Posted: 22 Mar. 2022 12 min. read

The Future of Learning in Health Care

Cultivating a Holistic & Innovative Learning Approach to Engage Caregivers in Health Care

By Matt Stevens, Jordan Skowron, Emily Rubin, Jennifer Nelson

Health Care is no longer just about treating patients. In fact, one might argue that how organizations treat their Caregivers is equally as important as the care delivered to patients. After all, we’ve seen how investing in the Caregiver Experience has shown to be valuable to organizations:

  • Organizations in the top quartile of Caregiver Experience are typically 25% more profitable than competitors in the bottom quartile1
  • Organizations that built a seamless and innovative caregiver experience show double the customer satisfaction reflected in their net promoter score2

One area that can drive Caregiver Experience in Health Care today is through Learning and Development (L&D) opportunities. Health Care organizations have been silently struggling with workforce challenges for decades and are facing a critical inflection point to transform. Opportunities for career development and mobility are key in supporting and sustaining the workforce. By revamping traditional approaches to learning Health Care organizations can expand career and growth opportunities for the Care Team, which can help maximize their potential as a system to deliver the highest quality care.

Unique Educational Needs are Complicated Due to Health Care Complexities

The ability for Health Care providers to administer safe, effective, quality care is reliant upon their commitment to lifelong learning. This commitment is critical for all Caregivers, no matter the medical specialty or stage in career. However, the rapidly evolving Health Care industry can make it challenging for Health Care providers to fulfill this commitment and is due to a variety of factors.

Uncertainty and the likelihood of large-scale change in talent needs are causing Health Care organizations to re-evaluate how they approach learning. An agile organization is designed with the human experience in mind, putting talent needs at the forefront and capitalizing on its greatest asset. Skills-based, experiential learning is the key to organizational agility and retention in Health Care and re-architecting work is the path to get there.

A Holistic, Skills-based Approach to Learning Can Be A Solution to the Problem

Health Care organizations must implement a holistic workforce development approach based on the skills needed to meet these unique business demands.3 Furthermore, 72% of executives surveyed in the 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, state the ability of their people to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles as one of the most important factors in navigating future disruptions.4 We recommend three ways Health Care organizations can reinvent traditional learning models and overcome the typical barriers to career development in Health Care:

  1. Re-architecting work to create capacity for career development
  2. Transforming into a Skills-Based Organization that emphasizes Enduring Human Capabilities 
  3. Restructuring their L&D program around the “4 E’s” learning model

To tackle the unique learning needs in Health Care and proactively address the rapidly changing landscape, we need to embrace the evolving learning methods that exist from a worker-centric perspective. A myriad of effective solutions can be customized for the specific learning needs and culture of an organization.

Re-architecting work to prioritize learning & capabilities. Health Care organizations can reimagine work by leveraging technology to unlock human potential and transform patient care. This can create the capacity for caregivers to spend more time at the bedside and feel empowered to take charge of their career trajectory through an increase in value, meaning, and capacity. On average, it takes 5-7 years to achieve major change in an organization and the Health Care industry is even slower to adopt new ways of working.5 Therefore, it is critical to prioritize blended learning experiences in a way that best aligns with the daily flow of work and re-architecting work can speed up that process.

Work Re-architected (WrA) deliberately makes technology part of the workflow, augmenting the work in a way that connects tools, processes, and practices, breaking down silos and optimizing the balance of the human capabilities required for innovative Health Care workers, while simultaneously sustaining profit for the organization. Integrated systems and processes enable caregivers to focus elsewhere, eliminating unnecessary administrative tasks.

Emphasizing Enduring Human Capabilities in a Skills-Based Organization. In addition to the need for greater capacity, workforce skills and capability needs are rapidly changing, and organizations are not prepared. 54% of the workforce will require significant upskilling and reskilling in the next 5 years, especially those in Health Care.6 Skills are shifting to focus more on the worker – the human side of work that drives continual adaptiveness for the business and a meaningful experience at work.

While WrA deconstructs and reconstructs a body of work to leverage human capabilities and technology, Skills-Based Organizations (SBO) look holistically at the workforce to tap into skills that leaders were previously unaware of. It helps the HR function transition workforce management from role-based job requirements to skills-based requirements that are aligned to the business strategy. For example, emotional intelligence is an Enduring Human Capability (EHC) and core leadership competency essential for social awareness and the ability to successfully lead others through Health Care transformation. The growing complexities in Health Care such as a multigenerational workforce or interdisciplinary care require EHCs and an organizational structure that harnesses those skills.

The 4 E’s to career development in Health Care. Now that we understand how to pave the way towards learning in Health Care and what to focus on, what does the application look like? Over the past several years, learning across industries has evolved from structured courses and programs that start and end at points in time, to continuous life-long learning that is embedded into the work itself. No longer is it simply utilizing learning technology to enable and support learning, it has become an ecosystem of accessible, flexible learning centered around the 4 E’s of learning: Education, Exposure, Experience, and Environment. The 4 E’s is a holistic approach to development that promotes “in-the-flow learning”.7

Caregivers value professional development that is a discrete, out of flow experience to demonstrate that learning is a priority that parallels patient care. This can be seen in formal Education such as classroom training, e-learning, and simulations but should only make up roughly 10% of a L&D program. Out of flow education showcases the worth of taking time away from the job to understand key learning objectives to walk away with valuable lessons learned. However, mature L&D teams are delivering 31% more of learning via on-the-job experiences or embedding learning into the daily flow of work as this is where 70% of successful development occurs with the most transfer of knowledge from the classroom.8 On-the-job experiences (i.e., the Experience component) can be stretch experiments, special projects, or job rotations, while some examples of in-the-flow learning (i.e., Environment) are micro-learning, online assets libraries, and learning experience platforms.

For a holistic learning solution, experiential learning embedded into the daily flow of work should be supplemented by Exposure. The remaining 20% of development comes from interactions and relationships at work that expose workers to new ways of thinking and doing (e.g., professional conferences, communities of practice, and coaching or mentoring). Leadership can lean on middle management to further develop critical EHCs through informal, on-the spot coaching and regular check-ins. This type of on-the-spot learning is easily personalized to fit the needs of the individual and the fast-paced schedule of a Health Care provider.


As the landscape in Health Care become increasingly complex and volatile, attrition amongst physician and nurses continues to threaten access to Health Care, and the rise in technology demands an agile, Skills-Based Organization, a holistic approach to learning is essential for Health Care to not only survive but thrive. Implementing a skills-based approach to learning can improve the Caregiver Experience by prioritizing lifelong learning. WrA, leveraging EHCs in a SBO, and the 4 E’s learning model are just a few ways to overcome barriers to career development in Health Care, address the unique learning needs, and embrace new learning methods such as learning in the flow of work.

Robust, and holistic L&D programs can drive Caregiver Experience and position leaders in Health Care to transform the way they deliver patient care. Health Care providers that are equipped with the appropriate skills to deliver strategic results and spend more time in meaningful interactions with their patients and teams ultimately improves the bottom line, community health, and the profession of Health Care.


  1. 2019 Global Human Capital Trends | Deloitte Insights
  2. Building Business Value with Employee Experience, MIT Cisr Research Briefing, Vol. 17, No. 6
  3. Beyond Reskilling: Investing in Resilience for Uncertain Future, David Mallon, Yves Durme, and Maren Hauptmann, Deloitte, 2020
  4. 2020 Global Human Capital Trends | Deloitte Insights
  5. How to Get Health Care Employees Onboard with Change, Harvard Business Review, 2016
  6. 2018 The Future of Jobs Report | World Economic Forum
  7. Creating Value and Impact through the Alternative Workforce, Michael Griffiths, Terry Patterson, Carly Ackerman, and Et al, Deloitte, 2020
  8. McCall, M. (2010). Recasting leadership development. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 3(1), 3-19. Doi:10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01189.x


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