Intersection of (Health) Care Management and Organizational Learning

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From a patient’s perspective, Care Management involves orchestrating the many, varied options for care delivery, which will then maximize the patient’s health.  In support of the Care Managers, the organization’s responsibility is to orchestrate the many, varied options that establish a continual learning environment, to maximize the Manager’s ability to deliver superior service.  This involves not only formal training; in fact, formal training only accounts for 10% or less of what the Care Manager needs to know to do their jobs well.  The other 90% comes through informal channels – largely, knowledge sharing among experts and peers.  This knowledge sharing is facilitated by practices that have emerged from the discipline known as Organizational Learning (OL).

A robust OL program is essential to the health of a provider organization.  The half-life of knowledge is approximately 2-3 years.  This rate of knowledge “turnover” demands that practitioners constantly refresh their knowledge and competencies.  Dynamic OL platforms and processes assist the practitioner in maintaining and increasing their skills.  Formal training is offered through webinars, colloquia, eLearning courses, instructor-led classroom experiences, and elsewhere.  Informal training occurs through mentoring, coaching, accessing on-line data sources (wikis, blogs, discussion forums, etc.), collaboration on the development of leading practices, taking stretch assignments, researching academic and industry knowledge bases, viewing on-demand video and audio broadcast replays, participating in after-action reviews and quality circles, and more.  These activities are especially important to intentionally support virtually among the population of Care Managers, as they often work remotely – outside of regular group sharing activities in an inpatient or ambulatory care facility.

Ultimately, OL improves the affordability of health care.  The “shadow costs” of variation of practice and replication of effort are significant.  The knowledge sharing activities of OL (delineated above) directly drive down variation and replication, driving these hidden costs out of the system of care.

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