Elearning Strategies for the Healthcare Industry

 In Design, E-learning, Instructional Design

The healthcare industry consistently requires that its personnel undergo Continuing Education (CE)/Continuing Professional Education (CPE) training on a periodic basis. Compliance laws further require that a minimum hours of continuing or refresher education is logged with an LMS audit trail.

Getting your personnel abreast with the latest advances in healthcare science and technology requires a continual training emphasis on medical research and evidence based knowledge, updating processes and procedures to new findings, statistics, and reports, and upgrading personnel’s skills related to operating new enhanced technology. There needs to be an added emphasis on compliance training for healthcare laws and regulations, patient and medical personnel safety, and ethical practices at workplace. Elearning and Instructional Strategies though generic in prescription require specific application and intervention to the Healthcare industry. Before we proceed, let’s quickly summarize the key features of the healthcare industry’s learning audience and training content.


The prime learning audience of the healthcare include patients, physicians, registered nurses,  clinical and quality managers, and business executives.  Let’s review the key audience characteristics of the healthcare training departments.

1) Medical Personnel

–Highly trained personnel, spend years training and updating knowledge and skills

–Feel a high need for corroborative evidence for new knowledge

–May not always have a cleanly allocated time for training

2) Patients

–Often, in the senior age group

–Deteriorating health and emotional circumstances

–Mixed socio-economic demographic composition

–Cognitive skills may be limited or compromised



The Healthcare industry’s training content has a few recurrent themes; listed here are a few.

1) Etiology-specific training

2) Compliance training for FDA regulations/Insurance laws

3) Continuing education for registered nurses

4) Infection control and safety related policies and procedures

5) Healthcare devices and product training

6) Patient care practices and procedures


How is creating elearning for healthcare sector different?

Instructional Design

Instructional design for healthcare requires a clear demarcation of concepts and procedures and test the instructional designers skills in tying them up in a coherent operational body of content.  The instructional designer needs to create a sufficiently divergent range of examples to illustrate a concept and its application in procedures.

All research-based knowledge needs to be supported by citations and evidence. In the ever-changing world of medical science, previously learned knowledge acts to interfere with new knowledge, practices, and procedures. The citations and references to the evidence are important aspects overcoming the retroactive interference caused by previous learning.

With life and death consequences, most healthcare instruction is mission critical and implies a high need to negatively reinforce incorrect responses.  There has to be an added emphasis on avoiding confusing or unclear instructions; they might just result in unfavourable outcomes for patients.

The instructional designers need to work with subject matter experts to achieve simple messages without compromising clarity; there’s always a high premium on accuracy in healthcare instruction.

Graphic Design

Healthcare elearning is often, graphic heavy and diagram oriented; Graphic designers must  accentuate attention areas in graphic representation and avoid focus on details that hinder perception of attention areas. Stylization of graphics that focuses on contours results in better retention.

Interaction design

Elearning interactions for healthcare must be designed to allow learning by doing or problem solving; simulating procedures can enhance learner competence. Interaction design must allow decision making choices based on data available to the learner and provide feedback using authoritative and authentic sources. An elearning designer can exploit recurring themes as basis of interaction–themes such as medical record, laboratory, prescription, and treatment to rework the textbook-like content into an interactive theme with overtones of real-life application.


Providing immediate reinforcement, both positive and negative is critical. The feedback in Healthcare interactions needs to be situation-and-problem specific; decision choices need to be probable actions phrased as plausible distracters; and consequences of actions need to be illustrated to reinforce the appropriate action. For example, when creating an interactive game for registered nurses, it is important to have a “Consult the Doctor” function; it enables you to restrict the scope of activities to safety first. A great premium is placed on the understanding that a nurse “must” consult the doctor to determine “critical” decisions. Also, it is important to incorporate diagnostics and have the learners respond to available evidence.

To conclude, instructional design and elearning development for the healthcare industry requires a greater awareness of the audience, the subject matter, and the environment for which the training is devised.

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