Why Graduate Medical Education Programs Need to Leverage Online Collaboration

Healthcare Organizations Are Struggling to Keep Pace With Complex GME Programs and Successfully Support Clinicians

Graduate Medical Education or “GME” refers to any type of formal medical education, usually hospital-sponsored or hospital-based training, pursued after receipt of the M.D. or D.O. degree in the United States. This education includes internship, residency, subspecialty and fellowship programs and leads to state licensure and board certification (AMA). And it’s no secret that organizations need a better way to foster GME to help clinicians develop knowledge and experience across complex health system environments. Better collaboration can lead to better opportunities, and leaders are trying to find out how to make these these conversations and partnerships happen across health systems. Research has suggested that social learning can effectively integrate public health-oriented training into clinical residency programs (AJPH).

In the healthcare industry, having relevant, timely and accurate information is vital, and social learning provides the conduit to ensure information is just that

Integrated Social Learning

Integrated health learning communities can serve as a bridge for clinicians to learn on a variety of subjects. This includes complementing traditional hands-on clinical practice with on-demand learning, plus giving clinical leaders the ability to share expertise across GME programs. Recent studies have shown evidence that integrating traditional approaches with technology-enhanced teaching has the potential to improve clinical competencies among health students. These innovations include:

  • Collaboration among medical schools to develop massive, open online courses for content
  • Faculty working in small groups to leverage online content
  • Digital badges for credentialing professional activities over the continuum of learning (AAMC)

How does a health system begin down this path? It all starts by partnering with IT.

Healthcare and IT

Healthcare organizations and their IT should have the same goal: To create an interactive community that drives rapid adoption by all of the clinicians and business teams

Healthcare organizations and their IT should have the same goal: To create an interactive community that drives rapid adoption by all of the clinicians and business teams invited to participate. When successfully implemented, these communities can keep clinicians up-to-speed on evolving clinical best practices, inform operational concerns and critical systems, such as electronic health records (EHR) and support care coordination among internal clinical teams and external partner organizations.

To reach this goal, Healthcare IT Innovation teams should consider a wide range of products and select their platform based on its ease of use, functionality and simplicity. A strong platform is one that is straightforward, engaging and system agnostic, allowing clinicians to start using it immediately, regardless of the type of device or applications they use. For example, an interactive intranet or support community can reduce the work clinicians must put into the GME education process, paying off with saved time and efficiency.

For IT, the benefits are straightforward: Integrated health learning communities are easy to set up and manage. IT can also use communities to support clinicians by informing them in a timely matter of critical news and updates on systems (Trinity Health). For the majority of organizations, they can replace the archaic “poster board” messaging or email distribution that is delayed or may even be out of date by the time it is seen.

And for clinicians, participation, engagement and collaboration are crucial. A recent research study has shown that evidence-based learning programs that used “storytelling” as the learning framework clearly indicated learners and stakeholders felt authentically “connected” with the characters in the stories and developed insights that suggested effective learning had occurred (Collegian). This means that the “real life experiences” of people in a format such as blogs, and discussions, involving real people are more likely to drive learning and adoption of clinical policies than standard reading material. In short, online learning platforms that offer this type of community engagement and/or participation should be held in a higher regard than traditional learning platforms.

The Future Is Online Collaboration

With overwhelming evidence, the future of learning for GME is online collaboration—and collaboration calls for an interactive intranet. With the right platform, you are free to build best practices, mine for knowledge, provide a better learning experience and allow easy access to the resources around you. Engaging clinicians through learning leads to higher quality adoption of new ideas and lower costs than traditional training methods.

Unleash the power of your clinicians. Allow them to collaborate beyond the borders of their practice and to educate each other in a welcoming online community built around the most important piece of graduate medical education: themselves.

Today, there are more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet
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