In recent months the need for effective learning management systems has been brought into sharp relief. Whether platforms are designed for school children, students or professionals, no one can now be in any doubt about the value of online learning that doesn’t rely on being in a particular place at a particular time.

The Research Institute of America found that eLearning increases retention rates 25% to 60% compared to the 8-10% recorded with face-to-face training. It requires 40-60% less time because users can progress at a pace that suits them as individuals, easily speeding up or slowing down to suit themselves. In addition, it also has the benefit of being an environmentally responsible choice, reducing energy consumption as well as CO2emissions from travel. 

The benefits for healthcare workers

When it comes to healthcare settings, learning management systems are effective in most fields but are particularly relevant to healthcare. With new treatments, protocols and regulations appearing all the time keeping up with the latest developments is a tough job. Add in the fact that many hospital and care staff work in shift patterns or will struggle to take time out of the workplace when they have scheduled patient appointments and it’s obvious why having access to training and education at a time that suits them has become increasingly popular. Not to mention that it allows access to experts who wouldn’t otherwise be available.

So, what are the key elements of successful learning systems in healthcare? Perhaps most importantly they need to be trusted and up to date. As well as providing access to the latest thinking, they need to provide an engaging, immersive experience to users who are used to the frictionless services offered by the likes of Amazon and Airbnb. And they need to be welcoming and inclusive to everyone, regardless of differences in gender, background, cultural identity and ability.

They should be multi-channel where it makes sense to do so and compliance allows, available via mobile device as well as on a PC, laptop or tablet. They are likely to contain different pathways for different users – the knowledge needed by a doctor or surgeon is going to be understandably different to that needed by support staff or carers – and provide a highly personalised experience. They should use techniques from behavioural science to encourage learning and empower users on their journey through the platform. And they should enable collaboration and sharing between users so that they feel connected to and supported by the group even though they may be thousands of miles apart. 

Learning management systems can also assist users in keeping on track with their learning, sending notifications and reminders as they work through courses, as well as automatically delivering training materials as and when they’re needed. Data analytics also allow for continual enhancement of the experience and for management to track progress and get confirmation when individuals successfully complete courses that may be essential to comply with regulations.

New technologies like virtual and augmented reality are particularly relevant to healthcare learning, allowing users to learn and practice new skills, for instance in surgery, in an entirely risk-free setting. 

The cornerstone of a culture of learning

But no matter how good a learning management system is, to be truly successful it can’t exist in isolation – ‘if you build it, they will come’ won’t necessarily work here, especially not long-term. Its advantages need to be properly communicated to the intended users. Most organisations recognise the need for a workplace culture that values online learning, progression and change. Healthcare businesses need to find effective ways of tapping into this and becoming a trusted source of learning. 

Face-to-face learning, big events and conferences have their own advantages in terms of communication and the ability to share and discuss with others in person. But they can’t compete with learning management systems in terms of reach and cost. Online platforms can reach thousands, even millions of people, across the world if necessary, many of whom would never have the financial resources for long-term professional teaching in person.

They can also be set up rapidly. Already some learning management systems have appeared specifically to educate health care workers about COVID 19. In April, NHS University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust launched a platform so that doctors, nurses, carers, volunteers and support staff could educate themselves. The platform was designed to reach 60,000 people, free of charge, with certificates automatically delivered to users proving their learning and involvement. It’s not hard to imagine how crucial this was in equipping thousands of people with the most up to date information, building confidence and helping to lessen some of the anxiety around treating people with this very new disease. 

At some point there will be a post-COVID era. Face-to-face teaching will return to being regular, and reliable. The conferences and large-scale events which were such an important part of the healthcare landscape before 2020 will begin again, but perhaps with smaller in-person audiences augmented by online engagement. Learning management systems, accelerated and improved through necessity, are more important than ever. Not only can they scale up to educate millions of healthcare workers and unofficial carers, but they can do so using behavioural and psychological methods that make them a more effective way of learning and retaining information. 

Pre-COVID the Healthcare Learning Management System Market had been estimated to grow at a CAGR of 25.1% during 2018–2023, figures that are likely to be blown out of the water because of the increased need for online learning in 2020. In the years to come those companies and organisations who can implement effective learning platforms that provide state-of-the-art knowledge that aligns with their business goals and values will not only become more attractive to the most talented workers, they will also empower their institution towards greater progress in medical treatment – and better outcomes for patients.

The BIO Agency can work with you to create effective learning management systems in healthcare and beyond. Talk to us to find out more about how we can help. 

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