Education and technology converge at the intersection of “Meaningful Use.” Training and professional development can be available at and targeted to point of patient care. Continuous and customized education can address the gaps and needs revealed and mined in a dynamic database of digital patient care records. Technology makes it possible to plan and provide a customized flow of continuing education synchronized to the specific panel of patients encountered in clinical practice. Patients themselves become the textbook and the context for learning. 21st Century forward-looking healthcare organizations require:
Learning can be aligned with the organization’s specific patient database.
Research across all sectors of the economy validate the many values of robust education and training to an organization.
Healthcare organizations today need to drive performance from every aspect of their IT investments. Educational technology combined with information technology are tools build a skilled and smarter workforce. Organization committed to and invested in training yield higher levels of customer and staff satisfaction.
A curriculum of education developed from and for a provider organization focused and based on its digital patient records, also, can address the re-licensure, re-certification, and maintenance of certification requirements of its healthcare professionals. It can be offered as a highly valued benefit. This education can be provided on a private provider network available to employees anytime and anywhere.
CME activities can transform learners from “reservoirs” into “rivers” as the knowledge and information gained can flow back to their colleagues and institutions
I have spent considerable time over the course of my professional life planning and implementing continuing education activities for healthcare professionals. These activities make a heavy investment time, effort and money to execute “live” activities for a relative few at national annual meetings. These activities mobilize clinical and research faculty expert leadership and presented the most current knowledge and understandings on a wide range of clinical challenges.
Association and advocacy organization national events have been a primary channel for the flow of knowledge and information essential to professional continuous development. The challenge, however, is that professionals able to afford the time and expense of attendance at this events is a very limited compared to their numbers in practice across the US and internationally. Statistics show the number of professionals attending such events is declining as a percent of membership.
These activities are “reservoirs” rather than “rivers” for the flow of knowledge and information.
The concern of continuing education providers is to see the knowledge provided in such “live” classrooms actually applied in clinical practice and to see an impact of care outcomes. The challenge is to take the new insights and knowledge “back home” and translate it into daily practice.
This is where is the idea of “teaching it forward” applies. The idea is to provide the tools and to encourage the professionals in attendance at these national events to take the activity back home and teach it to the team that can put it into practice. Be a “river” and not a “reservoir”. I think of these “live” national activities as studios that can be leveraged using information and communications technologies that can produce “tools” and resources for dramatically extending the reach and availability of new knowledge and clinical effectiveness. These range from streaming activities, video and audio logging and archiving activities, to producing slide kits and reference PDFs. The professional returning home can assemble the relevant team and simply view the activity and discuss locally its implications, or take the activity collateral and teach the new knowledge and clinical insights.
Educational psychology research supports the proposition the best way to learn is to teach. Teach it forward.
Healthcare is a knowledge and technology driven enterprise. These drivers accelerate both in volume, in force, and are dramatically disrupting and reshaping the face and character of healthcare. The educational infrastructure preparing and supporting members of the healthcare team to remain current and competent is moving steadily away from a preoccupation and focus on initial professional preparation to an education that gives an emphasis to continuous professional development over a lifetime of practice. As with a battery, a single initial charge will not sustain a professional over a lifetime of practice.
21st Century education must align with the daily and immediate problems and needs of clinical practice. Aided by data mining of the digital patient record archives, education can be customized for a specific organization and the problems of care encountered. This is in contrast to the generic expert opinion of “one size fits all” continuing education activities, driven by industry interests external to one’s practice organization. The emerging system must leverage the creative talent of professionals within the organization rather than rely upon activities solely developed and presented by faculty outside of the walls of the organization. The curriculum of the organization, ideally, is premised to provide optimal patient care within its own setting and circumstances.
Healthcare services organizations have traditionally devoted some level of activity and calendar to addressing the learning needs of its professionals. Some combination of appointed leadership, education committees and classroom “grand rounds” type activities characterized 20th Century continuing education. A 21st Century vision employs communications technologies to turbo charge the education structure and potential to blend “doing” and “learning” at the point of care. An organization now has the potential advantage of engineering its own custom learning organization.
Further, the forward facing learning health services organization is enlightened with a team education philosophy. Research has vividly established that safe and effective care is team care. An inter-professional learning team addresses a fundamental safety crisis – fragmented patient care.
Facing the onslaught of exploding knowledge and technology, today’s professional must demonstrate and document maintenance of competence. Continuous education is a core component of addressing re-licensure and maintenance of specialty certification. A 21st Century services organization will provide a relevant program of learning activities addressing specific problems of that organization, while at the same time fulfilling these requirements as an employee benefit.
The challenge and expense for most health services provider organization to develop and operate a professional education program that can do the following:
To meet this challenge, the provider organization has two options – Seek to become an accredited provider of education for physicians, nurses and pharmacists, or establish a joint provider partnership with an accredited education services organization to develop and operate an efficient and effective program custom to the needs of the organization and its healthcare team.
The path is optional, the need is certain.