Tech & Innovation

Bridging the Skills Gap: Online Training for Healthcare Professionals

Bridging the Skills Gap - Online Training for Healthcare Professionals
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The healthcare industry is facing a pressing skills gap. Nearly 9 in 10 healthcare organizations report talent shortages across both clinical and non-clinical roles. By 2025, shortfalls of between 54,100 to 139,000 physicians are projected in the US alone. This skills and labor crisis in healthcare can lead to negative impacts on patient access, quality of care, and health outcomes.

Bridging these gaps will require comprehensive workforce development and training. Online learning has emerged as an accessible and cost-effective solution to upskill healthcare professionals. 

The flexibility and scalability of online training allow healthcare systems to rapidly train large numbers of staff in critical emergency skills and competencies like Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). From continuing education to leadership development, online modalities enable personalized and engaging learning experiences.

As healthcare organizations aim to curb talent shortages and enhance workforce capabilities, targeted investment in online training for healthcare professionals will be key.

This article will explore the benefits of online training for healthcare providers, the types of training needed, best practices for implementation, overcoming challenges, and realizing the full potential of online learning to equip healthcare workforces for success.

Benefits of Online Training for Healthcare Organizations

Online training offers healthcare organizations and professionals myriad benefits compared to traditional in-person instruction. Some key advantages include:

  • Flexibility and Accessibility: Online learning can be completed anytime, anywhere. This allows busy healthcare professionals to fit training around demanding schedules. Remote accessibility also enables the training of distributed workforces.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Online education eliminates expenses like travel and facility rentals. Healthcare providers can realize 40-60% cost savings compared to classroom-based training. Scalability also results in lower per-learner costs.
  • Personalized Learning: Digital training can be tailored to individual knowledge levels and learning needs. Adaptive learning technologies create customized educational paths for each learner.
  • Improved Engagement: Interactive e-learning formats like video, simulations, and gamification boost learner engagement and knowledge retention over lectures.
  • Up-to-date Content: Digitally delivered education can be rapidly updated to include the latest best practices, research, and innovations in the field.
  • Trackable Outcomes: Online training allows for detailed tracking of participation, course completion, knowledge gains, and application on the job. This data enables iterative improvements.
  • Broad Reach: Digital access allows organizations to scale training across large, distributed workforces with consistency.

Online training gives healthcare professionals control over their continual learning. It is the most time- and cost-efficient way to skill up large healthcare workforces while delivering personalized, interactive, and up-to-date education. The trackable outcomes and broad reach unlocked by online modalities make them a strategic imperative.

See Also: Emerging Healthcare Technologies and Trends

Types of Online Training for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare organizations can leverage online education to address a diverse range of workforce training needs, including:

  • Continuing Education: Online courses allow healthcare professionals to meet requirements for licensure, certifications, and maintenance of credentials. Subjects include medical ethics, HIPAA compliance, emerging treatments, etc.
  • New Skills Training: Digital learning is ideal for training large staff cohorts in new clinical procedures, medical technologies, healthcare IT systems, and other skill updates.
  • Soft Skills Development: Interactive online courses can refine soft skills like communication, empathy, cultural competence, and bedside manner.
  • Leadership and Management Training: Supervisors and emerging leaders can build critical leadership capacities through online leadership development programs.
  • Telehealth Training: As telehealth expands, online training ensures providers follow best practices in virtual visits, patient engagement, and utilizing telehealth tech.
  • Wellness and Resilience: Online offerings focused on burnout prevention, stress management, mindfulness, and teamwork improve staff wellbeing and retention.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Online DEI training confronts biases and improves cultural awareness to provide equitable, high-quality care.
  • Patient Safety: Digital education promotes adherence to safety protocols and behaviors, preventing critical medical errors.

Online modalities allow delivering required training plus specialized upskilling tailored to learners’ roles and developmental needs – at scale. Online training in healthcare is as diverse as the needs of modern health workforces.

Implementing Online Training

To maximize the impact of online training for healthcare professionals, organizations should follow key best practices:

  • Conduct Needs Assessments: Survey learners and conduct gap analyses to identify the most urgent training needs and opportunities for growth.
  • Choose the Right Platform: Select a learning management system that provides features like social learning, microlearning, gamification, and integration with HR systems.
  • Develop Engaging Content: Instructional designers should create interactive, multimedia courseware tailored to adult learners’ needs and learning styles.
  • Promote Offerings: Encourage enrollment through internal marketing campaigns and manager recommendations of relevant courses.
  • Incentivize Participation: Offer rewards like clinical ladder advancement, certification, PTO, and public recognition for course completion.
  • Track Outcomes: Collect data on learner satisfaction, knowledge gains, and on-the-job skill application to refine training offerings.
  • Evaluate and Iterate: Use feedback and training data to continually update content, improve the learning experience, and demonstrate training ROI.
  • Make Training Accessible: Ensure online courses are mobile-friendly and compatible with assistive technologies to provide equitable access.

Following best practices in promoting, delivering, and tracking digital training ensures healthcare professionals develop the precise skills to excel in their roles. Ongoing evaluation and improvement of online offerings is key.

Related: What Impact Will the IoT Have on Healthcare Sector?

Overcoming Challenges

Deploying online training in healthcare does present some challenges to address:

  • Technophobia: Some healthcare professionals may lack comfort with technology or digital literacy skills needed for e-learning. Onboarding and tech support help.
  • Time Constraints: Busy schedules may make it difficult for workers to complete training. Mobile and microlearning options optimize limited time.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Learners do not always apply knowledge from online training to practice. Contextualized content and job aids facilitate transfer.
  • Learner Motivation: Keeping learners engaged and focused during self-paced courses takes thoughtful instructional design.
  • Clinical Skills Development: While online training excels at knowledge transfer, clinical skills may require in-person supplementary training.
  • Leadership Buy-In: Managers must recognize the value of online training to invest time and resources into effective digital education initiatives.

With empathy, support for learners, innovative instructional design, and leadership buy-in, the challenges of digital education can be overcome to create rewarding online experiences. A holistic training strategy integrates online and in-person modalities.

Also Read: How AI Chatbots Are Digitizing Patient Care


Online training presents a tremendous opportunity for healthcare organizations to reskill workforces and curb growing skills gaps. The flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of e-learning enable the development of the talent needed to meet rising patient demand and evolving care models.

Healthcare systems that embrace online education and follow proven implementation strategies will realize multiple benefits. Professionals gain accessible, engaging training and continuing education. Organizations reduce costs, boost staff capabilities, and improve patient outcomes.

While the adoption of online training in healthcare has grown steadily, it remains an underutilized solution to workforce challenges. As technology-enabled methods continue advancing, more healthcare employers must invest in digital learning platforms, instructional design, and online course offerings.

This high-return training strategy will future-proof workforces with in-demand competencies. Healthcare’s skills crisis can be overcome through online workforce development enabling professional growth and organizational success.

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