Study: Online ED learning resources must clearly demonstrate value

Emergency department professionals were skeptical of efforts to use technology to enhance interprofessional education, according to a recent study.

With the time pressures and demanding workloads these healthcare workers face, anything new would have clearly demonstrated its value in improved care or workflow, according to the paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers found that workers tended to discuss issues with others in similar roles, leading to silos of information. They quote one worker as saying, "I just don't know what the value is in me learning from other people downstream or upstream of me. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that."

And although the study's respondents tended to prefer face-to-face discussions, workloads generally precluded that; additionally, they considered their personal time too precious to devote to it.

Among the technologies considered:

  • Webcasts: Though they can offer flexibility in access, they were seen as impersonal, unidirectional and workers cited limited access to computers in the ED
  • Discussion forums: Preferred over webcasts because they can be interactive and offer asynchronous participation; however, there were significant concerns about the privacy of patient information in online discussions
  • Knowledge archive: A website was considered the best solution as a centralized repository for information and documents critical to patient flow. Interactive components, such as a blog or discussion forum, could evolve from that, though questions were raised about who would maintain and update it

The authors urged caution in implementing such online resources.

"New opportunities must fill a clearly defined need, be value-added, and enhance clinical practice through consolidating and simplifying existing resources," they said.

However, a German study did find that apps that promote reflection--a type of informal learning on the job--boosted job satisfaction among hospital staff. The study's 21 employees from the Stroke Unit, in particular, indicated that they discussed their work as a team more often after using the apps.

A recently designed simulation game developed by Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, Baylor Scott & White Health and University of Texas at Dallas aims to teach doctors and nurses how to work more collaboratively and avoid conflicts in order to prevent dangerous or sometimes fatal miscommunications. The simulation teaches doctors and nurses to work together, helping them avert tense situations in the real world by playing them out in the game.

To learn more:
- read the research