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 info@harbingerlearning.com to schedule a time to discuss your digital content development plans.


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.

When Steve Met Rachel


I recently bumped into my university time friend Rachel at a conference in Toronto. I remembered her as a shy girl from old days, but it looked like she had transformed into a very confident business professional over the years. She handed over her card to me which read that she was a sales head with a well-known eLearning company.

We chatted for a bit, touched upon how life had changed as we have aged, strategies for staying healthy, challenges with everyday stuff, daily activities, hobbies, and of course, work.

Just as I was about to end the conversation with a formal sounding promise to keep in touch, she said something that piqued my curiosity. She said she would be in New York the week after, to meet a customer, who apparently is my biggest competitor called ‘Medical Communications’ and as a matter of fact, a well-known name too in my industry.

Just a little background, I own a digital communications company based in the heart of New York City. We have a special focus on the pharmaceutical sector, with most global pharma brands as our clients.

“What would an eLearning development firm do for a medical communications agency?”

Rachel gave me a confident smile and said, “quite a lot.”

“But I know for a fact that they do not develop any online training! How does a collaboration work in that case?”

“Steve, you are quite right assuming that our main business is to develop digital learning modules. However I would like to throw some light on what it includes. Being a smart businessman, I know you will connect the dots in your mind.”

“I am all ears.”

“We are purely into the instructional and technology part of things, the main content always comes from the client, we don’t write it. But we make sure it gets translated into interactive and engaging outcomes. When the course content comes from the client, we start work on the instructional design and create storyboards. Once the client approves them, we start the development. The development includes multiple things like creating the graphics, icons, graphs, charts, animations, 2D or 3D images and characters. A lot of our work involves creating engaging video content. In the end we put everything together and handover the final product to the client….you get the picture?”

“I guess I do, yeah. So are you saying that your services are not limited to the businesses that wish to develop interactive training, but to every business that would like to create digital content?”

“You got it! For your competitor, we have been developing short two minute videos on the side effects of certain drugs. They have hired a dedicated team of animators in our offshore office in India for the video creation work.”

“So the hypoglycemia video they showcased in the conference in DC last month…was it developed by you folks?”

She just smiled.

“You kidding me? That is award winning stuff! You guys are great!”

“Thank you, Steve. This is all about understanding the client’s business thoroughly, asking the right questions and delivering as promised. With stringent processes and strong project management skills, we can do it fairly easily for industries. Though I sell mainly into the life sciences, my company’s business is industry agnostic. We work with many marketing and advertising agencies as their development partners. With a large offshore team, we can take on work at a short notice and work with tight timelines. The hypoglycemia video from our customer or the drug launch presentation I showed to you earlier are just two examples from the many projects we keep executing on a regular basis. Do you think we can catch up once again in NYC next week to have a detailed discussion?”

Rachel’s words forced me to think a lot on the way things were currently happening at my firm, and I could think of many more opportunities already in my head. I would be a fool to say no to Rachel’s proposition.

I learnt that an eLearning company could be of help to many non-training businesses too, and I am already looking forward to know more in our next meeting.

Note: This blog is a fictional account.

Transforming Webcasts into Interactive eLearning Courses

shutterstock_471046154Webcasts or webinars are a popular medium for conveying information and knowledge to the workforce. In my conversations with various life sciences customers, I discovered that many organizations have a library of webcasts with relevant information that are still being used as part of their learning environment. However, one common feedback received from their learners is that “even if the content is relevant, it isn’t engaging at all!”

In today’s highly interactive media world, watching lengthy videos is surely tedious. That’s when I had the idea of turning webcasts into engaging eLearning experiences!

In a typical webcast, you connect through an online meeting tool to watch a presentation and listen to the speaker. You also participate in some polls or questions through the chat window. Webcasts are presented as live sessions and may be also available as a recording.

Why Convert Webcasts into eLearning Courses?

Webcasts lack interactivity if you are watching a recording instead of the live session; it is a passive experience for the learner. Additionally, there is no method to measure the learning outcomes.

As opposed to that, eLearning modules are on-demand training experiences with audio and video elements, interactive activities, knowledge checks and additional resources. One can even perform tasks in simulation courses. You can take the course at a convenient time. With the advent of mobile learning or mLearning, you can also take a course on-the-go on your mobile devices.

You can measure learning outcomes of the course using learner analytics to know how your learners engaged with the course.

3 Easy Steps for Converting Webcasts into eLearning Courses

Step 1: The fishutterstock_351011930-convertedrst step towards converting webcasts into eLearning is to analyze the recording of the webcast and determine which content lends itself to interactivity. During the analysis, you need to determine if the webcast covers all the key information that needs to be included in the eLearning course.  Else collaboration with a SME is necessary to provide the missing content. Using the webcast recording as source material is a good way to reduce dependency on the SME.

Step 2: The content is chunked into smaller, logical parts and then a storyboard is created. The interactions used in the webcasts, for example the whiteboard animations, polls taken to understand user inputs, online games played as brainteasers, questions from the audience at the end of the webcast etc., could be used to create interactive surveys, knowledge checks or interactive scenarios in the eLearning course. One could even use a portion of the webcast video as part of the eLearning course, if relevant.

Step 3: Once the storyboard is finalized, you can start the development of the course using the tool or technology of your choice (e.g. Articulate Storyline, Custom HTML5, Captivate, Raptivity etc.). The choice of the tool will depend on the devices from which the course will be accessed.

5 Things to Keep in Mind before You Start

  1. Merely converting the webcast into an electronic format is not eLearning; just like cut-glass is not a diamond. You must evaluate the content on several criteria to determine how it can be converted into a course.
  2. It is important to define the learning objectives and the learning outcomes of the eLearning course. It will help in analyzing the content and removing any information that is not required for the eLearning course.
  3. There is no need to include everything that has been explained in the webcast in the eLearning course.
  4. It is ideal to collaborate with a trusted partner company that follows eLearning best practices when undertaking this conversion exercise.
  5. It is essential that the content for the eLearning is self-contained since unlike the webcast there is no instructor available for additional annotations. Additionally, the converted training material should be designed for multi-modal presentations – including desktops, tablets, and smart phones.

Already thinking of converting your webcasts into eLearning?

Write to info@harbingerlearning.com to find out how Harbinger can help you convert your existing webcasts into interactive and engaging eLearning courses.

Meeting eLearning Development Targets with Limited Capacity

I was at the eACH Conference last month and a common problem I heard from many eLearning companies was that of a ‘limited team capacity’. These teams or L&D departments aimed to serve thousands of their internal customers but they had to develop many courses in a short time. I realized we have all faced this ‘limited team capacity’ problem at some point or the other.


Based on my experience of eLearning domain in the last 7 years, here are three ways I have seen our customers address this problem. It has helped them maximize their internal team capacity and at the same time deliver courses based on the business demand.

1. Templatization
You don’t always have to build your eLearning course from scratch. You can create a library of templates that can be reused and customized. This will standardize the quality of eLearning content and also save time and effort.

However, building your own template library would take time. If you need something quickly, there are many paid or free templates available online.

2. Rapid eLearning
Rapid eLearning is the production process of creating e-learning courses quickly and effectively. It usually doesn’t involve using complicated software or programming techniques.

Rapid eLearning is a tool- based approach that can be used by an Instructional Design team. This approach helps lower the development cost and allows you to put together a course quickly.

Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, GoMoLearning, and Raptivity are a few popular rapid eLearning development tools available in the market.

3. Partnering with an expert
Sometimes it’s sensible to partner with an expert company that can act as the extension of your in-house team. The development tasks are handled by the partner, allowing your internal team to focus on the core tasks like communicating with SMEs, gathering the training content, etc.

Choosing a partner that is a one-stop-shop for all eLearning needs is a plus. The partner company should support various tools and technologies and should not be limited to any specific technology. Ask for references and work samples in advance that demonstrate the quality and variety of work they can produce. The right partner can complement your team and give you a cost-effective option.

How did you handle your “limited team capacity” problem? Do share your thoughts through comments below.

About Us
Harbinger Interactive Learning is a learning technology company. We offer cost effective learning solutions with resources across different technologies and skillsets.

We offer course development services in Custom Flash/HTML5, Lectora, Storyline, Captivate etc. A partnership with Harbinger can help customers build high quality eLearning/mLearning courses cost effectively and stretch their development capabilities further.