My Experience at ASSE Safety 2017


The American Society of Safety Engineers [ASSE] conducted their 56th annual conference, Safety 2017 from 19-22 June at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The conference had over 650 exhibitors from across the globe.  5,000 safety professionals, health and safety leaders, key decision makers, safety consultants from 40 countries came together to share their expertise in risk management, industrial safety, industrial hygiene, and more.  With over 300 speaker sessions and events, the conference was a unique opportunity for professionals in the safety domain.

There were various types of organizations exhibiting at the conference; which could be categorized as:

  1. PPE Products – This category included organizations providing safety glasses, safety footwear, hard hats, clothing, glasses and gloves.
  2. Health and Safety Products – Organizations providing fall protection devices, safety ropes manufacturers, chemical safety devices.
  3. Universities, Publishers and Associations – Organizations across the USA who provide accreditation programs on health and safety.
  4. Training organizations – These included eLearning catalog companies, onsite training providers and training marketplaces.

I attended the conference on behalf of the Harbinger Interactive Learning team, and tried to understand the role online learning plays in health and safety training. Here are my key observations from the conference:

  1. Popularity of Onsite Training – Though there are many successful online training catalog providers in the health and safety space, onsite training is still the most popular method to deliver training.
  2. Learning on Handheld Devices – Many of the training catalog providers have their training content in Adobe Flash or PDF formats, however, they seem to be warming up to the idea of providing training through handheld devices like tablets and smart-phones.
  3. Virtual and Augmented Reality in Health and Safety – Virtual and augmented reality seem to be the next big thing in the health and safety training domain.

Safety 2017 provided me with the opportunity to interact with various health and safety training providers and also gave me an insight into the evolution of safety training over the last few years. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this conference and came back better-informed on the role training plays in the health and safety domain. Did you attend this conference? What were your key takeaways? Share through comments below.

Digitization of Medical Affairs

Medical Affairs

“Medical affairs” describes a function, typically in a life sciences organization, that interacts with both external and internal stakeholders of the company. It is the broad term that describes the department within a pharmaceutical or medical device company that interacts with physicians and other healthcare professionals who utilize or are involved with research related to the company’s products.

Medical Affairs acts like a bridge between medical and commercial groups in the company and the markets. Examples of Medical Affairs’ functions include:

  • Managing key thought-leader relationships
  • Publishing data from corporate-sponsored trials
  • Presenting educational information about a product or therapeutic landscape
  • Answering questions from healthcare providers regarding product safety or efficacy that is not addressed in a product’s label
  • Supporting research initiatives outside labeled indications for marketed products

As one can imagine, the above tasks are very time consuming and complicated. Since digitizing all these tasks can save considerable time and yet make a powerful impact on the audience, it is of utmost importance that organizations create a digital strategy around these. Below are some pointers on how this can be achieved.


Medical Affairs is a group entirely focused on internal and external communication. Since no one likes to read plain PDFs on product information or any other communication any longer, the group needs to incorporate ways to make communication interesting.

Here are some digital objects that can be deployed to make medical communication better:

  • Medical animations
  • Interactive e-books
  • Healthcare videos
  • Medical games
  • Healthcare apps

Product Launch

A successful product launch in today’s competitive and regulated marketplace is highly dependent on value-based and science-driven decision making. In such a scenario, the Medical Affairs function plays an important role, beginning right from the pre-launch phase and extending well beyond the launch date.

Critical aspects that Medical Affairs leaders need to focus on during launch are early stage thought leader (TL) interaction, successful TL targeting, alignment of commercial training to demands of key stakeholders and launch resource management.

eLearning can play a huge role into supporting the product launches in pharmaceutical companies. The training that is tied to a product launch is essential to empowering the sales staff with the right message to deliver at the right time. Following are some of the ways in which eLearning can be utilized in a successful product launch:

  • Create sales-readiness educational content for the sales reps
  • Create short, bite-sized infomercials
  • Disease and disease-state based learning content
  • Medical 3D animations to make the material visually attractive

Educational Material

Medical Affairs also deals with the creation and training of educational material for existing and upcoming products. A major part of this education happens in the classrooms.

Replacing this classroom training which mostly contains PDF/PPT based material, with digital interactions, can be a very effective way to expedite most communication and product related activities of Medical Affairs.

This can be achieved by a few different ways, including:

  • Realistic simulations
  • Branching and decision-making scenarios
  • Compliance training
  • Medical animations
  • Serious game-based learning

Putting it All Together

Though medical affairs is a very vast field and not all its functions can be covered in one article, the above examples should give a good idea of how the digital transformation of Medical Affairs can help a life sciences organization to make the most of its resources by saving money, effort, and time.

Harbinger Interactive Learning is a digital content development company. We are able to offer cost effective creative solutions with resources across different technologies and skillsets. A partnership with Harbinger can certainly help you build high quality digital pharma content cost effectively and stretch your development capabilities further. 

Please get in touch with to schedule a time to discuss your digital content development plans.


Can Authoring Tools Become Your Differentiator?

When working in a custom eLearning development company and interacting with prospects, one often faces this curious question, “What is your differentiator?”


The answer to this is usually framed around the following points:

  1. Years of experience
  2. Design innovation
  3. Domain knowledge
  4. Instructional design capability
  5. Cost effectiveness

Development technologies, specifically authoring tools, usually don’t appear in the differentiator list. But the way authoring tools have evolved over the last couple of years, I feel they definitely deserve a place in the list. However, it is only possible if you know how to use these tools creatively and customize the output to make it unique.  Here are some quick ways of looking at it:

  1. Challenge the tool – Don’t just be happy with the basic features that the tool offers; explore the tool and discover ways to create unique solutions. Every tool has a strong developer community to help you with your discoveries.
  2. Tool limitation is just an excuse – Most of the times stating that the authoring tools have limitations is just an excuse. There could be few “not so obvious” solutions; however, there are workarounds to almost everything.
  3. Look for creativity – You cannot make the most of the tool if you are concentrating only on the tool functionalities. Look at it not just as a development tool but as a design aid as well.
  4. Select the tool wisely – Select the most appropriate tool based on your requirements; not every tool is fit for every situation.

Modern day authoring tools are not just for rapid development, but they can provide creative, unique, and cost-effective solutions. So go ahead, make them the differentiators for you.

What do you think? Share your comments.

Digital Learning Objects – An Interesting Approach to Deliver Engaging Learning Experiences

One of Harbinger’s most interesting offerings has been Digital Learning Objects (DLOs). Harbinger aims to serves its customers’ digital, blended or ILT requirements through creation of DLOs that can be used independently or as part of larger learning experiences.

Digital Learning Objects

We have an interesting case study that demonstrates Harbinger’s expertise at creating DLOs for the publishing business of one of the world’s largest universities. This high stake, high visibility project required Harbinger to develop multiple DLOs that were platform and device agnostic. Read more here.

And if you are curious to know more about DLOs, then here is what they are: They are self contained digital pieces which comprise of brief stand-alone units like interactive videos, game based assessments, simulations, presentations, tests, brainteasers, etc. These DLOs can be used to convey information, enable interactions through games, illustrate concepts, reinforce learning, tell stories, enable practice, etc. Know more about DLOs here.

Have you used DLOs in your learning experiences? How was your experience? Share through comments below.

A Video Speaks a Million Words


It’s currently 3 °C in New York City and only getting colder! I make sure the heater in my office is working as it should be before Rachel comes in for the meeting.

“Good morning, Rachel! Nice to have you here!”

“Morning, Steve! Good to see you again.”

I know Rachel from my university days. We had not been in touch till I bumped into her last week at a conference in Toronto.

I own a digital communications agency in Manhattan and Rachel had set up time with me to discuss how her eLearning development company could help me with my business.

“So Steve, do you actively promote video development services to your clients?”

“Not really. It’s mostly the clients who come to us with a requirement. If they need video, we do that for them”.

“And have you thought of offering development of interactive videos to them?”

“Interactive videos? What are those? Aren’t videos just, well, videos?”

Rachel smiles  and says, “Well let’s start with telling you why you should be selling videos more, especially since your client base is all pharmaceutical companies. The healthcare industry, especially pharmaceuticals, uses a lot of videos in many activities. These could be promotional videos for their drugs, marketing videos, training videos, or videos for drug launch and so on. Adding video creation as one of your main offerings will certainly give you an edge over your competitors.”

“Makes sense. Great point!”

“Thank you! Our offshore team in India is skilled in creating engaging videos. Of course, you have seen the example of the hypoglycemia video we created for your competitor, Medical Communications. As you know, when it comes to conveying your message to the audience, video is one of the most effective media you can use. Also, video is a great attention grabber. If a video was available, most audience would opt to watch it before reading any text.”

“These are certainly some useful points for me to remember while speaking with my customers.”

“Indeed. Video can help deliver a consistent message each time. It’s also an easy way to strike personal connections with audience. Video content is social-media-friendly, thus easily shareable with increased level of engagement.”

“Couldn’t agree more with you!”

“Now let’s move to interactive videos. Interactive videos transform a traditional video experience from a monologue into a dialogue.”


“Interactive videos have the power to engage, turning viewers into participants.”

“This all sounds great. But how do you do it? Also, can you show me an example of an interactive video?”

“Absolutely! We have expertise into a few tools that can make videos interactive. One of them is Exaltive. Please check out this video to see what an interactive video looks like.”

“This is great stuff, Rachel! I know my clients will love this!”

“I know!. Interactive videos—with their power to turn viewer’s attention into engagement— build customer loyalty with personalized communication and boost sales.”

I am now working together with Rachel on proposing interactive video development to one of our biggest pharma clients.

I know it’s going to be a long term partnership with Rachel’s company.