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What if learning, doing, and sharing were one action in healthcare?

I have gotten a lot of great feedback on a blog post I wrote last summer on my person blog, ‘I tweet because it simplifies learning.’

In that post I talk about what I call the 3R’s of adult learning: recording, reexposure, and redistribution and I talk about how we must build a learning architecture for ourselves that supports each of the R’s. It is a great feeling to know that more and more people are thinking about how social technologies accomplish this and can support professional development and learning. And, I received a lot of great examples of what people see as the strengths and the weaknesses of their own learning architectures.

But as I talked with these folks about the 3R’s and as I learned about how they are trying to leverage these lessons as individual learners and across their organizations, it struck me that learning is only the beginning of the story that I tell in my book, #socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare and folks need to stay open to the critical necessity of connecting learning to action.

Both the book and my personal blog are intended to explore QI, or ‘quality improvement’ and therefore they focus on the need to move beyond learning and to begin to understand how new learning  and knowledge management models might support healthcare quality and performance.

Remember my basic hypothesis: by exploring the intersection of social learning and behavior change science we can make new strides in quality improvement and healthcare outcomes.

At the heart of the #SocialQI model is the idea that by connecting the act of learning, doing, and sharing we can build a better ‘rapid learning healthcare system.‘ When stated this concisely perhaps the model seems more approachable, and maybe that is part of the secret – the elements of the model are not in and of themselves disruptive, instead it is the unwavering commitment to connect the elements that changes the game and it is the new vision for how we connect them that some may see as disruptive.

In medicine, the acts of learning, doing, and sharing are almost never linked to one another. Each act is discreet. ‘Learning’ is largely seen as an individual endeavor. ‘Doing’ is complicated by a myriad of system-based complications. And ‘sharing’…well sharing has never really been a key element of medicine.

But what happens when we have the systems in place and the healthcare culture has shifted to the point that learning, doing, and sharing can all become one action? Or, at least, when connected learning, doing, and sharing become the expectation and the norm? We are getting closer and closer to answering these questions everyday. Each day new technologies are engineered and each day new structured models systems are being piloted. ArcheMedx has engineered one such model, I explore several others in the book, but there are hundreds more from which to learn.

Importantly, we each have a role in this progress, and this is the take-away message of this post: You must begin to consider how you and your teams are connecting the acts of learning, doing, and sharing. Find opportunities to do so. Report back to the community.

If I have learned anything in the past year as I conceived and developed the SocialQI model and as Joel and I conceived and launched ArcheMedX its that the best solutions almost always arise from the collective intelligence of the community (thereby proving my hypothesis).

My hope is that we can find enough passionate participants to drive the changes we need in the healthcare system, before the next time any of us need the healthcare system we are trying to change.

Brian S McGowan, PhD

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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