It was 2013 when Dr. Krassen Nedeltchev arrived at the Cantonal Hospital of Aarau to take on the role of Chairman for the department of Neurology. A world-renowned expert in the area of stroke medicine and other neurological disorders, he was eager to create something ‘extraordinary’ in the area of medical education and knowledge sharing.
“I wanted to build a sophisticated CME program of unprecedented content quality at scale,” Dr. Nedeltchev said. “Technology enabled webinar courses in real-time; six uniquely curated scientific offerings over a one-year period, by and for neurology specialists anywhere in the world.” Armed with an idea brief in hand, he reached out to three of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies to inquire about a collaborative sponsorship. Shortly thereafter, the Swiss Neurology Webinar series was born.
As the program continued to expand successfully, a formal Advisory Board to include both scientists and physicians, across various clinical areas of neurology was created to discuss and suggest relevant, up-to-the-minute topics for future course offerings throughout the year.
“We were having tremendous participation with the webinars and interest was growing rapidly, so we started to think about how to evolve the medical education program even further,” said Dr. Nedeltchev. “How could we leverage platform technologies beyond webinars whereby professionals could access courses on-demand, at any time, from anywhere they had an internet connection?”
Next generation medical education
Bringing the next generation of innovative medical education solutions to life would require some external expert resources. A conversation with a medical affairs director at Baxter Healthcare in Switzerland yielded an interesting referral.
“The Medical Affairs team at Baxter told me of a talented group of people doing great work in the medical communications area; I met with them and was immediately impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm,” he explained.
Together, along with sponsorship from three pharmaceutical companies and an advisory board of neurologists, as well as neuroimmunology experts, they created the Swiss Academy of Neuroimmunology (SANI), an online entity offering six highly specialized courses each accredited by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACCME®), as well as the Swiss Medical Association (FMH).
Specialists in neurology, neuroimmunology or other areas of medicine can log into Academy courses from anywhere in the world and earn CME credits upon successfully passing the final test.
Distance learning success
After offering online accredited courses for one full year, a performance summary of the SANI e-learning initiative was prepared for review.
“We never expected to get such a broad geographic reach of participants from so many different countries so quickly,” said Rachel Park, who led the account management for MedComms Experts.
Dr. Nedeltchev was even more surprised. “I was amazed to see how many professionals we could reach with our course offerings online,” he said. “So many different countries beyond just Switzerland were represented and attaining their CME credits with our course content.”
“We were really excited about the results and the quality of doctors signing up for our e-learning program.”
The communications team at MedComms Experts created an awareness campaign to drive traffic to the online academy by targeting 950 Switzerland-based neurologists announcing the new CME initiative. As more people enrolled in the courses, word-of-mouth referrals accelerated across the continent. It was then that a larger opportunity began to crystalize.
“While we set out to share knowledge through a quality e-learning platform, we realized we were also building a diverse community of neurology experts but we were lacking a way to enable an exchange of information between them,” Park said. “That was the moment we came up with the idea of a centralized ‘go-to’ home base for best practices in neurology, by specialists, for specialists, and we named it Brainwork.”
A Facebook for neurologists
Brainwork launched to great success and has been gaining traction. An active social network for healthcare professionals with an interest in neurology, members can sign up free of charge and get access to accredited e-learning courses and recent conference summaries, as well as gain insight into important academic research findings from all over the world. Highlights and video interviews from important events are shared with the community and all members can contribute and share content in real time.
As Brainwork extends its member and content base, the projections are better than ever. Great content and great teamwork are proving a winning combination. “The quality of the scientific content that MedComms Experts delivers is outstanding. Combined with their strong creative design competency, they truly are a one-of-a-kind partner to work with. They are highly motivated, enthusiastic and very smart. Working with them almost feels like family, and that makes for great outcomes!”
“The MedComms Experts team understood our vision and executed against it flawlessly. Together, we are creating a community of like-minded experts to share, collaborate and grow the body of knowledge so critical to the field of neurology,” Dr. Nedeltechev said. “Brainwork is a harbinger of social sharing in the medical profession. We want to enable this dialogue among healthcare professionals so that everyone can learn.”