Tried-and-True, Allow Me to Introduce You to Wired and New
By Jennifer Rudolph, Co-Founder and Partner, Scientific Global
Take a moment and think about the best learning experience you’ve ever had. Was it entertaining? Was it hands on? Did you interact with a small group or team? Now consider the most abysmal learning experience you’ve ever had. Did it lack all of the components that made your best experience so memorable for you? What made it so disappointing and unproductive?
When it comes to learning, everyone is different
Competing theories suggest there are anywhere from 4 to 9 different “styles” by which we learn. These styles include visual, aural, physical, verbal, solitary, social, and logical. Interestingly, we each thrive on a combination of some—but not all—of these learning styles, and each individual is different. This means your learning style will look very different from those of your family, friends, and peers. As marketers and educators, then, we risk losing a large part of our audience if we willfully present information in only one dimension.
Consider, for example, the multidimensional digital experiences healthcare providers (HCPs) encounter in their daily lives as consumers and what they expect from the marketplace outside of our industry. Nike opened its enormous flagship retail space in New York City in November 2018. Inside, it’s a tour du force of immersive digital engagements designed for customers to demo the equipment while “participating” in their desired sport and learning how to get better at it, all while flanked by live coaches. According to Nike’s Heidi O’Neill, “[W]e can realize the promise of personalized performance. Powered by immersive digital trials and in-store experts, this store is about elevating every athlete’s potential.” Isn’t that essentially an analog for what industry-related education is all about? Giving HCPs insight into how they can elevate their personal performance, helping them serve their patients in different and better ways?
Our industry is ready for change
Medical schools, nursing schools, and teaching hospitals are slowly embracing these types of rich “consumer” engagements. But it’s not just 20-something-year-old students who can benefit from this shift. In rough terms, more than half of all US HCPs are now under the age of 55. And only about 15% of HCPs today are over the age of 65. This means HCPs are primarily made up of baby boomers, Gen-Xers, and millennials—many of whom are digitally savvy. This also means that HCPs are prepared for the integration of digital solutions into industry-related education and events, allowing them to learn and practice communication, decision-making, and hands-on skills in an engaging environment.
If our typical industry lecture model built on presentation slides filled with walls of words and numbers isn’t making you fidget right about now, it should.
Expanding our approach to peer learning
Peer learning for HCPs remains the cornerstone of modern medical education long after graduation. And in today’s changing landscape it’s more important than ever. HCPs now must operate as part of much larger care teams, yet they have less time to engage with their peers. At first glance, high tech solutions may seem counterintuitive for creating meaningful peer interactions. In-person meetings will never completely go out of style. But we are doing HCPs a disservice if we don’t welcome the quality and efficiency offered by the latest innovations.
For example, what if, instead of asking a physical learner to sit alone and read a textbook about a patient in cardiac arrest, we could transport them into a multiperson interactive simulation where they experience what it’s like to be responsible for that patient and to make fast decisions as part of a care team? What if, instead of asking a person with a verbal learning style to listen quietly to a lecture about proper infusion administration, we could create a forum that allows them to talk through the proper steps? What if we could take HCPs who thrive on social learning from all different parts of the country and create a space where they can support each other without having to book a plane ticket?
Thanks to Virtual Reality (VR), we can.
Tried-and-true, allow me to introduce you to wired and new
Consider that, with a technology like VR, arguably even more so than in live settings, we can readily tap into multiple learning styles by integrating different types of media into a single experience. Using a selection of video, interactive infographics, digital whiteboards, chat rooms, audio, transcripts, or polling and quizzing, VR can hit all 9 learning styles in one single experience—allowing us to create an ideal environment for our content without limitations from any physical meeting space or otherwise.
Consider, too, that VR’s immersive design makes it a particularly effective teaching and learning tool. When an individual places VR goggles on, typical professional and social distractions—phones, laptops, clocks, colleagues, friends, texts, emails—disappear, allowing the content to command their full attention for the duration. The elimination of these distractions has resulted in average audience retention rates of 95% of the content. As marketers and educators, this is exciting—we can finally deliver content in ways that are more broadly relevant and intuitive than ever before.
The technology is ready to help us change. Today.
Traditionally, we deliver educational content to HCPs through channels and media they are comfortable embracing. The good news is that they are comfortably embracing digital experiences and that, for the first time ever, we have technology capable of accommodating all styles of learning at the same time. Like many other game-changing technologies, now that VR has become affordable and transportable enough for widespread use, it’s hard to deny its value as an educational tool for today’s HCPs.
Industry experiences today can, and should, mirror the very best of what our boomer, Gen-Xer, and millennial audiences encounter in their daily consumer lives. HCPs deserve that level of creativity and empathy from us when we consider how to best help them learn and grow in their respective fields of expertise. And not for nothing, our future health depends on it.
About the Author
Jennifer Rudolph is a partner and co-founder of Scientific Global, a promotional medical communications agency based in New York. Jennifer’s focus is on helping clients leverage innovation and reimagine their businesses to make the critical decisions needed to impact brand trajectory. Feel free to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org.