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The field team are off the road! What should they do next?

Written by Briony Frost , OPEN Health

Virtual meetings, training and maintaining morale

As travel restrictions increase globally, resulting in the postponement of many medical conferences, home-working is increasing and with it we are facing a number of challenges; however, there are also new opportunities to:

1. Replace face-to-face communications with digital interactions
2.
Use additional time to focus on training
3.
Stay engaged and motivated

MAXIMISING VIRTUAL INTERACTIONS

There are a huge range of tools available to support virtual interactions; you can find out more by visiting https://www.openhealthgroup.com/virtual-meetings-and-events.

Now more than ever healthcare professionals (HCPs) are time-poor as they (rightly) prioritise their patient-facing time. Therefore, when interactions are possible, we need to ensure they deliver maximum impact and value. Clearly, it is important that your team are confident using virtual platforms, and it’s worth running a troubleshooting session and sending out top tips to build their skills.

Often, the biggest challenge when creating materials is ensuring that content has been designed and approved in such a way that it is easy to repurpose, adapt and deliver in these virtual formats. This requires a degree of flexibility and is achievable if factored in at the design stage (but can also be achieved retrospectively). Then, it is up to your team to communicate complex data and messages succinctly and memorably. This leads onto...

TIME TO TRAIN

Reduced travelling time can be reclaimed and channelled into enhancing knowledge, competencies and confidence to meet these challenges.

OPEN Health’s specialist Learning & Development team are experts in crafting bespoke, high-quality, clinically relevant, self-directed learning programmes that enable field teams to maximise their potential and maintain their status as credible partners in the healthcare community. With our strong heritage in internal training from OPEN Health Medical Communications, and the theoretically informed practices of our learning and development specialists, we are well-equipped to deliver robust, outcome-focused virtual training. Taking the three key challenges above in reverse order, here’s how we can help you make best use of your time during this public health challenge.

STAYING UP TO DATE WITH THE DATA AND CLINICAL LANDSCAPE

With many field-based roles at a temporary standstill, the teams have a rare chance to focus on broadening and deepening their scientific knowledge. Whether you want to develop new knowledge, update your current understanding or refresh your memory on disease and therapy areas, now is the time to do it. From video conferences and webinars – with live polls, talks and Q&As – to interactive workshops, discussion forums and pod- and slide-casts with self-assessments and feedback, there are numerous ways to learn online. The best programmes will allow you to learn independently, interactively and immersively, combining live and on-demand methods for engaging with scientific content. The very best do more than just enhance your existing knowledge – they build competencies and confidence too.

COMMUNICATING COMPLEX DATA AND MESSAGES SWIFTLY

We believe that professional competencies emerge from the demonstration of scientific content knowledge through skills to achieve desired outcomes. Both knowledge and skills development work better when they’re delivered hand-in-hand. With the increasing pressures on HCPs’ time as current events unfold, it’s more important than ever to ensure that field teams can transmit key information effectively and efficiently. We can embed communications skills such as distilling, prioritising and presenting essential information into our interactive knowledge training, so that you can cover more ground and maximise the time you spend with your HCPs for the benefit of their patients.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS

If the content above around virtual interactions made you realise your team isn’t leveraging technology to its full potential, training to boost their competence and confidence in this area can have a big impact. From virtual conferences and webinars to simple one-to-one phone and video calls, your ability to navigate remote working technologies will be critical. And with increased traffic on all these channels, you need to know how to make best use of the time and tools available for your audience. A core element of our learning methodology focuses on the intersections between knowledge and technology – not just how we use it to train you but how you use it in your professional lives. As part of our combined knowledge and competencies development, we can embed real-world, applicable scenarios into your scientific knowledge training, and deliver the training via the types of technologies most appropriate to your role. Our programmes are designed to provide you with the practice and confidence that you need to move your work into the virtual environment.

TEAM ENGAGEMENT

Although teams may be used to remote working, away from their offices for extended periods, it’s not quite the same as being home-based every day. Particularly, as it’s highly likely that a big part of the reason for choosing their job here is because they enjoy human interaction. A few simple techniques can ensure that team members don’t start to feel disconnected, isolated and demotivated. A few basic pointers:

MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS

Set up regular touchpoints and encourage everyone to use their webcam – being able to visually see the rest of the team boosts engagement in the discussion and increases the feeling of connection

CHAT IS GOOD!

Ensure you have an outlet for more informal, social interactions throughout the day, and set the tone that some non-work discussion is positive. You’ll also find people share a lot of work-related content, best practice and interesting ideas too. Not least how they are making the most of the extra time!

GET COMPETITIVE

Consider running team competitions virtually, such as quizzes, crosswords, word searches, puzzles, virtual boards, etc. These are all relatively simple and quick to create and distribute. These could include knowledge reinforcement questions for double value and are also a great way to get people talking and discussing the data, as well as potentially highlighting knowledge gaps.

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If you would like to know more about how OPEN Health Learning & Development can work in partnership with you to execute your internal training needs, please do get in touch.

20th March 2020

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