How healthcare organizations are adapting their learning for COVID-19

By Kayleigh Tanner

The global COVID-19 pandemic has put the healthcare industry under more pressure than any other time in living memory. Doctors, nurses, porters, healthcare assistants and pharmacy workers have had to adapt rapidly to keep up with the highly volatile circumstances, whether that’s dealing with new variants, identifying new symptoms, tackling localized outbreaks or managing the vaccine rollout.

That’s why healthcare organizations are turning in their droves to adaptable learning technology. Totara alone added 44 new healthcare customers in 2020 as organizations in the sector sought ways to create, deliver and monitor new learning initiatives at speed.

COVID-19 healthcare blog post

Monash Health fast-tracked a six-week solution in just five days

Monash Health is the largest public health service in Victoria, Australia providing safe, high-quality care to one-quarter of the population in Melbourne across the entire lifespan, from pre-birth to end-of-life. With the onset of COVID-19, Monash Health, in cooperation with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Department of Health, urgently needed to deploy Monash Health's PPE training for 70,000 residential care workers.

Kineo and Totara provided the anytime, anywhere learning solution aimed at care workers that Monash Health needed. They fast-tracked a six-week implementation into just five days to help combat rapidly rising COVID rates in Victoria. Thousands of residential and aged care workers were able to quickly access online training for COVID-19 PPE and infection control protocols. More than 500 residential care sites quickly accessed these life-saving training programs, with more than 7,500 individual completions of PPE learning content.

The Italian National Institute of Health upscaled their LMS from 40,000 to 450,000 users

Italy was one of the first countries badly hit by COVID-19. Istituto Superiore di Sanità is Italy’s main center for research, control and technical scientific advice for public health. They launched their first free COVID-19-related e-learning course in February 2020 to address the impending crisis. They needed to upscale their EDUISS learning platform from 40,000 users to 450,000 users in just one month.

Istituto Superiore di Sanità worked closely with Totara Partner MediaTouch to build an LMS for this purpose. The LMS also needed to support problem-based learning, keep learners updated about the evolving pandemic situation and offer robust reporting to monitor learning activity throughout Italy. More than 220,000 healthcare professionals participated in the first edition of the learning. Choosing an adaptable LMS empowered the Istituto Superiore di Sanità to upscale its LMS and deliver crucial learning across the country with ease. 

How can healthcare organizations leverage their learning management systems to adapt?

Most healthcare organizations have complex hierarchies, often with multiple management systems. Totara Learn's hierarchies functionality enables organizations to reflect their hierarchical structure in their LMS, including reporting lines and teams, ensuring everyone only sees the most relevant learning to them, and their progress gets reported to the right people.

Audiences also allow learning administrators to deliver learning to specific subsets of learners. A static audience may consist of all senior nurses, or all anesthetists, or everyone in a specific hospital, meaning everyone within the audience always receives the same learning. A dynamic audience may consist of everyone who has passed their vaccination training, or everyone who works on a high-risk hospital ward, with new people automatically added to and removed from the audience depending on a predefined set of conditions. This helps keep workflows running smoothly and minimizes unnecessary manual input from the learning team.

Multitenancy allows learning to be delivered to distinct groups from a single instance of an LMS. Organizations can create different branding for different groups, and can store data and content securely in separate parts of the LMS for more streamlined, tailored learning experiences. For instance, a hospital could create one “tenant” for internal staff, another tenant for employees of another hospital in the same district and another for patients as part of a public health campaign.

Assessment and certification allows employees to take their training and become certified within the LMS. Once they have passed the relevant training program, their certification credentials can then be stored within the LMS. They can then be sent automated reminders for future recertifications to keep everyone compliant, and managers can create reports to stay on top of mandatory certification requirements.

Many healthcare professionals do not have consistent access to computers at work, and healthcare organizations often have outdated IT infrastructures and devices. Mobile access to training via Totara Mobile allows healthcare workers to pick up where they left off with their training, allowing them to fit it into their busy workdays and access learning anytime, anywhere in the flow of work.

What other challenges must healthcare organizations prepare for?

While the current global vaccine rollout offers a glimmer of hope in this particular situation, this pandemic is far from over, and this certainly won’t be the last challenge faced by healthcare organizations around the world.

Other potential challenges could include:

  • Increasingly self-managed, self-administered medicine
  • The rise of “telemedicine,” offered remotely via video calls
  • Aging populations putting additional strain on already overstretched healthcare systems
  • Increasingly complex healthcare needs, including comorbidities
  • Medical advances, breakthroughs and cures
  • The use of “robots” in surgery and treatment
  • Leveraging healthcare data and maintaining patient privacy
  • Playing catch-up with the backlog of medical care caused by COVID-19
  • Staffing and skills shortages within the healthcare sector
  • Resource and budget constraints
  • The digitalization of the healthcare sector
  • Future pandemics

It’s impossible to know which of these might pose a challenge, when they might arise and how big the impact might be. Without this information, healthcare organizations must prioritize adaptability in their learning technology.

For instance, if a cure was found for HIV tomorrow, relevant training and information would need to be rapidly rolled out to healthcare professionals worldwide. However, this training may also need to be accessed by volunteers, outreach workers, community support workers or humanitarian organizations, requiring an adaptable LMS to support this rapid rollout across multiple audiences.

How healthcare organizations can prepare for what comes next

Download our healthcare guide to discover some of the other challenges healthcare organizations are facing, and how to tackle them in the years to come.