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Case study: Using avatar technology to reduce VTE

The launch of VTEducation: an online programme to help pharmacists take a more proactive role in venous thromboembolism prevention

Published: 11 Jan 2012

The avatars enabled users to participate in contextualised dialogue.

Client: sanofi-aventis

Agency: Packer Forbes Communications

Campaign: VTEducation

Timescale: January to February 2011

A quick look

VTEducation is an online programme featuring cutting-edge avatar technology to help pharmacists get more involved in efforts to reduce the 32,000 deaths that occur each year from venous thromboembolism (VTE). It was developed through a partnership between sanofi-aventis, UK Clinical Pharmacy Association Haemostasis and Thrombosis Committee (UKCPA HAT) and Keele University School of Pharmacy. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and VTE Exemplar Centres were so impressed they actively promoted VTEducation to their members. Early registration exceeded expectations and feedback indicated VTEducation is encouraging pharmacists to take a more proactive role in VTE prevention.


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) or hospital acquired blood clots kill more people in the UK each year than MRSA, breast cancer, road traffic accidents and AIDS combined. How can these mortality figures be reduced? VTE prevention was made a clinical priority for the NHS and a nationally mandated target for 2010-2011. Market research among clinical pharmacists revealed a reluctance and lack of confidence in engagement with ward-based colleagues regarding VTE prevention, when best practice was not being followed. Professional education was perceived as the remit of pharmacy professional bodies and time constraints meant programmes needed to be accessible out of hours.


A tripartite steering committee was formed to develop a bespoke educational tool for clinical pharmacists. It comprised UKCPA HAT (content advisers), Keele University (avatar technology) and sponsors, sanofi-aventis.

Five separate sections of learning were programmed within an online learning module using virtual avatars to enable the user to participate in contextualised dialogue. Multiple choice questionnaires at the end of each section tested knowledge, then virtual colleague dialogue with pre-programmed avatars allowed the user to put into practice what they have learnt. By engaging in a virtual conversation with a ward nurse, a junior doctor and senior consultant, the pharmacist is able to role play critical negotiation skills on VTE prevention with virtual clinical colleagues. The online programme was embedded within a social-media style portal that encouraged networking as well as offering CPD learning.

The VTEducation launch and marketing plan was multi-faceted and included a targeted pharmacy media outreach campaign, a website banner campaign and a pilot presentation at the UKCPA annual conference. The programme was endorsed by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and promoted among VTE Exemplar Centres.


Online media coverage reached an audience of 100,000 and included PJ online. Print coverage was achieved in the top five pharmacy journals reaching over 60,000 pharmacists.

Two weeks post launch, 84 registrations were logged and over 30 pharmacists have completed the CPD programme, with 100% of these recommending the module to their colleagues. Evidence from the field suggests pharmacists have been encouraged to pick up the gauntlet of VTE prevention.

Client verdict

"True partnership working meant we could really support the delivery of a CPD package for pharmacists who play a vital role in VTE prevention and ultimately improve outcomes for their patients. Packer Forbes has delivered outstanding results that far exceeded our expectations both in terms of quality and timely delivery and in multi-stakeholder engagement."

Joëlle Etienne-Fry, sanofi-aventis

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