The healthcare industry faces significant challenges – an aging population, a consistent increase in disease prevalence such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and a shortage of healthcare personnel. Hence, the business of healthcare has now become much more complex. While clinical skills are critical to providing quality care to patients, healthcare leadership is equally crucial to ensure healthcare facilities are equipped to provide such care.
When we look at healthcare systems, we see that they are composed of numerous groups, departments and subspecialties. Every healthcare facility has complex systems and deals with different disease areas. Management and organization of these systems require excellent health management skills to obtain maximum output from a multidisciplinary staff and a facility with multidisciplinary goals. Healthcare management and leadership skills, within this complex web of systems, are essential to ensure the hospital runs efficiency.
Healthcare education and training has changed quite significantly over the last few years. The primary factors driving this change include advancing technology, changing healthcare environment, changing role of healthcare professionals, limitations and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing medical science.
When it comes to healthcare education and training, various modalities are now being used to groom future healthcare professionals. These include online degree programs, simulation for procedural training, and even video technology for student and resident selection. Also, the adoption of technology for healthcare professional training is not limited to doctors and nurses but also those in the field of healthcare and hospital management. In addition, those involved in patient safety and quality improvement initiatives can now also obtain certificates and degrees online.
It is important to note that healthcare is a field where there is significant latitude in the use of technology within both the clinical and the learning environment. Most people, when they think of healthcare, immediately think of physicians and care staff, but there is much more to healthcare. The goal of healthcare education and those involved in the healthcare profession is to acquire knowledge and apply this knowledge to improve or maintain the health of individuals and the population. This means that the use of technology for healthcare training is useful for people who provide care (doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc.), those who develop drugs, those who need skills to use biological devices, those engaged in healthcare procedures, those who create and manage hospital support systems and those in healthcare management who ensure that these systems run smoothly.
With so many emerging issues in healthcare, future healthcare managers and leaders need proper education and training to be able to respond to these challenges effectively. Also, healthcare is no longer a field that can be limited to one geographical location. While healthcare services that are offered may country-specific, international guidelines and insights from global experts in healthcare is now a critical component of healthcare training. Diseases are becoming increasingly complex, but at the same time, treatment strategies and diagnostic modalities have become much more advanced. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is now becoming more integrated into healthcare. How can healthcare managers and leaders than not be equipped with the necessary skills?
With so much advancement in technology, those interested in pursuing a career in healthcare management do not necessarily have to attend a full-day, in-school program. Many professionals in this field have the desire to acquire practical experience along with theoretical knowledge.
There is no doubt that with the recent advancement in technology and the digital revolution, there has been a significant boom in the number of online healthcare learning opportunities. The role of digital literacy and online education in healthcare is likely to increase in the years to come because today, healthcare education is not limited to a teacher and a student. Healthcare management requires a broad vision where healthcare managers and leaders not only learn organizational and managerial skills, but they also understand that in this industry, patients and their families, the general public, healthcare regulatory agencies, healthcare providers, and scientists and researchers are all involved. With so much to learn from so many people, online learning platforms can be extremely efficient tools to enable input and feedback from multiple parties engaged in diverse roles whiten the healthcare sector.
Technological advancement is an inevitable reality of the digital age. In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have recognized the importance and efficiency of online tools and remote learning and working. Just because the world is facing a healthcare crisis does not mean healthcare education has to stop. In fact, the failure of many countries to effectively manage the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of dynamic leadership and management in healthcare. The only way these healthcare managers and leaders will be developed is through training and education. At the same time, there is no substitute for practical experience. Hence, online education can be the perfect solution to enable healthcare professionals, whether clinical or non-clinical, to work and study at the same time. Online learning has already become the modality of choice when it comes to degree programs. But as demand for healthcare professionals increases, this learning approach can help train and engage new and fresh minds so that they can learn, apply and improve existing healthcare systems.