BY CATHERINE BURKE, SENIOR MANAGER, AND EMMIE KLINE, ASSOCIATE
In recent years, remote work has become increasingly common across industries – including healthcare – as organizations seek to hire the best talent regardless of their physical proximity. Even if you weren’t an organization that previously modeled and championed remote work, chances are that your organization has had to transition to remote work, at least temporarily, in 2020.
Yes – eventually people will return to the office in some capacity. However, the selection and adoption of highly effective virtual platforms is essential for business operations both now and in the future.
One especially challenging question in this transition to virtual platforms and remote work is how to approach training within your organization – a task we recently tackled firsthand in our work to support a large healthcare client that unexpectedly transitioned from in-person, instructor-led classes to live online training sessions to support the implementation of a new electronic health record (EHR) at its facilities.
While virtual training inevitably presents new challenges for every business, performing a comprehensive evaluation of your organization’s needs will allow you to develop a successful virtual training strategy. Consider the factors discussed below when preparing your organization for participation in remote training programs.
Evaluate pain points
Users’ ability to navigate complicated software platforms is often overlooked in the virtual training process, but ultimately this factor should drive an organization’s overall strategy. Consider what devices your employees will use to participate in training sessions and how that impacts user experience. If users are not able to install the necessary applications, access their class sessions, and use the virtual platform to participate in sessions, virtual training is ineffective and frustrating for the user and instructor alike. When using a virtual training platform to learn a complex subject, such as how to use your organization’s new EHR, inefficiencies may even indirectly impact patient experience and outcomes, in addition to slowing user adoption. Anticipating and accounting for potential difficulties should inform software and equipment selection, ultimately easing the transition to remote training.
A comprehensive communication strategy is an essential component of any organization’s virtual training plan, especially when working with large groups or when conducting a series of sessions. In order to successfully participate, users must receive all the information they need to participate, know exactly where to locate this information, and understand how to get additional support for each session. If doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers in your facilities do not frequently use their work email, consider an alternative method to send necessary information. Standardizing communication and bridging any existing or potential gaps helps organizations acclimate to an online training environment.
Ultimately, incorporating user support into your virtual training strategy is necessary for a successful experience. Especially for users who are not technologically savvy or are accustomed to traditional classroom settings, online learning is daunting. Users may not understand virtual meeting etiquette or video conferencing best practices, such as how to mute or join live with video. Consider providing a virtual training orientation program, a live support line, multiple class facilitators, or other mechanisms to provide prompt and effective assistance to users. When possible, consider preparing socially distanced training rooms at your hospitals or other facilities to utilize for practice on the platform, on-demand training, or live online training classes; this gives your employees a convenient and dedicated space to work, as well as instant access to all necessary equipment and software.
Clarify your goals
Unfortunately, one of the many challenges of remote training is maintaining participants’ attention for the duration of a session, as distractions in uncontrolled remote environments are inevitable. (AG: Even when facilitating live classes that are ultimately more engaging than prerecorded videos or other informational materials, class instructors may still struggle to involve participants, especially if the class does not require active participation.) However, by clarifying goals at the outset of class, users know exactly what they should expect to gain from the session. Additionally, setting realistic goals for a single class and dividing into multiple sessions when necessary will help secure participants’ attention and thus improve overall effectiveness.
Commit to improvement
While establishing a clear plan to implement a successful virtual training experience, organizations must balance preparation with flexibility in order to continuously improve their processes. Consider evaluating your first round of virtual training sessions to determine where to focus your efforts. Additionally, giving your trainers and participants the opportunity to voice their frustrations boosts morale while also bettering your process for the future. For example, anonymous surveys provide an excellent avenue for this feedback. Dedicating your organization to continuous improvement from the outset ensures that your training operations function effectively in the long run.
Whether your healthcare organization’s training functions as onboarding for new employees, ongoing professional development, or serves another purpose, a successful transition to virtual training requires comprehensive and deliberate planning. Selecting and implementing the right platform now will help your organization optimize your training program now and in the future.
Are you interested in learning more about effectively implementing a virtual training strategy? Contact us using the form below.