Launching and supporting a medical device means training a large audience covering a large geography, something smaller companies may struggle with due to lack of manpower or distribution. Addressing that problem, training solutions provider Vuepoint (Roslyn Heights, New York) is helping to “level the field between the huge player and the small player“ in the medical device industry with its Vuepoint Learning System 5.1 (VLS).

“It's a new way of going to market,“ Ara Ohanian, president and CEO of Vuepoint, told Medical Device Daily. With VLS, he said, “upcoming, mid-market companies are becoming more competitive because they are adding a new element to their marketing mix. That element is the rapid, broad and scalable delivery of knowledge around the product.“

VLS is enabling companies such as CME Devices (New York) to offer the healthcare professionals who buy or use their products consistent training programs and competency evaluations.

In the case of CME Devices, Vuepoint is helping the infusion pump manufacturer to train and certify nurses and pharmacists on its Bodyguard 323 multi-therapy pump. Available in Europe, CME Devices was ramping up for a U.S. launch of the ambulatory and pole-mounted pump.

“Their challenge was to get information about their pumps out to not only their sales organization, but certainly to the practitioners who need to use those devices,“ Joe Fuchs, Vuepoint's vice president of medical knowledge delivery, told MDD.

Vuepoint has developed a full product simulation that allows the Bodyguard 323's end user to virtually operate the device on a computer and become competent with the pump's functionality, before using it with patients.

“We created a course for CME Devices, taking the functionality of the 323 and creating it in virtual mode,“ Fuchs said. “In this case we worked with a subject matter expert on the pump side, then we took materials, graphics, training manuals and actual devices, and we simulated those devices on the screen, and wrapped around that training.“

Once enrolled in the course, the user accesses the training program through the CME Devices web site. And because salespeople in medical distribution are often on the road, offline components can be downloaded as well.

Fuchs described the course as a “virtual simulation that a nurse or pharmacist anytime, anyplace with internet connection can go in and learn how to use that pump,“ much the same as if a CME Devices sales trainer “was standing in front of them. They'll be doing the exact same thing, except they'll be doing it with the mouse on a virtual device rather than with their fingers on the physical device.“

The user is taken through a series of exercises where they learn to use and program the pump. “If they do something wrong, the pump is going to display exactly the same error message, in the same timing, with the same protocols [as would] a physical pump,“ Fuchs explained.

“We introduced some elements of instructional design and cognitive sciences so that people are not only being presented with information, but we're engaging that user so that we make sure that information sticks,“ he said. “Being able to make this knowledge available 24/7 in a measurable fashion, where you can actually gage what people know and don't know, is a huge benefit.“

After completing the online training course and mastering the product simulation, the user is approved to operate the device. In the case of CME Devices, users are awarded CE certification, Fuchs said.

But, as Ohanian emphasized, “It's more than just an online training course.“

Vuepoint's training platform also allows users to return to the training course at any time should questions arise. Because medical devices are constantly evolving, the system also enables the company to communicate product updates on a continuous, real-time basis. “You don't have to restart an entire training initiative,“ Ohanian said.

VLS can also help with new product adoption. Fuchs said that feedback from customers, including CME Devices, indicates that they have found the Vuepoint solution to be “a tremendous pre-sale asset.“ A potential barrier salespeople may encounter when convincing a new customer to switch to a new brand or product is when the customer asks “how do I get my staff ramped up quickly to use this new and possibly more complex technology?“ Fuchs said.

“We are helping companies with not only how they deliver their training but also as a differentiator up front as to what impact [it is] going to make on sales and adoption of the product.“ Vuepoint's clients are “seeing this as a real extra benefit, and we are going to market and touting that,“ he said.

Ohanian emphasized that VLS is augmenting a company's sales team, not replacing it. “We're just giving them a new weapon,“ he said. “If you think of knowledge as ammunition, we make sure that ammunition is with them when they need it.“

Since 1996, privately-held Vuepoint has been helping large and small businesses “involved in broad spectrum of industries, typically with complex or complicated products, to accelerate the transfer of knowledge around the products and the brands that they sell and make sure its impact will get some measurement,“ Ohanian said.

Vuepoint “can literally within a few days launch a global initiative for an organization, and on their side they don't need to have a team or any new resources to make that possible,“ which Ohanian called a “turnkey aspect.“

The approach is customized to the client and varies by industry. Most medical devices, Fuchs said, “are best delivered in terms of simulation because of the complexity of the device. It not only provides [end users] with information, but gives them the ability to interact with the device.“

Other medical device manufacturers who have used Vuepoint's integrated suite of knowledge management cap- abilities include Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California), Guidant (Indianapolis) and Pall (East Hills, New York).

And Ohanian sees Vuepoint's solutions growing as the industry grows. “As we look forward into a few years from now, I think that there is an opportunity for these organizations to start reaching out straight to the end user – the patient,“ he said. “I think we will start seeing more knowledge modules, little engaging learning pieces that can empower a potential patient with the knowledge of how to use a particular device, when to use it, and which one is better. I personally believe this is going to be the next wave that is coming.'