Healthcare professionals (HCPs) must be fully equipped to deal with an emergency, follow protocol, and comply with constant regulatory changes in the quickest, most efficient way possible. 

Most of the basic, fundamental skills needed within the industry — such as hard skills and fact-based knowledge — have been learned through years of intensive medical school courses. But what about the other skills needed to respond intuitively in moments of crisis or adapt to new regulations?

Unlike hard skills, soft skills are critical to intuitive on-the-job thinking. Behaviors cannot be learned through traditional training methods like medical books and classroom training. These types of skills are instead often developed after spending years on the job, which is time the healthcare industry can’t afford when life-altering decisions must be made and time-sensitive procedural modifications occur regularly.

Expediting the development of critical-thinking skills and reinforcing behaviors through scenario-based learning is paramount to increasing proficiency and ensuring the best possible care for all patients. 

But, how can healthcare leaders do this in an industry where change is constant? One way is by using microlearning.

Microlearning is a method of continuous training and knowledge reinforcement that breaks down complex training content into digestible pieces. When training is repeated over time, microlearning increases knowledge retention and proficiency in ways that intense one-and-done training methods can’t. While best-practice microlearning uses repetition to help commit facts to memory, it’s much more nuanced than that. Here are five key aspects of microlearning that can positively affect healthcare professionals.

Situational Learning

A crucial part of any learning and development initiative is making the content relevant to participants so they can improve situational fluency. One of the best ways to do this is by creating context-rich scenarios that give learners a situation they’ll actually encounter in their daily lives. This way, participants can see firsthand how the learning program is applicable and are more likely to participate in the program. 

The combination of contextual and continuous learning and knowledge reinforcement helps ensures that at the moment of truth when learners need to apply what they’ve learned, they can recall knowledge and tap into the behaviors they’ve been taught.  This is critical for highly regulated and knowledge-intensive industries like healthcare.

Engage Learners Within The Daily Work Flow

Microlearning is quick, simple and effortlessly engages learners. One of the most important aspects of a best-practice microlearning platform is that questions are actionable and able to be completed within the daily flow of work — on participants’ smartphones. 

Since challenges can be completed in as few as 2-3 minutes, microlearning is the perfect tool for busy healthcare professionals no matter if they’re sitting in their office or on rounds. All they have to do is simply take out their phone or tablet, answer a few questions, and return to what they were doing.

In a recent whitepaper, Qstream customer Providence St. Joseph Health describes how making learning programs “nano-sized” enabled their organization to reinvent the landscape of learning for their employees. Despite their award-winning learning content, PSJH struggled with worker engagement. However, after taking a look at the unmet needs of their learners, implementing cutting-edge technology through Qstream helped boost engagement to 93% while allowing L&D leaders to cut required training and education time in half, saving their organization money.

Spacing And Testing Effect

Did you know studies have found that as little as 30 days, 79 percent of knowledge is forgotten? This phenomenon — coined the “forgetting curve” — has nothing to do with the quality of your learning program. Instead, it has everything to do with how the brain works.

Microlearning helps offset the forgetting curve by using spaced education techniques called the spacing and testing effects. The spacing effect combats the forgetting curve by increasing knowledge retention through presenting and reinforcing information over spaced intervals of time. The testing effect, meanwhile, is an active learning and long-term behavior change process that tests, challenges, and questions individuals while giving them immediate feedback.

By utilizing these two techniques, healthcare professionals can better retain information, increase proficiency, and see improved on-the-job performance.

Data-Driven Analytics

One of the most overlooked benefits of microlearning is the data collected throughout the program. Let’s say you ran a six-week program featuring 100 participants who each answered three questions per week. Upon the program’s completion, you now have at least 1,800 data points on proficiency and engagement alone that technology can help analyze and that you can use to identify gaps in job proficiencies and guide future healthcare learning and development programs.

To quote an expert instructional designer at a large non-profit healthcare system, Qstream’s analytics are gold because they empower frontline managers and protect their most valuable asset – their people. “The biggest win for us are the actionable analytics at a managerial level. When managers can see real-time data of their team members and have tools at their disposal to quickly and easily reach out to their specific team members that are struggling or succeeding – it changes the conversation.” 

Patient Impact

In healthcare, job proficiency has a direct impact on patient experience, safety, and outcomes. As such, it’s essential that patient-facing employees possess the right balance of hard skills, soft skills, and critical job knowledge required to be effective. Microlearning is one of the breakthrough techniques now being used throughout the healthcare industry to help employees reach this desired balance by continually reinforcing key messaging and best practices in just minutes a day — thereby improving patients’ overall experience.

Qstream’s microlearning platform — in partnership with the Qcert micro-certification program — can make a tangible difference in your healthcare learning initiatives. To learn more, download our webinar on how you can develop learning programs with a lasting impact. 


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