By: Manuel Rivera León

Bogotá, Colombia

Bayer, the pharmaceutical industry giant, finds e-learning to be an extraordinary resource in improving its coaching and training of their medical sales representatives and district managers. This article is based on our interview with Rafael Vargas, Ph.D. of Educational Sciences, specializing in Biology and Chemistry, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Latin America.

Bayer’s training platform, Pharmaestro, was created 7 years ago when they partnered with Moodlerooms (formerly Nivel Siete), the largest Moodle partner in Latin America. It has since evolved to become a regional training model for success within the company.

Bayer’s path to success followed three distinct stages:

Stage one: the challenge

Bayer needed to train its sales force – most of whom were unfamiliar with the pharmaceutical and medical industries. They were faced with educating them on the science of their pharmaceuticals as well as training them to confidently and comfortably communicate with doctors.

Bayer did offer an intranet-accessed virtual library, but that was useful for content review only. All other study materials were sent via email which was not guaranteed to go through and was impossible to manage.

The majority of the training took place face-to-face training, which also had its challenges. It was considered:

· Too long and tedious as it lasted 5-6 weeks

·Expensive as food, transportation and accommodation expenses were incurred

·Exhausting for the trainer

Stage two: researching solutions

Bayer started looking initially for a multimedia content creation solution and in their search came across Moodlerooms, a learning management system (LMS). After several meetings with Moodlerooms, they began to value the benefits an LMS offers beyond that of solely creating engaging content. They began to see how the implementation of an LMS platform would enable them to graphically customize their content so that it would be eye-catching, but would also enable them to manage grades, setup exams, present and manage interactive content, incorporate forums and chats to keep communication more fluid, etc.

And so, Bayer determined that their best approach would be to partner with Moodlerooms (formerly Nivel Siete), a process which included:

· Training on Moodle

·Developing their e-learning skills of uploading, managing and administering courses

· Acquiring 24/7 support

Overall, Bayer found the Moodlerooms implementation process fast and efficient.

Stage three: success

Since their e-learning launch, the outcomes have been very rewarding:

·Leaners come to class prepared since they have advance access to the course content

·Examination feedback enables the learner to improve and succeed

·Communication with the learner is much more personalized and thereby effective

· Live sessions are offered to answer questions and resolve concerns

·Significant cost savings due to no longer incurring the face-to-face course expenses

·Able to offer a broader range of courses

·Learner flexibility as they can advance at their own pace and whenever they would like given 24×7 accessibility; they can even train minutes before they begin their visit to the doctor

Today, the platform is fully established within Bayer. The sales force knows that this is their single source for everything they need to be successful at their job. The impact has been so positive that other business units in the company, such as consumer care and animal products, have begun to implement similar e-learning strategies to achieve their own objectives.

*Rafael Vargas, Doctor and Bachelor of Educational Sciences, specialized in Biology and Chemistry, Bayer

Photographer: Victoria Holguín