Last updated: 25.08.17

How e-learning can address communication issues in the healthcare sector

As pressures within the UK healthcare sector increase, it is becoming increasingly vital that hospitals, clinical teams and other providers of essential care services are operating efficiently, compassionately and with constant attention to detail.

Upholding these standards can be a challenging ask, which is why good communication is one of the most important qualities for any healthcare team to uphold. Unfortunately, this can sometimes fall by the wayside when language barriers and inconsistent methodologies get in the way - with the result being that patient safety and care quality sometimes end up taking a hit.

Fortunately, e-learning can offer an ideal solution to many of these problems, helping healthcare professionals to communicate clearly at all times - a key step in safeguarding patients, staff and the sustainability of the health service as a whole.

Why is clear communication so important in healthcare?

Naturally, clear communication should be considered a key priority within any professional environment, but this is particularly the case in the high-stakes world of healthcare, where patients' wellbeing and survival often depend upon complex, specific and highly technical information being accurately relayed from one person to another.

This can be difficult at the best of times, but even more so against a backdrop of shrinking public budgets, hectic work schedules and a rise in demand for care provision due to the needs of an ageing population. Complicating the issue further is the fact that these trends are making many hospitals more reliant than ever before on workers from overseas, some of whom may be less proficient in English-language communication than others.

Clear communication is vital within healthcare teams to ensure the right information is passed from one colleague to another, but it's perhaps even more important in interactions between staff and patients, who rely on care professionals to provide them with insights into how their condition might affect them, what treatments are available and how to manage potential side effects. As such, this is not an issue that healthcare teams can afford to get wrong.

How can e-learning help?

For organisations that wish to nip this problem in the bud, e-learning can offer an ideal solution. At a time when healthcare regulators are doing more than ever to make sure everyone within the healthcare workforce can demonstrate the necessary linguistic proficiency, e-learning courses offer a targeted means of providing training opportunities to workers who are in greatest need of brushing up their skills.

E-learning means it will no longer be necessary to commit resources to provide in-person training for only a small number of workers, or to ask these members of staff to take part in generic language courses in their own time. Instead, bespoke training programmes can be offered in a way that's tailored to the specific needs and vocabulary of the workplace in question, with staff able to access learning materials as and when it may be convenient through online channels.

By overseeing this process and setting specific training goals that staff can work towards at their own pace, healthcare bosses will find that it is possible to instil a standardised professional vocabulary among workers, greatly enhancing the quality of communication and raising standards of care accordingly.

How is e-learning specifically suited to the healthcare sector?

All sorts of organisations have discovered the benefits of e-learning in recent years, but there are a few obvious ways in which this type of training can be particularly well-suited for the healthcare sector specifically.

At a time when healthcare workers are busier than ever before, e-learning allows them to flexibly fit their training into their own schedules, rather than having to make time for pre-planned sessions that might clash with other responsibilities. These time efficiency benefits are accompanied by the cost-effectiveness of choosing digital training tools over in-person tutelage, which is a key advantage for healthcare sector bodies that need to manage their budgets carefully.

However, it's worth remembering that e-learning is not a silver bullet solution in and of itself; it's vital that managers take the time to get the buy-in of staff members and plan the rollout carefully if the training programme is to be a success. By thinking carefully about how best to communicate these considerations to the relevant parties, it becomes a lot more likely that the intended benefits on the overall communication culture of the organisation can be achieved in the longer term.

Summary: Clear communication is more important in the healthcare sector than almost any other field of work, and e-learning can be a vital tool in helping to address the language barriers that are currently making this difficult to achieve.


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