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Medical Devices: 4 things you didn’t know about building an AR training program

Robert Combier
POSTED August 31st, 2021

“I see [Augmented Reality] apps that make me want to go to K-12 again and repeat my schooling because it changes the game in the classroom.”

– Tim Cook, CEO Apple Computer

So, you wanna build an AR training program for your medical devices?

First off — give yourself a huge high-five. You’re about to change the experience — and the way — your company trains employees forever. Because once you start down the road of digital experiential training and see the benefits, there’s no coming back.

And that’s probably a bit scary too. We get that.

So, here are the 4 biggest things you probably aren’t expecting that you will likely encounter for the first few miles of your journey:

  1. It’s going to take new and unusual preparation materials

Think back to when your company’s training materials went from paper to PDF. What was required for that change? Well… likely not that much beyond a few Acrobat licenses. That’s because the essential training modules themselves didn’t change, just the container that housed it went digital.

And later, when you went from the PDF to an eLearning platform was also relatively continuous — as most companies just chunked the same materials into pages/slides into a browser/web app.

All of the above transitions were essentially packaging changes, from one form of 2D knowledge to another.

When you take the leap to augmented reality, you add a whole new dimension — literally. Adding 3D content to your training curriculums requires that you collect a whole new type of content: CAD/ 3D Models. 

When you get started, you will probably have to send this kind of email:

Dear Back-office Design Engineer,

I’m building a wildly exciting, immersive training program using augmented reality with WorkLink. Can you please send me a few of the latest CAD files of our equipment?

And yes, when I’m done, you’ll be the first to get to try it.

Thanks!

Unusually Awesome Training Ninja

Make sure that you follow through with the promise of letting them try it. In the world of 3D digital training your Design Engineers will likely become your friends. Consider it from their perspectives’ — they want people to use their products the way they were intended, so ultimately it is a win-win for everyone involved.

  1. It’s really not about the hardware — you and your trainees probably already have it

Type “augmented reality” into Google Images, and you get a million iconic images of people using head-mounted devices (HMD). There’s no denying that the marketing content around AR products focuses heavily on the HMD flash–we’re occasionally guilty of it too, including the key image of this blog! And while those are certainly cool and functional, the training experience on a smartphone or a tablet is still breathtaking (and as effective in most cases).

The best part is that your team probably already has the smartphones required for the training. Just about everything since 2015 comes with either ARcore or ARkit… and that’s all you need folks.

In the long run, it is definitely about the content, not the device. More on that if you are curious here.

  1. It’s going to challenge the way you measure competency, for the better

When you train in person with an instructor — in full 3D reality — do they offer you a multiple choice quiz at the end? They could, but they probably don’t. AR training works the same way. You learn by observing, by doing, by manipulating, and by sequencing, and by completing tasks.

Consider the 3D video game industry — most of them begin with a Level 0, forcing you to train how to perform key actions in the game experientially first, before you dive into the real thing. This is how the next generation is accustomed to training:

Here a video gamer trains with an “aim trainer,” an experience-based tool outside of the game to sharpen skills that require complex 3D performance to achieve the task.

When you move away from the multiple choice test, it becomes much more complicated to grade performance on a linear scale that is easily storable in your LMS. It’s just a fact of the 3D world, and it moves assessment methodology more into the realm of “how” completion was achieved, time per step, spatial effects like collision and danger avoidance, etc (remember the game Operation?). 

Ultimately, these 3D “how” assessments of task completion are far better predictors of field performance than the legacy multiple choice quiz of the eLearning paradigm. The MC quiz still has its place, particularly for binary knowledge (X is compatible with Y), but the emerging standard of competency assessment in the field is in how well the spatial and temporal actions are performed by the trainee.  

  1. It’s going to far exceed your expectations in terms of who you can train, their total engagement, their time to competency, and overall impact

Of all the things our customers experience that they weren’t expecting — this is the most common. They simply didn’t think the net impact on training would be as high as they actually experience, especially with complicated, critical devices and aerospace capital equipment and medical devices.

A recent WorkLink customer, a Fortune 50 enterprise in the medical device industry conducted a controlled experiment with their Sales training and certification programs. They measured a 55% improvement in competency and scoring, with a 29% acceleration in the total time spent in training. 

As you can see, these are not incremental gains in eLearning software, but a paradigm shift that often comes as a surprise to our customers.

For more information about our success in medical device training use cases of WorkLink, or to find out how to get started, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

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