How Training Can Help Hospitals Manage Better Under the Affordable Care Act

Hospitals are already facing slim margins – an average of about 3 percent, according to the American Hospital Association. How can they afford to turn to outside experts to help them implement a training system that reduces unwanted variability, mitigates risk and increases efficiency, especially at a time when they are focused on new Affordable Care Act regulations?

The real question is, how can they not?

Typical hospital training is not always an efficient way to achieve better outcomes. Nurses teach nurses.  And while they may be excellent care givers, they are not always professional teachers. The day shift, which already has the most experienced staff, has more learning opportunities than the often less experienced and more fatigued night shift – when most medical errors occur, according to many studies. And if you have more than one hospital in your system, managing training across multiple geographies can be daunting.

In addition, medicine today is a highly dynamic field. With infectious disease outbreaks, changing regulations, and the need to reduce outcome variance, hospitals may need help not just with developing content for training programs, but for new technology to deploy it and help administering it.

If engaging expertise beyond the hospital’s walls seems too time-consuming or expensive, here are three options that could help:

1. Start small. Try bringing in training experts to deal with a specific problem area. If your ER is running smoothly but you are seeing a lot of readmits in the cardiac ward, or experiencing wide variations in outcomes depending on the shift, target that issue, then judge the return on investment for yourself.

2. Evaluate operations. Consider bringing in help to review your system-wide training and manage the operations of it. From classroom roster and course management, implementing and tracking learning across so many fields of expertise in a hospital can be expensive to manage in-house, especially if hospital staff is not proficient in that managing and there is more than one site where training needs to occur.

3. Let your stretched staff stay focused on their main job. If a hospital system’s nursing staff is already working at capacity or beyond, it may be helpful for them to work with additional expertise to develop quality training content that is dynamic and can be efficiently applied. Think about the training opportunity as a way to do more with less.