Guest Column | September 5, 2019

Improving Patient Outcomes With Talent Development Technology

By Anita Bowness, Saba Software


Healthcare organizations today are challenged with meeting stringent HIPAA and Meaningful Use regulatory requirements, navigating Electronic Medical Record (EMR) conversions, and managing a widening skills gap. At the same time, they are expected to improve patient satisfaction, service quality, and overall efficiency metrics.

Organizations that thrive in this rapidly changing environment are those that embrace change, adapt their business processes and practices, and prepare their employees to navigate the complexities of the industry.

Innovative healthcare organizations realize that the path forward requires a patient-centric mindset. But delivering greater value to patients requires an effective, engaging talent development strategy. After all, recent research has proven that organizations with effective talent management practices have higher HCAHPS scores, less nursing turnover, less management turnover and higher employee productivity.

By aligning employee and organizational goals, creating a culture of continuous development, and linking learning to performance, healthcare organizations can achieve true employee engagement which, in turn, drives better patient and organizational outcomes.

And the key to adopting this approach? A modern, hyper-connected talent development platform.

Beyond Compliance: Engaging Employees Through Workplace Learning

The learning and development (L&D) needs of the healthcare industry differ dramatically from those of other businesses. Faced with a host of unique regulatory challenges, many healthcare organizations tend to focus employee training on ensuring compliance. And while compliance-based training is essential in a healthcare environment for obvious reasons, progressive organizations are moving beyond simply “checking the box” when it comes to training, instead leveraging L&D as a strategic differentiator.

Achieving true employee engagement that leads to team development and better organizational outcomes goes beyond compliance; it’s more than "training for training's sake.” Even in the highly regulated healthcare arena, for employees to see the value of learning, they need to see how it can impact their career path and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Unfortunately, too many organizations still view learning and performance as separate entities. But if learning isn’t moving the needle on performance, what’s the point?

Making The Connection Between Learning And Performance

For high-performing organizations, learning is not the outcome—it is the behavior that drives performance. Metrics like course completion rates and course grades can tell you how staff is responding to your learning content, but they don't give you any insights into how learning is actually impacting individual or organizational performance.

Learning and performance management do not merely co-exist—they are dependent on one another. It’s why successfully linking learning activities to performance objectives is a crucial step in building a culture of engagement and excellence in any healthcare organization. And technology can help organizations keep this hyper-connection between learning and performance front and center.

Shaping Organizational Culture With Technology

Talent development technology that supports ongoing coaching, feedback and development can help you more effectively attract, retain and develop the next generation of healthcare workers. A continuous, connected platform that ties learning to performance and bring skills development into the goal-setting process is key to aligning, engaging, and inspiring your people to achieve the results that matter to your organization.

As Jeanne Bonzon, Director of Learning & Development at BJC HealthCare remarks, "Attracting and retaining a highly-engaged workforce is a strategic imperative for our organization. We need our talent to help us deliver on our mission to ‘make medicine better.’”

Breaking down the silo between employee development and performance management, talent management technology enables employees to develop smart, relevant learning paths that link their learning directly to individual performance, competencies and career goals. Employees can create career plans for the short, mid and long term based on their skills, interests, and aspirations. A talent development platform can then intelligently identify skill gaps, recommend learning courses, and identify internal mentors to the employee so they can proactively reach their goals and advance their career.

How Sunrise Senior Living Created A Culture Of Continuous Development

Sunrise Senior Living is just one of the many healthcare providers moving toward talent development technology to transform their talent practices. The residential care provider—employing more than 26,000 workers and supporting approximately 30,000 residents—has successfully created a culture of continuous, connected learning and development for its front-line employees through the use of technology.

Using a hyper-connected talent development platform that gives its people and teams the ability to drive their own experience—while also keeping them aligned to the organization’s performance goals—Sunrise is able to continuously develop all its team members, helping them grow, for example, from a care manager to a lead care manager. The organization can identify key succession candidates and build a development roadmap to get them to where they need to be in a set time frame. The platform automates these processes and delivers Sunrise an organic growth experience from blended learning to ongoing performance coaching.

And the proof is in the numbers: A recent analyst study found that the talent development platform delivered a staggering 1,043 percent return on investment for Sunrise Senior Living.

The Future Of Learning And Development In Healthcare

Taking a holistic approach to employee learning and development—and leveraging talent development technology to create a hyper-connected talent experience—is the key to engaging employees, driving better patient outcomes, and achieving healthier bottom-line results. By connecting learning to performance, today’s healthcare organizations can cultivate a culture of performance excellence, driven by a truly engaged workforce.

About The Author

As the Principal Product Manager, Customer Success in Saba's Strategic Services group, Anita draws on over 20 years' experience in consulting and professional services to help HR leaders recruit, engage, develop and retain their talent. Anita has been published in HR Daily Advisor and HRO Today, featured in an interview on BBC Capital and presented at DisruptHR Ottawa, Saba Insight and Halogen TalentSpace Live. Although she's worked with hundreds of organizations from IT to healthcare, Anita never loses sight of what HR is really about: people. Anita loves helping organizations manage performance so people are more engaged, happier and productive.