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Applying e-learning to pharma and healthcare: Interview (Includes interview)

E-learning offers the ability to achieve high levels of coverage among a target audience and ensures the core messages communicated are consistent, ensuring all learners receive the same training. Platforms also offer the potential for learning to be engaging, offering a mix of video, gamification and interactive content.

E-learning is being well-received is with pharmaceuticals and healthcare, especially with production operatives and laboratory technicians, where removing staff from the workplace for long periods can be disruptive. In this arena remote working carries many advantages, in terms of saving time and catering to a wide range of learning styles.

One area where e-learning can be effectively applied is with contamination control and hygiene, where it is important to demonstrate sound theory with good practice. The not-for-profit Pharmaceutical Microbiology Interest Group (Pharmig) has recently launched an interactive e-learning platform, and cleaning and disinfection has been selected as the first subject. Pharmig is a professional body and training provider operating in the global pharma and healthcare sectors. The topic of cleaning and disinfection is key to contamination control and the manufacture of safe medicinal products.

To understand how the platform was developed and advantages of digital learning, Digital Journal spoke with Laura Guardi, a committee member of Pharmig and the co-lead developer of the module together with Rachel Blount.

Digital Journal: What are the advantages of e-learning for pharmaceutical organizations?

Laura Guardi: E-learning is well established as a form of training for the pharmaceutical industry, providing a flexible format that can be integrated with in-house training-packages.

DJ: What are the drivers for this form of training?

Guardi: There are three reasons. The first is to be engaging. The Pharmig online training portal is easy to use. Each module uses a combination of live footage and animation is to bring training topics to life. Comprehension is then assessed by multiple choice questions.

The second reason was to introduce flexibility. Users are able to complete the task at a time that suits them, avoiding the need to assign “classroom time” which can be difficult to schedule. The User can pause and recommence training at any time, minimizing impact on operations.

The third reason is to make training success measurable. On completion of a module a certificate is generated confirming the date and time of completion, name and job title of the user, training topics, and overall score.
Overall, innovative ways of training to meet needs of the workforce. That is: flexible, low cost, and accessed remotely.

DJ: Why did Pharmig decide to develop an e-learning platform?

Guardi: The Pharming Training portal was developed in response to feedback from members. E-learning was natural fit with the other types of training and educational materials that we offer, such as seminars, webinars, conferences and a variety of publications.

DJ: How does the new platform differ to others in the market?

Guardi: As a not-for-profit organization we can offer high-quality learning packages at a reasonable cost. Rates for our members are extremely competitive. Non-members will find that joining will not only give them a considerable saving on the e-learning modules, but will also provide them with the additional benefits of being part of our organization.

The Site Administrator has full oversight of the progress of training for each User, even down to the questions they answered incorrectly, so that additional coaching can be provided where necessary. This approach combines the flexibility of e-learning with the opportunity for discussion that occurs in classroom based training.

DJ: What is the scope of the first module?

Guardi: The topic for the first module is Cleaning and Disinfection of Cleanrooms. The module has three chapters.

The three parts of the Pharmig e-learning platform for cleaning and disinfection.

The three parts of the Pharmig e-learning platform for cleaning and disinfection.

The first chapter is an introduction to contamination in cleanrooms, which looks at the importance of controlling contamination in the cleanroom and classification limits for microorganisms and particulates.

The second chapter is about disinfectant selection, storage and usage. This includes the types of disinfectants and cleaning agents, plus the preparation and storage of solutions.

The third chapter focuses on cleaning techniques, covering the control of cleaning equipment; the importance of cleaning prior to disinfection; the correct sequence of cleaning and disinfection tasks; good mopping and wiping techniques; and how to dispose of waste solutions safely.

DJ: Who is the module aimed at, in terms of target audience?

Guardi: The module is ideal for people who are new to cleanroom environments, and anyone involved with cleaning and disinfection. Anyone that enters the cleanroom should have this underpinning knowledge. Operators, cleaners, Quality Control and Quality Assurance personnel will all find this useful.

DJ: How was the module developed?

Guardi: We wanted the first training modules to have a wide appeal to our members. As cleaning and disinfection is a critical part of a company’s contamination control strategy it was an ideal topic to begin with. It is essential that people performing these tasks understand the importance of their role.

Filming for the module took place at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT), a world-class pharmaceutical training facility in Ireland. We also worked with contamination control experts from the companies Ecolab and Contec, who kindly provided material for filming and additional footage.

Flyer for the e-learning platform from Pharmig.

Flyer for the e-learning platform from Pharmig.

DJ: How important is the assessment part of the module?

Guardi: Assessment of the effectiveness of the training is a critical part of the module. The Site Administrator can configure the settings to their company specification in terms of the pass mark and maximum number of attempts for each question. The ability to view which questions an individual answered incorrectly enables additional coaching to be provided if necessary. On successful completion of the module each user can print out a certificate of training that meets Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) documentation requirements.

DJ: How did you address security and access issues?

Guardi: The Pharmig Training portal has been developed with GMP in mind. Each user has a unique identification and password. Though the Site Administrator can set the pass mark and maximum number of attempts for a question, settings are otherwise locked. A simple audit trail of activity is also included.

A cleanroom operator undertaking the Pharmig training on cleaning and disinfection.

A cleanroom operator undertaking the Pharmig training on cleaning and disinfection.

Being web-based, companies do not download software directly onto their computers or servers, so this also lowers cybersecurity risks.

DJ: What are plans for future module?

Guardi: At this stage we want to continue with topics with wide appeal, before tackling niche areas. As such we have selected “Introduction to Pharmaceutical Microbiology” for our next module.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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