Ebola is something that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues right now. What started as an epidemic in West Africa has now become an alarming outbreak that has come to the U.S.

As America’s healthcare workers are claiming a lack of training on the proper protocols and handling of Ebola, we have to look toward other global organizations and how they’ve implemented safety and medical training to their own teams who are in the hot zones, primarily in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

eLearning Plays a Significant Role in Today’s Global Health Landscape

One of the big ways globalized healthcare organizations are training their staff is through the use of eLearning.

The Challenges of Training Healthcare Workers

While Ebola is a unique situation here in America, it’s certainly not the only time nurses and healthcare providers have faced issues and concerns because of what they feel is a lack of training.

For the nurses and care providers in Dallas, there seemed to be a complete lack of standard procedures and protocols put in place, and that’s put a large number of staff members at risk, as well as people they’ve had contact with in the general public.

While Ebola may be new to the U.S., healthcare providers and training problems aren’t.

So why are the people on the front lines of providing the most important service in the world lacking the proper training in many instances?

While the reasons vary widely some of the common ones include a lack of time to dedicate to training, hospitals that are constantly tightening their belts in the wake of continual budget cuts and difficulty in standardizing training across multiple departments and a range of staff members with varying levels of experience and differing roles to play in the healthcare community.

Could eLearning Prevent Future Problems?

While there is certainly no magic answer as to how the situation in Dallas could have been prevented, there is a great deal of evidence suggesting eLearning is becoming the preferred method for training healthcare providers.

eLearning tackles many of the problems hospitals have when it comes to training their staff—it can be customized easily, it’s relatively inexpensive, it doesn’t require time be lost from the treatment of patients and it can be used on-demand.

We may not know for sure, but it’s possible if nurses had been equipped with on-demand mobile training on the proper protocols to handle an Ebola patient they may not have been exposed to the highly deadly disease. It would have been possible to access the information and training they needed at any time as they worked with this case that was at the time, unprecedented in the U.S.

Where It’s Already Being Done

The use of eLearning in the healthcare industry is picking up steam, but it certainly isn’t a brand new concept. Two large-scale global organizations that utilize eLearning for the training of employees and volunteers including Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Doctors Without Borders has a tremendous challenge when it comes to providing effective training because of the fact it’s a global organization with employees and volunteers who speak a myriad of languages and are located throughout the globe. They’ve specifically worked to create a range of eLearning including materials dealing with Ebola, and they often utilize a blending learning strategy for this type of training, in which students learn through multimedia modules and then are also instructed in-person with hands-on guidance.

WHO has created the Health Academy which currently provides users with access to 15 comprehensive multimedia learning courses, and the organization says they have three more in the process of being developed.

The World Health Academy also provides assessments that go along with their courses which include the “Knowledge Acquisition Questionnaire,” the “Attitudes and Behavior Survey Questionnaire,” and the “Students’ Feedback Questionnaire,” which is used by WHO to determine how clear, effective and user-friendly their courses are.

Again, while hindsight is 20-20, what’s been happening as America has begun tackling its first cases of Ebola could have potentially been remedied or at least aided by the use of more thorough training for nurses and all care providers on best practices.

As we look to global organizations charged with treating thousands of patients in environments that are harsher and more challenging than anything faced here in the U.S., healthcare organizations may begin taking a page from their training book as to how they guide care providers.