How to Embrace Lifelong Learning to Adapt to a Changing Healthcare Landscape

Senior Director of Marketing

The healthcare industry is in a constant state of change, driven in part by regulatory developments. Resisting or avoiding such change could result in financial penalties and other negative consequences for healthcare organizations.

Lifelong learning can help HR and other healthcare professionals develop the resilience and flexibility to adapt to such changes. With lifelong learning, healthcare professionals contribute to their professional long-term success, and that of their organizations.

What is lifelong learning?

The term “lifelong learning” usually refers to an attitude or a series of actions by which a person can develop or sharpen their professional skills over many years. Lifelong learning can be formal, such as earning a graduate degree or continuing medical education (CME) credits. Other options are less structured, such as keeping up with industry news or maintaining professional networks.

The ability to be a lifelong learner is itself highly valuable for healthcare organizations and professionals:

  • Lifelong learning helps healthcare professionals learn new skills, stay current in their profession, and deepen their knowledge.
  • Lifelong learning expands their ability to contribute to their organization, industry, or society.
  • Professionals who practice lifelong learning expand their career options.
  • Individuals who are open to learning are more flexible in the face of change and other workplace and industry challenges.

In healthcare, lifelong learning is not just a possibility, but a responsibility. It enables professionals to provide the safest, most effective patient care. This can reduce costs and improve patient outcomes, two ongoing goals in healthcare.

What regulatory developments encourage lifelong learning in healthcare?

Regulatory developments are a common catalyst for healthcare change. When healthcare professionals are lifelong learners, they are better prepared to navigate regulatory developments and the resulting changes.

  • Addressing Workplace Violence

Workplace violence incidents are on the rise, with healthcare workers experiencing some of the highest rates of reported workplace injuries. In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an updated “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.”

OSHA has also solicited public information for the creation of potential standards to reduce healthcare workplace violence. Healthcare HR professionals who practice lifelong learning are more prepared to stay informed of new guidelines, and will be able to stay compliant and ensure the safety of healthcare staff.

  • Value-Based Payment Models

The healthcare industry is shifting from volume-based payment to value-based payment (VBP) models, encouraged by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Many Medicare programs, state Medicaid programs, and commercial payers are joining VBP arrangements and launching new VBP models.

Healthcare providers need to understand how they will be affected by the move to VBP and decide how to respond. Because this move is an ongoing process, health professionals will have to stay informed in the long term, aided by lifelong learning skills.

  • Drug Pricing

Many lawmakers focused on drug pricing in 2019, and will continue to do so in 2020. For example, the U.S. Senate is currently considering the “Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019,” which includes oversight and disclosure requirements relating to brand-name drug prices.

Healthcare organizations, providers, and other professionals should be aware of medication costs and any other issues that influence patient decisions and behaviors. By staying up-to-date on the developments surrounding drug pricing, healthcare professionals can better anticipate and respond to patient and payer concerns.

How to embrace lifelong learning in healthcare

Successful lifelong learning combines attitude and technique. Healthcare leaders can use different methods to successfully adopt and utilize lifelong learning.

  • Embrace humility and a willingness to learn from others.

Lifelong learners never assume they know everything already. Healthcare professionals should be open to new information or perspectives. This includes acknowledging the value of feedback and participating in self-assessment, including understanding their professional strengths and weaknesses.

  • Be open to multiple learning techniques.

Lifelong learning takes many forms. While some individuals learn best in a classroom environment, others may find more value from educational or professional apps, networking events, academic journals, or mentoring relationships.

  • Healthcare organizations must encourage lifelong learning.

Organizations that encourage lifelong learning in their healthcare professionals can better meet new challenges and stay competitive. For example, they may implement mentorship programs, host educational sessions, or allow flexible scheduling for CME.

  • Stay current on licensing and accreditation requirements.

Professional certification is a key element in lifelong learning. Besides setting industry standards, certification and accreditation organizations provide a source of information for professionals who want to expand their skills and knowledge.

All healthcare providers and other professionals need to develop new skills and acquire new knowledge to help meet regulatory challenges and respond to changes in healthcare. Lifelong learning ensures that healthcare professionals are prepared to join their industry’s continued evolution.