Training Around the World in COVID Times
Feature Story – By Julie Pritchard-Hedtke
Corindus needed to act quickly to find alternative training methods
Let’s turn back the clock to March 16, 2020, the day Corindus began building a global sales training program while simultaneously closing our office doors to escape COVID-19. Thrown to the mercy of the virus, we decided to capitalize on these unprecedented conditions through virtual learning platforms that support sales training around the world.
Our product requires both capital and clinical buy-in when it comes time to make sales (suits and scrubs). But selling to hospitals during the pandemic presented several challenges, including access, limited interaction with physicians and extreme travel restrictions that impacted our ability to provide hands-on training to our sales teams.
To further complicate things, our product, the CorPath GRX System — the world’s first robotic-assisted platform for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and Peripheral Vascular Intervention (PVI) procedures — supports non-essential, non-emergent procedures. Additionally, while many PCI procedures are considered elective, there are some, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), that are certainly emergent.
The challenge for us is that our technology (unlike, say, an imaging system), is not required to perform these procedures. As written, it would seem all procedures are non-emergent. I would suggest something like “most of the procedures our system supports are elective and non-emergent while emergent procedures can be performed without the use of the robot.”
Just months before the global pandemic, we were acquired by Siemens Healthineers, and together, we were scaling up our operations. We needed to act quickly to find alternative training methods.
- We swiftly shifted our focus from in-person classroom and cath lab-based training to virtual instructor-led training (VILT).
- We had to identify platforms to effectively onboard sales team members from Seattle to Singapore to Spain.
- We moved content from hard copy to digital playbooks.
- We built SharePoint sites to enable every part of the globe to access the necessary material to understand our product, our value proposition and our markets.
- Through MS Teams, we built a Sales team community.
- We exchanged travel and expense budgets for digital platforms, including ExplORer Surgical and Articulate.
Our biggest challenge wasn’t the implementation of our sales training program — it was developing a culture of continuous learning around the globe that would promote personal growth and, most importantly, retention. The global sales training team was making tremendous progress building virtual training programs to reach team members around the world, but we struggled with tactile training. The CorPath GRX System, although capital, includes a disposable device element that we call cassettes. It was critical that our clinical sales teams gained access to cassettes and were properly trained on how they support robotic-assisted procedures.
The global sales training team partnered with several functional teams to address this challenge. We first worked with sales leadership in our global regions to develop a training module that would allow clinical sales team members to have access to the essential cassette. We then leaned on our marketing and R&D departments to develop a portable cassette board that would enable new team members to gain the tactile training and experience they needed.
Cassette boards and interventional devices were shipped to newly onboarded clinical team members, along with a link to a VILT video that walked through each step of their role in driving use of the cassette. We used an established process to decontaminate the boards and cassettes before rotating them to the next set of team members to be onboarded. Trainers were available around the clock to answer questions from the field. The training, and the overall process, was a complete success.
As with any sales training program, criteria were in place to ensure we reached Level 2, Evidence of Learning. We needed to access every new team member, regardless of their geographic location. Each of them had to go through an objective panel assessment that included questions designed to allow participants to showcase their skills and knowledge. The success of the global training program t this stage was a result of blending digital platforms with access to subject matter experts who were invested in helping participants succeed.
Given the pressure faced by the global healthcare system, we found that sales leadership in our global regions that allowed participants time to move through the structured training curriculum helped ensure we trained the right individuals at the right time and thereby accelerated their contributions to the organization. This approach also helped to interrupt the “forgetting curve,” as different platforms such as Brainshark and MS Teams were integrated into monthly calls, providing exposure to real-world scenarios they would face in the field.
Participants achieved the final measure of success in their initial learning journey by earning certification, an outward display of their internal commitment to bringing world-class robotic care to their local community.
Once access to hospitals began to open up, our newly onboarded and certified sales team had built the skills needed to feel confident and competent with the equipment. Although most of these virtual approaches were developed because of COVID-19, we strongly believe that the global sales training program, including virtual platforms and tactile training, will continue to grow, be efficient and drive essential training everywhere.
Julie Pritchard-Hedtke is vice president of strategic initiatives for Corindus, a Siemens Healthineers company. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.