My Experience at ASSE Safety 2017

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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.

Communication

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 info@harbingerlearning.com 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?”

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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.

4 Ways to Say ‘No’ to Boring Compliance Courses

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“That compliance course was fun!”

How often have you heard learners say that? Well, hardly ever.

Compliance courses are a way of educating employees on rules, regulations and organizational policies that apply to an employee’s day-to-day job responsibilities. Compliance training is the top priority for all organizations; however, it doesn’t usually excite the learners. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when they hear about online compliance courses is “long hours of content download.” These courses remain in the to-do list of employees until the deadline to take them looms large. Though organizations need to ensure that employees complete these trainings, employees do not enjoy taking the courses and hence effective knowledge transfer doesn’t happen.

So how do you make compliance courses exciting in a way that can make the employees ‘want’ to take them rather than ‘have’ to? Here are four easy strategies that you can use.

  1. Assess your Learners

One type of design approach won’t be suitable for all your learners. Some learners would have taken the course earlier so they may prefer to look at only the new content. On the other hand, some learners could be beginners and need to go through the entire training. So, to devise an appropriate learning strategy that works best, assess all learners before providing them with the content. You can do this by creating a pre-test which will help determine if a learner needs only a part of the course or the entire training. You can then categorize the information as ‘must-know,’ ‘good-to-know’ and ‘nice-to-know,’ and use this to create effective design and development strategies.

  1. Create Smaller Content Bites

Often compliance training intimidates learners because of its duration. Creating small, bite-sized, stand-alone chunks as micro-learning nuggets will give learners the freedom of starting and completing the training as per their convenience. Learners can take the course while commuting or as a breather between their routine work tasks.

  1. Make it Device Friendly

Today, when everything is “mobile”, you can’t limit online learning to desktops only. Employees prefer training material that can be accessed on-the-go. Making compliance training accessible on mobile devices will help ease out the burden associated with it; learners don’t necessarily need to fit the courses during their workday but can complete them in their spare time.

  1. Make it Fun!

Think of ways to make the courses engaging and fun for learners. You can use one or a combination of the following strategies:

  • Adding a Character: Include a character or an avatar in your compliance course to make it more relatable, interactive, and engaging. Choose a character that learners can relate to and use it effectively to guide through the training material.
  • Adding Videos: Create an engaging experience by integrating videos that enhance/supplement the content. The videos can have senior management reinforcing the value of complying with policies, or can be created using illustrations or images and stylized text with a powerful audio narration.
  • Storytelling: Who doesn’t like stories? Stories have the power to stimulate interest and retention even in the case of compliance courses. Based on the sensitivity of the topic, you could create a fictional story and add characters that relate to the topic as well as the learners. Your stories can be humorous, surprising or emotional. A well-written story has the power to hook learners to any kind of course.
  • Adding Scenarios: Scenarios provide a realistic context to learners to help rehearse the relevant skills in a simulated environment. Create challenging scenarios that learners can connect with and think about “how they would react” to a given situation.
  • Gamifying it: We all love playing games. You could create informative games for your compliance courses that are also relevant to the training context. Include activities and tasks for learners that they must perform, keeping in mind the organization’s policies and procedures. Creating compliance courses as games where learners take up new challenges, earn rewards or tokens to qualify to the next level will make learners look at these course as a fun activity.

These are some ways to make the online compliance courses more fun and interesting. Have you spiced up your compliance courses? What are some of the strategies that you used to make them engaging? Share your comments here.

You need a partner not a vendor

 

Values

One of the core values that we have at Harbinger is working with our customers as a partner rather than a vendor. All our actions and attributes are directed towards this value and we as a team constantly try and practice them.

Well, you can question, that since at the end of the day everyone is executing projects for their customers and in return is getting compensated for a mutually agreed amount, then how can one differentiate between a vendor and a partner? Well, I will not try to answer this question right away, but instead highlight some values that we as a team bring on the table for our customers. That would definitely bring out the key aspects of being a partner.
So here are the core values which define our working style:

Agility: It is the ability to quickly adapt to specific needs which can help fulfil mission critical objectives for our customers. For instance, agility is displayed in our ability to ramp-up the team size on a short notice to meet a specific go-to-market plan, or our willingness to quickly learn a new technology to give a differentiated solution to a customer.

Accountability: We believe in being accountable throughout, and showing it consistently. For example, if a deliverable has been promised on a certain date, then take the responsibility delivering it on time. Not only do we understand the specifications of a particular project, but we also try to understand the business impact it can have and we hold ourselves accountable to ensure that all desired goals are met.

Transparency: This is a key factor in developing effective relationships as partners. We give a complete and transparent view of various activities to the stakeholders and have constant and open communication to mitigate risks well ahead of time.

Quality: A customer generally finds it annoying to invest time in testing, finding bugs and then sending the final product back for fixes. To avoid this, our dedicated quality assurance team ensures that every deliverable that goes out of the window is tested for the quality standards and there is nothing left for chance.

Culture of learning and innovation: Last but not the least; we thrive on a culture of learning and innovation. It is embedded within all our team members. It helps our customers in tackling the ever changing technology needs. One of our customers had once mentioned ‘It is great that we have a development partner who believes in learning and innovation because we do not get time to learn in our day to day activities.’

These values make us what we are and we are proud of them.

It will be wonderful to hear your thoughts and experiences on the values and attributes through which you have been able to differentiate your suppliers as partners. Share your comments below or write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com with your thoughts.