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Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian

September 21-22, 2020

The Intercontinental, Chicago, Illinois

“As Covid-19 began in the US, we saw the demand for nurse cross-training rise dramatically,” according to Trisha Coady, SVP Clinical Solutions, HealthStream. “To be in a constant state of readiness and ensure all nurses are equally competent, Chief Nursing Officers will need to leverage technologies that can individualize competency plans at scale,” she suggests.          

HealthStream is a service provider at the marcus evans National Healthcare CNO Summit Fall 2020, taking place in Chicago, September 21-22. 

What is the key opportunity in healthcare that Covid-19 has exposed?

As Covid-19 began in the US, we saw the demand for nurse cross-training rise dramatically. Given up to 20 percent of healthcare workers could become infected and hospitals were likely to become overwhelmed, organizations needed to quickly identify what nurses could most easily be cross-trained and determine what amount of training was enough. Although Chief Nursing Officers had always considered development of frontline staff as critical, it was a challenge for many to secure the necessary resources to ensure they were equipped to practice at their full potential.

When a public health emergency occurs that disrupts nearly all aspects of the healthcare delivery system, most organizations will prioritize the needs of those who deliver care. This is because the risk or reward grows the closer you get to the patient. The key opportunity I see given the low cost of deployment and potential for widespread return is to rethink how we develop nurses.

What challenges do you think healthcare leaders face ensuring their frontline staff are prepared for another pandemic?

Before Covid-19, I had spoken to a number of CNOs who saw a tremendous opportunity to provide broader and more sustainable outcome improvement across several areas in healthcare. We discussed how this would require an individualized and ongoing approach to competency development, as well as a focus on critical thinking to ensure knowledge and skills were being applied more consistently into practice. At present, we see point-in-time initiatives that will generate meaningful improvement initially, though will regress as time progresses, challenging organizations’ already limited margins.

The primary obstacle was how this could be operationalized given time and resources are such precious commodities in healthcare. We know in most other industries, the average span of control is ten versus 40 for a typical nurse manager. Perhaps more than any other industry, healthcare must look at leveraging innovative technologies and automation.

Whether it is Covid-19 or another major healthcare issue, it would face similar challenges and require a similar, scalable approach.  

How are you leveraging Artificial Intelligence to advance human development?

The genesis of any effective solution often comes from a collection of experiences and intelligence gathered from a community of like-minded people. Having a more complete awareness of what problem we are trying to solve should always come before any technology selection. We knew many leaders did not want to be using blanket education or transactional learning methods that are often void of learner engagement. We really needed to create an intelligent matchmaking system between nurses and content that also appreciated the unique workflows within complex healthcare organizations.

We acquired two nurse-led assessment firms that had a combined 40 years of data and experience. Our teams developed a proprietary clinical taxonomy that triangulated student information, assessment outcomes, and development content to create individualized learning paths. For critical thinking, we felt strongly this could not be achieved through multiple choice and should replicate real-life. This is why we leveraged artificial intelligence and natural language processing, engaging nurses in scenarios through a chat interface.

Leaders and educators would be able to quickly identify top performers versus those who required additional support through individual and aggregate assessment results. Effectively, we created an intelligent system that identifies nurses’ competency gaps and recommends personalized development plans at scale. Given the ability to approach competency development as a continuous process, this allows organizations to be in a constant state of readiness with their frontline staff.

Any final comments?

While many things will change as a result of Covid-19, one thing that will remain the same is that nurses have been and will always be at the bedside 24-7 providing care. To be in a constant state of readiness and ensure all nurses are equally competent, Chief Nursing Officers will need to leverage technologies that can individualize competency plans at scale. My hope is that we will see greater investment in developing next level people with systems that appreciate the complexities of our healthcare environment.

Trisha Coady

SVP Clinical Solutions


Why Healthcare Organizations Must Automate 
Nurse Cross-Training Before the Next Pandemic

Ahead of the marcus evans National Healthcare CNO Summit Fall 2020
Trisha Coady discusses the need to ensure all nurses are equally competent, 
and how it can be achieved in an under-resourced environment

Copyright © 2020 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

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About HealthStream 

As healthcare organizations seek ways to do more with less, developing next-level people is integral to their success. HealthStream works side-by-side with healthcare organizations to ensure their people are confident, competent and credentialed, ready to execute at the highest level.

HealthStream is the #1 advisor for human development to the healthcare industry, working with 4,000+ healthcare organizations for the past 25 years to cultivate a more proficient and energized workforce. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, HealthStream has additional offices in Jericho, New York; Boulder; Colorado; Denver, Colorado; San Diego, California; and Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please visit 

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About the National Healthcare CNO Summit Fall 2020

The 22nd National Healthcare CNO Summit is the premium forum bringing senior level nursing executives and solution providers together. The Summit offers an intimate environment for a focused discussion of key new drivers shaping the healthcare industry. Taking place at The Intercontinental, Chicago, Illinois, September 21-22, the Summit includes presentations on examining COVID-19 response, strengthening the workforce in a nursing shortage era, new technologies that impact healthcare, and understanding what quality healthcare means.