiatives during the pandemic. Becoming agile and flexible was a must. Changing from in-person to strictly virtual was stressful, but it revealed new possibilities for training–especially when it came to available training data.
“(The pandemic) taught us to use the data that we had a little bit better,” Dr. Steward said. “I think we already relied on data quite a bit. But it put us in a position where we had to take a good look at analytics to understand where we were headed.”
HHS effectively uses survey data to guide workplace culture evolution in response to employee input. Using the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, managers and employees can shape the changes they implement throughout the year, including identifying employee training needs.
“Everyone’s involved. Everyone’s taking part in co-creating what the work environment becomes,” Gardner said.
Healthcare Worker Training Visualization Tools
Leveraging tools that make employee engagement data accessible to all allows healthcare professionals to learn where training gaps exist. The HHS uses one created by the National Institutes of Health that shows employee survey results as a heat map. This allows them to identify areas that require focused attention.
With this mapping tool, supervisors can create training opportunities to address the gaps they identify. Using an in-depth analysis of available data, HHS discovered that employees rated their own supervisors as more supportive than those responsible for learning and development in their organization. This insight helped leaders initiate communication changes and learning initiatives to improve the employee experience.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in Training Healthcare Professionals
Building a culture of DEIA requires a prioritization of equity in all healthcare reskilling and upskilling programs. HHS works with its DEIA office to embed learning initiatives in strategic planning.
Assessing healthcare training programs to see where they can address DEIA is a planning priority for the HHS, according to Gardner. Learning about these themes is important for all employees, from more junior staff and interns to senior leaders.
An HHS action plan for DEIA employee training initiatives specifically mentions looking at data to drive decisions for upskilling. As part of the implementation, “One of the things that we need to stop doing is operating on assumption,” Gardner said. “We need to be very intentional with the changes we’re making in the organization to ensure that data is driving those changes.”
Healthcare Training to Increase Leadership Diversity
Leadership development in the healthcare industry requires training and learning through experience, especially for diverse employees.
Promoting a culture that includes peer and executive coaching gives leaders insights into how others work. Plus, teaching leaders to appreciate how cultural differences add to the business outcomes of the organization impacts all leaders and employees.
“If we all thought the same, there would never be innovation,” Gardner said. “(Diversity) creates some of the wonderful innovations in medicine, public health, and other fields.”
Including DEIA training for all healthcare employees can foster innovation. It also supports the goals of creating a workplace environment that values learning and difference.
Learn more about how you can partner with Emeritus Healthcare to develop healthcare workforce development programs for upskilling and reskilling your workforce.