How eLearning Can Cure Poor Pharmaceutical Employee Training

While classroom training is highly effective it is not always a viable solution – many teams are dispersed or out in the field. This is why other forms of training such as virtual classroom training, eLearning and microlearning are becoming more popular.

Microlearning is a relatively quick and cost-effective way to produce training that keeps the skills of employees across departments and countries current. “Modern research supports the theory that our brains respond better to targeted information that’s repeated often, rather than large volumes of data that’s delivered as a one-off learning event.”1

According to research by ATC, 92% of organizations using microlearning planned to do more of it in 2017, and over 67% of organizations not using microlearning planned to adopt it as part of their learning and development strategy.2

Here we provide examples of areas within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries that can benefit the most from a microlearning strategy.



Sales teams

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly releasing new drugs and there is a great deal of product information for sales representatives to learn. While good progress has been made in bringing pharmaceutical information online and making it accessible to sales representatives through tablets and mobile devices, reps are not necessarily making use of these tools. In fact, a research report by DRG Digital stated that over half of physicians had been given out of date information by pharmaceutical sales representatives.3

Sales reps are always on the road, and their schedules make it difficult to attend classroom training. Microlearning is an effective tool in helping sales reps stay on top of newly released product information. They can easily access the information before an important meeting to refresh their knowledge and improve their presentation.


Innovations in technology have changed traditional manufacturing plants into automated facilities. To remain competitive, companies often introduce new products which means implementing new policies and procedures. When expanding a product line, there may also be compliance training required if there are new procedures, regulations and laws.

Environmental compliance is growing in importance as governments at all levels issue new regulations. Non-compliance can result in major fines and are a concern for companies of all sizes.

As in any industry, taking employees from the production floor to put them in classrooms for training can mean production slowdowns and lost revenue.

A more cost-effective way to upskill workers without interrupting production levels is microlearning. Creating eLearning modules covering new products, procedures, environmental regulations and more can provide production employees with the information they need to do their jobs, in an engaging and easily digestible format, while reducing downtime.


In the pharmaceutical industry, technological innovations have are changing the lab environment in which new drugs are developed and tested. When changes are made, employees need to be upskilled to work with new procedures.

In this industry there are rules referred to as “Good Laboratory Practices (GLP)” which outline regulations around the quality of procedures, equipment, testing and reporting in the labs.

As pharmaceutical companies develop new products and expand globally, they will need to follow the compliance regulations in those regions.

Each of these training challenges can be addressed by microlearning. Ongoing innovations can be addressed in short modules delivered to employees online. This is also a cost-effective way to deliver training in regulations for lab procedures and compliance that need to be delivered to many employees at multiple locations, to ensure the consistency of information.


Safety is an important concern in the pharmaceutical industry, especially in laboratories and manufacturing plants. To maintain a safe and healthy work environment, many safety policies and procedures are put in place around the use of machinery and tools, chemicals and cross contamination. In many cases, pharmaceutical companies have global locations with different legal requirements and language considerations.

The short form presentation of microlearning is ideal for safety related training topics. It can be used to quickly introduce new skills or processes as the result of a product launch, as well as providing refresher training to keep skills that are not used every day such as fire or accident procedures top of mind.




Reduce nurse turnover

According to the American Nurses Association, by 2022 there will be a need for 3.44 million nurses, a 20.2% increase.4 Combine that with the fact that nurse turnover has increased this could cause a real issue in the already strained healthcare space.

One of the reasons cited for turnover is that new nurses report a lack of training and formal onboarding by the organizations in which they work. A solid training strategy to combat this trend is microlearning.

By providing a series of short videos nurses can watch on their smartphones or tablets between their regular duties, they can quickly get the information they need on specific subjects without spending hours in a classroom. Microlearning has proven to be effective in the just-in-time training of RNs with 65% more retention of training information compared to 10% for lectures and manuals.5    

Decrease in patient no-show rates

Many patients worry about their scheduled treatments or procedures, unsure of what to expect, resulting in relatively high no-show rates. To help put their minds at ease, some healthcare facilities are producing short microlearning videos that patients can watch at their convenience prior to their procedures. These videos can cover topics such as explaining the ailment, the steps in the treatment, and what the patient can expect during and after the medical appointment.

Mytonomy, a company that produces these short informational healthcare procedure videos, reports that at one hospital the use of microlearning videos has reduced the no-show rate from 50% to only 7%, a big improvement.6

Reduce patient readmissions

Once a patient has been treated for an illness or condition, they need to be educated on lifestyle changes or a specific course of treatment. Earlier this year, Telehealth and Healthwise announced they were teaming up to launch iCareNavigator, a platform combining microlearning content with adaptive learning to create virtual health coaches for these patients.

The content includes health education plans, relaxation therapy and support services, and connects family members who can get involved and encourage healthier choices. A personalized health coach is available to encourage healthier choices that will reduce the chances of a setback leading to readmission.7

As a cost-effective and agile tool, microlearning could be the training format pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations will want to adopt to ensure all employees are fully trained and can access on-demand courses as needed to ensure peak performance in these vital and growing industries.



1 Growing knowledge with microlearning

2 How Microlearning will Shape the Future of Work

3 Doctors say pharma rep details are stale, need updating for digital age

4 Nursing Shortage Statisitcs

5 How Microlearning and Just-In-Time Training Can Improve Nurse Care Training

6 Empowering the Patient

7 BusinessWire