Bringing data to life: thinking about the ‘so what’

Written by Aniket Parikh, Senior Medical Writer on Friday 21st May 2021

When producing any data-related content (or any content, for that matter), whether it is intended for the medical affairs team, commercial colleagues or healthcare professionals (HCPs), it is paramount that you think carefully about how the information is presented, how it will be interpreted and then how they will utilise it in their daily practice.

One of the main elements to think about is the ‘so what’ message. For example, you may be creating a slide deck based on some new data from a clinical trial or an eLearning module to improve the knowledge and skills of colleagues in a particular therapy area. Think carefully about the slides you develop. What is the point you are trying to convey, not only at an overall learning outcome level but also at an individual slide level?

Your audience consists of busy people. They have a million other things to think about and wide-ranging responsibilities. Do they really have time to undertake this piece of training? Do they really WANT to undertake the training? If the answer to both is ‘no’, there is something you can do about it. You can execute the training in such a way that they feel engaged with it and see the value in undertaking it: the ‘so what’.

It can be easy to review the data, recreate them in the form of a slide deck and provide the learner with some information to digest; but what requires a little more thought is to consider HOW they are going to use this information as part of their daily practice. If we take the example of a medical science liaison (MSL), they will digest the data and use them when speaking with HCPs, who will then, depending on the quality of that conversation, decide how best to use that information for their patients. The way the story is told by the MSL is just as important as the data themselves, concentrating on what the data actually mean in the real world and how they then contribute to better patient outcomes. For example, you may need to explain new safety data released for a particular drug, or some real-world evidence data. Using a patient-centric approach and highlighting how the data will have a profound effect on the patient’s experience with the drug and ultimately their quality of life may help to fully engage the HCP and help them to recognise the benefits of the drug for their patients.

Importance of appropriate assessments

Another important part of bringing data to life is through assessments. This can be through formative or practice assessments, in which you can test the learner throughout a piece of learning, such as with self-assessments. This will help the learner to evaluate their understanding of topics or sections along the way through appropriate feedback mechanisms. Once again, to ensure that the learner gets the most out of the assessments, it is vital that you consider what questions you are going to ask and consider how, by asking a particular question, you can help them to reinforce their knowledge and apply it in their daily practice (we will be talking more about creating real-world assessments in an upcoming article).

The other important aspect of testing knowledge is through summative or graded assessments, whereby the learner is assessed right at the end to ensure that they have understood the entire piece of learning and that the learning outcomes set out at the beginning are met. This can be quite difficult to establish, so again it is important that you take care to consider what you are trying to achieve with the assessment – not only focussing on encouraging the learner to recall the data or information, but also on what they will then be able to DO with that knowledge.

Engaging your learners with the data

Remember that every learner is an individual, and learners have different needs and indeed prefer different methods of learning to absorb the information effectively. Therefore, as well as being able to convey the information that is relevant to their role, you also need to think about how it can be disseminated to fit a diverse group of learners. For example, you may produce a slide deck for a new batch of data, but could the same information be repurposed into something else? A podcast, a short video or animation, perhaps? This could then help those who prefer visual learning or want to absorb some information while they are going for a walk or driving.

You may also consider running workshops based on the data to satisfy learners who are hands-on and would appreciate an interactive learning experience. This can also help with networking and team building and enable the sharing of knowledge, experience and best practice. In reality, learners will respond to a variety of options, but, by making it as diverse and accessible as possible, you are able to cover a lot of bases and ensure that the information is processed effectively.

This highlights the number of different and innovative ways you can take a piece of data or information and showcase it to an audience. Don’t feel like you have to be limited to a standard PowerPoint slide deck. Equally, if that is the most appropriate option, think of ways you can make that slide deck as useful and engaging to the learner as you possibly can by focussing on the key takeaway messages of the data you are presenting and taking the time to consider the ‘need to know’ information, rather than the ‘nice to know’. This will also make it easier to repurpose the deck into different types of material, as mentioned earlier. Some useful tips include:

  • Sticking to bite-sized content and trying not to overburden your learner with lots of unnecessary information in order to help them to digest it and explain it better to HCPs
  • Making use of visuals, such as icons and other imagery to bring the training to life and make it more engaging for the learner and the audience to which it is going to be presented
  • Using descriptive titles on the slide; this will save valuable space on the slide and help to tell a good story

OPEN Health’s L&D team brings together unique skill sets and a wealth of healthcare training and communications experience, which means we can offer high-quality, bespoke, self-directed learning programs to our clients. If you would like to hear more about how we collaborate with our clients to design, develop and deliver competitive training programs, please get in touch.

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