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The Evolving Landscape of Learning and Development in Healthcare

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Will Bladon, Digital Skills Lead at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, shares his thoughts on the landscape of learning and development in 2023 and what some of the biggest barriers to effective learning are.


In the fast-paced world of healthcare, the need for continuous learning and development has never been more critical.

As medical advancements, technologies, and protocols evolve, healthcare professionals must stay updated on the latest knowledge and skills to provide the best possible care to their patients.

In this blog post, Will Bladon from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust explores the current state of learning and development (L&D) in healthcare and delves into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The importance of lifelong learning

With healthcare being an ever-evolving field, lifelong learning is crucial for professionals.

However, traditional methods of learning, such as lengthy classroom sessions, can be time-consuming and may not provide the flexibility needed in today's demanding healthcare environment.

To address these challenges, healthcare organisations are increasingly turning to technology-enabled learning solutions. 

Embracing technology in education

Digital learning tools, such as learning management systems (LMS), online modules, and simulations, have revolutionised the way healthcare professionals acquire and update their skills.

These technology-driven methods offer flexibility, interactivity, and accessibility, allowing professionals to learn at their own pace and convenience. E-learning also enables the use of multimedia elements, making complex medical concepts easier to understand and retain.

At Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, we've created a user-focussed learning management system with Think Learning. Using Totara's basecode, we have built a solution to help make learning more efficient.

The role of learning management systems

LMS platforms in healthcare play a pivotal role in managing and delivering training programs. They provide a centralised hub for organising courses, tracking progress, and assessing competency.

Moreover, LMS platforms enable healthcare organisations to incorporate personalised learning pathways, tailoring training to individual needs.

As a result, professionals can focus on areas where they need further development, optimising their learning experience.

Measure your impact

Often a lot of focus for L&D is being able to measure the impact of training.

While compliance and attendance are important, the real value lies in looking at how learning impacts patient care and safety.

The LMS plays a key role in helping us capture both the completion of learning, and the outcomes of this. By capturing measurable results we are able to get a better understanding of both the impact and effectiveness of training.

Meeting compliance requirements

Compliance is a crucial aspect of any learning management system (LMS) in a healthcare setting. It ensures that regulatory standards and patient safety protocols are met, providing a critical foundation for healthcare workers to deliver the best possible care.

One of the key ways to ensure healthcare compliance is to provide accessible and easy-to-understand information to healthcare professionals.

Compliance dashboards, for example, can help healthcare workers identify areas where their knowledge or skills may be out of date, enabling them to address those gaps and upgrade their training accordingly.

Making compliance simple, accessible, and accurate not only ensures that healthcare professionals are equipped with the latest information and protocols but also helps to foster a culture of safety and excellence in the healthcare setting.

Putting design at the heart

Design and user experience are critical components of any learning management system (LMS) in a healthcare setting.

A well-designed and user-friendly LMS creates an engaging and positive learning experience, making it more likely that healthcare professionals will engage with and successfully complete their training.

Cluttered and confusing interfaces can be off-putting and detract from the learning experience, leading to frustration and disengagement.

A well-designed LMS, on the other hand, can enhance the overall training experience, making learning easier, more enjoyable, and more accessible.

By placing design and user experience at the core of LMS development, healthcare organisations can deliver an effective and efficient training experience that sets their healthcare professionals up for success.

Anytime, anywhere learning

The ability for healthcare professionals to access their learning management system (LMS) anytime, anywhere is a significant advantage in the healthcare industry.

By providing remote access to the LMS, healthcare professionals can engage in continuous learning and professional development at their convenience. This flexibility allows them to fit their training into their busy schedules, whether it's during breaks, after work hours, or even during periods of downtime.

This anytime, anywhere access also eliminates the constraints of physical location, making training accessible to healthcare professionals across different departments, locations, and even countries.

With this level of accessibility, healthcare professionals can stay updated on the latest medical advancements, protocols, and best practices, ensuring they provide the highest quality of care to patients and continuously enhance their skills and knowledge.

Addressing barriers to learning

While the benefits of L&D in healthcare are clear, there are still barriers that need to be addressed.

Time constraints, heavy workloads, and the pressure to deliver patient care often leave little room for dedicated learning.

Healthcare organisations must prioritise and provide dedicated time for professionals to engage in ongoing development.

Additionally, offering incentives for participation and recognising the value of continuous learning can help motivate professionals to overcome these barriers.

Lack of time

One of the biggest barriers to better learning, especially in healthcare where mandatory training is prevalent, is a lack of time. While everyone wants to learn, mandated learning can be seen as a burden.

However, it is crucial to consider the impact of this training. By being able to quantify the time it takes for mandatory training and the positive outcomes it brings, we can justify its importance. 

Digital literacy and skills

Another barrier is digital literacy and skills. In a world where technology is omnipresent, it is impossible to escape it.

However, people have varying levels of skills in using digital tools. Some individuals excel in this area, while others may not be interested in acquiring digital skills. There is a risk of these individuals getting left behind.

To overcome this, it is important to ensure that technology is accessible to all, with user-friendly interfaces and actual accessibility measures in place.

Addressing these barriers is crucial for improving learning outcomes and ensuring that everyone has equal access to the necessary skills and knowledge. By understanding the impact and providing accessible learning opportunities, we can break down these barriers and create a more inclusive learning environment.

Future possibilities

As we look to the future, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and augmented reality (AR) hold immense potential for transforming healthcare L&D.

These technologies can enhance training experiences, enable personalised learning pathways, and provide real-time performance feedback to healthcare professionals.

Furthermore, interactive platforms like chatbots can serve as virtual mentors, answering questions and providing guidance anytime, anywhere.


The state of learning and development in healthcare has become increasingly dynamic, with technology playing a pivotal role in enhancing educational experiences.

By embracing digital learning tools, healthcare professionals can receive ongoing training that is accessible, engaging, and tailored to their individual needs.

As the field of healthcare continues to evolve, it is crucial that organisations prioritise L&D initiatives to ensure that L&D teams are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to provide the best possible care to their patients.

By investing in continuous learning, we can foster a culture of excellence and cultivate a passionate workforce committed to advancing healthcare for all.