The healthcare industry faces great adversity with the current and future state of the economy. In 2009, the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 50.7 million, an increase of 4.4 million people. That was the highest annual increases since data collection began in 1987 ("Health Care Reform", 2010). The number of uninsured grew in the U.S. to 52 million in 2010, according to a study released by the Commonwealth Fund (The Common Wealth Fund, 2010). With this significant industry challenge as well as new healthcare guidelines ahead, the importance of aligning organizational outcomes with the future state of healthcare is a vital part of organizations' long term success. The transitional state of the industry calls for providers to implement strategies to effectively manage the knowledge of an organization to establish and sustain a competitive advantage.
Research in knowledge management and training development has established tangible methods for deploying different workplace strategies. Literature dates back several decades; Frederick Taylor (1911) formulated experiences and tacit skills into a structured framework for industry use. Edith Penrose (1959) touched upon the importance of experience and knowledge that is accumulated within the firm by its employees. Today, notable strategic theory for creating value within an organization includes knowledge creation, transfer and utilization. Within these organizational processes, there are a number of actions that allow for leveraging this knowledge in order to create and sustain a competitive advantage.
Training and technology
Laboratory managers must look at their facility's intangible assets with the same importance as the tangible assets. The people (intangible assets) will be the driving force for establishing a competitive advantage. In this same vein, as organizations strive towards increased innovation and efficiency within different business functions, the same vigor should be applied to people. Effective training strategies will be a key investment for sustaining a competitive advantage. Properly developed and implemented training programs will allow for effective knowledge creation, transfer and utilization across all business units. This will create an accumulation and abundance of knowledge resources that will be unique to the organization's learning and experiences.
The increased importance of healthcare innovation has been related to the globalization of markets and the advent of advanced technologies that enable more rapid product design (Schilling, 2010). The need for continuous innovation can be seen in multiple facets of an organization, which include product innovation, process innovation, competence innovation and architectural innovation.
Effective training strategies that focus on an organization's intangible assets will significantly impact the competitive advantage. Within a training strategy in today's business world, technology must be a major consideration. The reduced cost and increased capabilities of computer technology has triggered significant increases in the delivery of computer instruction, which includes computer based training, web based training, multimedia learning environments and e-learning (Brown, 2001). This advancement in technological training has provided organizations a unique opportunity to focus on increased training of the people in their different business functions while not sacrificing the abundant amount of resources required for training strategies in the past. This opportunity in technological innovation is now allowing organizations to provide more training across all boundaries of an organization. This has significant implications for imaging departments and the multi-million dollar physical assets that must be operated properly at all times. A greater commitment from imaging leaders in development of an innovative training strategy will allow organizations to ensure that knowledge creation, transfer and utilization is maximized and efficient at all levels of the organization.
See One, Do One, Teach One?
The implications for practice of the information presented can have a profound impact on organizations looking to adapt processes and functions that will affect organizational outcomes. When developing a training program strategy, it is important for healthcare leaders to consider the significance of knowledge creation, transfer and utilization within the unique structure of their organization. Gone are the days of the old training notion of "see one, do one, teach one." This antiquated philosophy towards training can no longer be an acceptable description for an organization's training strategy. Training with regards to the intangible assets of an organization need to be prioritized and considered with the same significance of other business strategies that are put in place by executive leadership.
Technological innovation has made the advancements to allow for effective and efficient learning across boundaries. In addition, scholarly research continues to support the investment in appropriate learning and development strategies for organizations. So, it can easily be said that investment in training strategies as well as utilization of technological innovation is a critical factor for successful business outcomes. As the healthcare industry strives to streamline operations by leveraging technology and innovation, the people of the organization can ill afford to be the recipients of substandard training.
Darin Tankersley is the Assistant Director of Imaging Services, South Sacramento Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente.
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