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Bringing Design Thinking to Medical Meetings

Compliance is dry, but Changemaker Diana van Brakel says it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s her story.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Diana van Brakel
Manager Continuing Education
Kenes Group

For her design-thinking educational leadership in the strict, fast-changing world of continuing medical education

What’s Changing?
In the medical and scientific world, there have been a lot of changes for education in reaction to industry compliance codes and accrediting body criteria. These challenges have forced us to re-evaluate how we do business and also where we can find new opportunities. As an educational expert, I’ve found an opportunity in linking online education with the content at the face-to-face events that we organize. It’s not replacing attendance at live meetings but it’s adding another educational opportunity for learners.  By offering online education linked to the event, you can benefit from the advantages of both learning methods. 

I don’t see online education or live education as two different things. In our society, we are continuously learning and I really believe that in order to engage with your target audience, it means connecting with them before and after the meeting, and throughout the year. And it’s important to give them the opportunity to network with each other and exchange ideas after they’ve been hearing new things at a meeting. I want to create learning environments and situations where people feel comfortable enough to learn and the content has been created based on the needs of the target audience.

What’s Next?
We’ve started working more and more on blending learning formats, and on engaging participants by setting up pre- and post-meeting educational activities. Looking forward, we would like to keep improving learning outcomes by focusing more on continuous education. You need the face-to-face experience to achieve some results; others work in an online environment. I really want to focus more on making the most of each.

Managing Change
My team is responsible for ensuring that all events are in compliance with industry codes and all other regulations, from accrediting bodies or governments alike. We need to be sure there’s no bias in the education and that it’s effective and transparent. Internally at Kenes, I’ve instituted a complete compliance training program for all our teams (as well as for clients, to the extent that they want it). Things we were doing 10 years ago are not possible anymore, so we need to understand the rules and come up with novel ways to engage with our audiences and transfer new knowledge and competencies.

At this point, most of the Kenes teams are aware of compliance issues, but it’s really important that they keep up to date—that’s where my team comes in. The lines of communication that we have established are now providing a real benefit, especially for global teams that don’t have the opportunity to sit together regularly. 

Thinking Differently
Compliance is, of course, very dry. With my team, we’re trying to make it more fun, by offering different ways to introduce it and always explain the “why.” We need to explain the reasoning behind all these codes. To do this, I think how you deliver your message is really crucial. Often speakers and trainers are focused on what they have to say, the content, but how they say it is also equally important, especially with face-to-face trainings.

Training Advice
Always try to engage with your audience! No matter who’s your audience and what’s your message, it’s very important that you try to understand where the gap is and what’s needed. Don’t try to start planning your educational content too early. 

Got an Hour to Spare?
I always try to do things that make me laugh. I really love spending time with my friends and family, and I have fun dancing and traveling. I’m lucky I’ve been able to explore the world both through work and in my private life. 




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