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Which formats work best for medical education?

Posted by Caroline Halford

I bet you want me to say something like ‘On-demand webinars – look no further for educational excellence. They are the BEST way for doctors to learn’. But if it was that simple, every educational provider would be doing wall-to-wall webinars, doctors would have all the knowledge they need, and we could go home early.

In reality, we know that it’s more complicated than that.  There is no ‘one size fits all’.  

Springer Nature’s 2020 survey to oncologists found that due to time constraints, cancer specialists only have <60 mins to consume education.  And one of their main bug-bears is that education is not in their preferred format.

However, Springer Healthcare’s 2022 survey (completed by ~800 healthcare professionals) found that oncologists like a range of educational formats: From downloadable PDFs, to chapterised webinars, through to interactive case studies and live events.

So how do we engage HCPs in their preferred format?


Blended learning is key to success

Here’s an example of how Springer Healthcare IME has used a blended learning approach in a recent programme on precision medicine for thyroid cancer.*

This was a program to equip specialists with the knowledge, confidence, and competence in identifying patients with specific tumour types, detect biomarkers, learn about latest treatments and guidelines, and put this all into clinical practice. Easy, right?

We know this was a ‘big ask’, and that one format would not plug all these gaps, so we put together a schedule of buildable formats that allowed the expert audience to learn, explore, interact, and gain confidence in a risk-free environment.


Here’s how we did it

Step 1.     LIVE event.  Yes – it’s true – doctors still like face-to-face education.  And since the key experts in thyroid cancer were going to be at the World Congress of Thyroid Cancers (WCTC), we organised an IME symposium.  To keep it engaging and relatable, we used real-life cases. And lots of time for audience questions.

Step 2.     Make it available ONLINE.  Because not everyone has the budget to fly to a conference, we ensured it was stream-able.

Step 3.     ON-DEMAND. Because some doctors are too busy saving lives to watch a live webinar, we chapterised the event and made it available on-demand.

Step 4.     Let it sink in with AUDIO and VISUAL.  The audience questions from the WCTC symposium were golden. So we published a series of on-demand vodcasts based on these topics, allowing learners to do a deeper dive into topics like treatment selection, timings, and safety.

Step 5.     Make it personal with INTERACTIVE CASES. Allowing the experts to explore their learning by interacting with patient cases is a great way to put the knowledge into action. Different patients, different test results, linking back to guidelines and best practice. If the learners got the wrong answer, explanations are given and they can loop back to the core education.


“I greatly enjoyed this – I like how the simulation format lets you review key info faster.  It made for improved retention of the information. I felt I focused more instead of passively listening.” Quote from case study learner


How to make sure your IME programme delivers outcomes

I like to use the tried and trusted ‘Who what when where why’ formula:

  • WHO… Are you trying to reach? Gather as much information as you can gather about their demographics?
  • WHERE… Do they go to learn?
  • WHEN… Is the best time to reach them? For example, surgeons will have a very different schedule compared with cardiologists
  • WHAT… Are the gaps in their knowledge?
  • WHAT… Will a successful programme have taught them? Is it confidence that they are doing the right thing? Is it the ability to identify the right patient? Is it the ability to use guidelines adherently?
  • HOW… Are you going to tell if the programme has been successful? (Hint: clicks/impressions are not enough)
  • HOW… Are they going to find your programme? In a crowded world of many platforms, how will you drive engagement
  • WHY… Will they be interested in clicking on your link? If you have addressed the above questions properly, this answer will come easily


To find out more

Check out our website, where we host all our IME/CME programmes

Sign up to, our sister medical education platform, for many programmes

Let me know your thoughts or questions at



*This program was funded by a grant for Independent Medical Education provided by Lilly. The Company had no input to the content.