Medical Device Sales Training – Time for a face-lift

Medical device sales reps are considered to be amongst the most sophisticated reps globally, as they require strong intellect, skills, and qualification to stay competitive in this industry. With the advent of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and disruptive technologies, there is tremendous focus on the way medical device sales training is delivered. Traditional digital learning methods are unable to match pace and requirements of the modern day sales reps and hence it’s time to relook at this training.

Let’s look at some interesting ways to give a face-lift to medical device sales training.

  1. Modernizing legacy courses

The modern day medical sales reps work in an extremely competitive and dynamic market which demands them to have requisite product knowledge at their fingertips. Online training modules developed in legacy tools kills the overall purpose of effective, on-demand sales training. The need is to convert these legacy courses into new, mobile-friendly formats, which the sales reps can access anywhere and anytime.

  1. Creating relevant micro-learning chunks

Medical device sales trainers are increasingly looking at converting lengthy eLearning modules into meaningful micro-learning chunks which can capture key learning objectives. These chunks can be easily pushed via mobile apps to keep the sales reps updated. For e.g. If there are any changes in FDA 21 CFR, specific updates can be easily pushed via mobile app to sales reps.  Another example of this could be delivering key product information chunks to sales reps. These micro-nuggets can come in handy while pitching to their prospects.

  1. Converting ILTs, webcasts, and podcasts to self-paced digital learning products

Medical device sales training can be in multiple forms including ILTs, webcasts, and podcasts. These formats are effective but it’s really difficult to assess the sales reps’ knowledge once they complete them. It’s also challenging for the reps to recall everything they watched or listened to, after a certain span of time. The solution is to convert such ILTs, webcasts, and podcasts into self-paced digital learning products which have assessments. These products can then be delivered to the sales reps as refresher courses at frequent intervals, which could help in content reinforcement.

  1. Converting the courses to meet modern compliance needs

Traditional digital training may deem ineffective if it doesn’t comply with the latest industry regulations. Modern-day medical device sales training is expected to meet different compliance needs like 508, WCAG 2.0 AA, LTI, and xAPI. So, ensure that the training you develop for your sales reps complies with the industry regulations, and is also flexible enough to accommodate any future updates.

Since knowledge is the foundation of medical device sales and practitioners around the world rely on it, it is critical to present it in the most convenient and effective form. I hope the above approaches come in handy when you strategize your medical device sales training.

Taking Life Sciences Training to the Next Level with AI-Powered Chatbots

Digital learning in the life sciences space is often found to be most advanced, thanks to the level of dynamism involved in this industry. Since pharmaceutical and medical device companies, biotechnology giants, hospitals, and medical associations are all early adopters of cutting-edge technologies, chatbot solutions are already being sought in the life sciences space.

Many of us might have experienced chatbots on different websites, mobile apps, messenger platforms, etc. With the evolving focus on learner-driven experiences, chatbots are an ideal solution to empower employees.

Here are some ways in which AI-powered chatbots can enhance training in life sciences.

  1. Content Discovery and Actionable Insights

Consider a pharmaceutical or medical device company which has a huge repository of compliance courses. A learner may need to specifically know only about ‘Sunshine Act’ or ‘FDA 21 CFR’ and might want to have related information on their finger-tips when needed. An AI-powered chatbot, trained using a pool of keywords, deployed or the company’s messenger platform, can not only help make this specific course discoverable but can also quiz the learner to understand their knowledge on specific topics related to this course. At the back-end, this entire interaction can be analyzed for intelligent actionable insights for the business. The bot can identify the gaps in learning and map it to employee performance. It can quantify the impact of training.

  1. Performance-Support

Performance-support at the point of need is a key requirement for the life sciences domain. Many answers to these performance-support queries by employees are embedded deep into organizational content repositories. This content repository can be leveraged to create various performance-support questions. And then, using technologies like AI, natural language processing, and machine learning, these questions can be mapped to appropriate answers in the content. Once the library of questions and answers is ready, a performance-support bot can be trained to deliver them as needed. An example scenario would be of a physician who is quizzed by the bot on the category of his/her preference. The bot will redirect the physician to specific training module/video when they get some incorrect response in a quiz.

  1. Micro-Learning Support

Let’s take a scenario of a nurse logging into a LMS where a bot pops up to check if the nurse needs any help. The nurse asks a specific question about Electronic Health Record (EHR) based on which the bot will scan through the EHR training module and pull-up a micro-learning nugget to share with the nurse. Since these are intelligent bots trained using a pool of keywords, they can discover exact content and repurpose it in relevant micro-learning formats. The employee won’t need to skim through the entire learning module to fetch the required information.

  1. Refresher Training and Reinforcement

Employees who have previously undergone training on specific topics can use chatbots to refresh their knowledge or to test their knowledge regularly. For instance, chatbots can regularly quiz employees on compliance standards or other important regulatory updates to make sure they are up to date. If the employee doesn’t fare well on the quiz, the bot can reinforce the forgotten learning content as micro-nuggets or redirect the learner to specific content.

The above scenarios make it evident why the life sciences domain is turning to intelligent bots to engage learners better. With chatbots, training can turn more integrated, relevant, accessible, and in-turn more effective.

I would be curious to know your thoughts on deploying intelligent chatbots for training in your organization. Comment below!

Autonomy in Corporate Learning – Content Guidelines To Follow

By definition, autonomy is your capacity to take responsibility for, and control of your own learning, whether in an institution, or completely independent of an instructor or institution. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate to it? Let’s explore further in this article.

There are drastic changes in our everyday life when it comes to learning, compared to a decade back. Autonomy is a big part of this new age learning and is completely transforming our learning experiences. Kids are learning with apps like Byju’s and professionals are making use of portals like Udemy. Watching tutorials to create curated photos for Instagram and vines for YouTube!

Autonomy in workplace learning has been fueled by certain factors in the recent years. Some of them being:

• Inclusion of millennials and gen Z in the workforce
•High mobile usage penetration
• Rise of the gig economy

Users who opt for an autonomous style of learning are usually the ones who want to learn a particular skill in a very short time frame. These users are expected to grasp concepts quickly and put them into practice immediately.

At the core of it, autonomy demands the focus to shift from a culture of training to a culture of learning.  Building right learning content is the first step towards encouraging it. Here are some good practices to remember as you develop autonomous learning content for your organization.

1. Personalize the course
i. Using terms like “I am here” or ‘’you are here’’ for the user’s status.
ii. Allow users to input their name, which the system dynamically fetches through the course.

2. Make users feel accountable
i. Showing awards or rewards that they have earned.
ii. Having negative scoring also helps sometimes.
iii. Having timers to create a sense of urgency.

3. Guide users without overwhelming them
i. Showing roadmaps or scoreboards for the status – this is very important for self-paced learning.
ii. Using accurate signifiers to guide the user – these ensure that no time is wasted in completing user actions or interactions.
iii. Providing options to revisit or skip.

4. Keeping content light and precise
i. Using smaller animations with greater impact, since the attention span of the modern-day learners is quite low.
ii. Animation screens should always be ‘open-navigation’ and not restricted. Users should be able to decide which part of the animation they want to visit.
iii. Do not use jargonized statements and objectives. Keep the language simple. And also, try and limit the total number of objectives to 4, to keep them achievable.

Autonomy is more of a mindset than a practice. What do you think? Are there any best practices that you would like to share? Comment below!

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Online Pharmaceuticals Sales Training

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”- Henry Ford

And imagine how costly would that be in pharmaceutical sales training where millions of dollars are at stake.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about empowering sales effectiveness for pharmaceutical reps through digital learning. In continuation to that, today I will share my thoughts on the top mistakes to avoid in the pharmaceutical digital learning journey.

As Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) gain more prominence, potential pharmaceutical decision makers are no longer restricted to physicians, surgeons, medical specialists, or other clinicians. IDNs are huge networks that manage or own end to end patient care.

What change does that imply for pharmaceutical sales reps? Well, they now need to possess necessary skills to persuade and influence decisions that administrators across IDNs make about the usage of drugs and devices. They also need to learn to negotiate large-sized deals with these IDNs. All this can be catalyzed through online sales training. Hence, it is only natural for pharmaceutical giants to have the largest chunk of their training dedicated towards empowering sales, since it has a direct impact on the bottom-line.

While we talk about what needs to be done, let us also look at what should be avoided. Here are 5 common mistakes that you should possibly avoid in online pharmaceutical sales training:

  1. Designing standard training programs for one and all

When your sales reps have distinct goals, knowledge base, aspirations, and preferences, it is a big mistake not to offer them personalized training programs. Many pharmaceutical companies are moving towards Learning Experience Design (LXD) as a base for a more bespoke and human-centered approach to learning. An appropriate example of this would be spaced learning using assessments. Assume that a sales rep took a course 3 months back on a new product that was launched. Today, when the sales rep logs in to the learning app, a bunch of questions pop-up, based on the same course. If the answer to any of the questions is incorrect, relevant videos or section of the course are shortlisted for reinforcement. These become available in the sales rep’s learning dashboard for them to view and be fully prepared when they pitch the product to prospective clients.

  1. Continuing with legacy content

The new age pharmaceutical reps are in constant need of just-in-time training. They generally undertake this while they are on the field or in some cases, even before a client meeting. This training should ideally be in the form of responsive micro- learning chunks accessible through mobiles or tablets. Legacy content developed using older versions of authoring tools or in outdated formats often acts as a barrier to delivering such modes of training. It is probably a good idea to consider modernization of legacy content for effective online sales training.

  1. Reinforcement is often ignored

Some pharmaceutical companies restrict sales training only to new joiners while for some it is just a one-time thing. Reinforcement of the training content is often ignored. However, companies need to understand that pharmaceutical sales reps are expected to recall and remember everything correctly when sitting through a client meeting. Reinforcement could make this process easier. There are many smart ways to reinforce important concepts and details from past training modules. You could do that as micro-learning nuggets or short videos covering fundamental aspects. Pushing these reinforcement modules at regular intervals ensures high retention of knowledge.

  1. Importance of the training outcome(s) is not outlined

Imagine a scenario where a sales rep is flooded with modules on a new Oncology drug launch. It would be difficult to keep them motivated unless they are told on how the information would benefit them in closing a sale. Highlighting key benefits of new sales training should help sales reps stay curious and ahead of the game during their sales pitch. So companies should make it a point to outline the importance of each and every training outcome of a module.

  1. Ignoring the ‘skills-training’ factor

Successful sales reps need to know their product(s) in-and-out in this highly regulated industry. However, too much focus on product knowledge and less on the skills to sell the same is just a job half-done. It is important to have a dedicated focus on skills like customer probing, persuasion, and negotiation, for the sales training to have the optimum impact.

If you could avoid the above mistakes, there is a high chance that your sales reps will stay motivated and well-equipped for their next big deal. Stay tuned for my next blog in this series on empowering pharmaceutical sales reps trough digital learning. If you have some experiences to share from your pharmaceutical training journey or would like to share your thoughts, comment below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

It is that time of year when we all take a pause and reflect on the year passing by and get ready to welcome the new one. My role as a Proposal Engineer at Harbinger Interactive Learning makes me stretch outside the norms and design interesting solutions for our customers. While looking back at 2018, I realized this year was unique in many ways. It challenged the eLearning stakeholders in many ways and got them out of their comfort zone. All these advancements have paved way for an even more exciting 2019.

Here are the trends I foresee for the upcoming year.

Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design

Instructional design seems to be gradually evolving into learning experience design. Instructional designers will now need to think beyond course instructional strategy, chunking content, and storyboard creation. Delivering learning content in newer ways based on learner behavior would be their new agenda. Applying instructional strategies for newer formats like chatbot, AR/VR, short animated videos, would be very different than applying them to an hour long course. Our instructional designers have already started experiencing this change. Have you?

Redefined eLearning Course Development and Design

The ideal duration of an eLearning course changed from an hour or two to about 30 minutes in the last few years. It would further dip down to 2-5 minute long modules. The delivery formats would now also include interactive infographics, AR content, and other such interesting forms. It implies that every course and every learning experience could be unique. This change would also form the premise for a huge transformation in the way eLearning content development units and L&D departments function, since they won’t be using the waterfall model to develop hundreds of hours of learning in the same format anymore.

eLearning Project Management Moves Agile

Agile project management practices have been around in software development cycle since ages. And they have been talked about for quite some time now in eLearning teams as well. With the type of variety in content being developed now, it would be a welcome to see agile project management in action here as well.

CLOs and Learning Directors Ready to Take Risks

In the past, for many of our proposals, we have been asked to put down the ROI for eLearning development in black and white. But in 2018, we saw that quite a few learning stake-holders were open to newer ideas, trying out different forms of learning content delivery, and not being hung upon the ROI. I don’t deny that ROI is important. And it would have to be asked one day. But, what is important is that stake-holders are ready to take risks. The parameters of ROI are being shifted from “number of hours of learning” to “performance improvement” of an employee in areas that matter. If a support desk employee can get a just-in-time learning nugget on how to fill a complex form and completes that form within record time and handle more support queries, the ROI is achieved.

Netflix-like Experiences in Learning

Today, no learner would like to login to an LMS to take up a course even if they have free time. But, if the same employee is on an internal portal browsing some content and there comes a learning nugget in the context of what they are surfing, there are high chances of them clicking on this learning nugget. And that is how learning would happen now: In-context and nudged based on user actions. A seemingly Netflix like experience where movies are recommended based on what the user watches and surfs. And the recommendations only become better with time.

Artificial Intelligence in Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made great advancements through the past few years and this year will mark its remarkable presence in L&D setup. AI is going to play a dual role here: Providing personalized experiences and learner evaluation through analytics.

AI-powered chatbots are currently being used to answer financial queries, provide customer support, diagnose healthcare issues, and even offer counselling on various topics. They are already starting to make an impact on education and corporate learning. Bots similar to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana could be developed to frontend a course and provide personalized learning experiences.  Besides delivering learning, a chatbot can also provide information about what people learn, how they learn, and what they need to learn. The data recorded from chatbot interactions can be analyzed to see what is being learned and when. It will also tell you what information is missing by recording the queries that it couldn’t respond to. This means that training can become more relevant and effective as it’s based on the demonstrable needs of employees rather the notional needs determined by L&D.

Interesting time lies ahead for the L&D function as some new learning and re-skilling looks to be the order of the year. Do you agree? Get immersed and enjoy the journey!