March 1, 2021Erica Tennenhouse, PhD
Ralph Taylor, chief executive officer at Sysmex America, Inc., is responsible for the day-to-day management and strategy in the Americas. Ralph is in charge of strategic growth for flow cytometry and Latin America business. Prior to joining Sysmex, Ralph served as vice president of cellular analysis strategic marketing at Beckman Coulter, for 19 years. Ralph is active in several industry associations and is also a board member of AdvaMed Dx. He holds a graduate management degree from the University of Greenwich, London, and an undergraduate degree in medical laboratory sciences from Paddington College, London.
Q: Why did Sysmex decide to develop virtual instructor-led instrument training for its customers?
A: We looked at the conventional train-the-trainer model for learning within the IVD industry, where two people— usually senior staff members—travel to a company’s headquarters and spend a week training. They then become the lab educators, so you are reliant on those two people imparting the knowledge on how to run, operate, and troubleshoot the instrument. We couldn’t quite put our finger on why these trained operators’ retention of the material was not sticking. Considering retention research and the Forgetting Curve theory, we knew we had to find a solution to help our customers fill the natural decline of memory retention. With adults only retaining about 40 percent of what they learn, the train-the-train model was failing. Information wasn’t being communicated fully across the whole lab as it was relying on the retention capability of two people.
Q: How does your training model work?
A: We use a tell-show-do training model where the instructor tells the learners, then shows the learners on camera and then sends the learners to their instrument to do the exercise. When learners come back to class, retention poll questions are completed, and question and answer discussion takes place. The tell-show-do process is repeated segment after segment. We can all sit and read a book, and watch someone doing something, but when you do it yourself, that’s when the real retention takes place. It’s the reinforcement through the live instruction that we feel is the big difference from a web-based approach where someone watches someone do a process and the interaction isn’t there. Any Sysmex customer has access to our virtual instructor-led training. If the lab hires new members of staff and they’ve never operated a Sysmex instrument before, they can just sign up for a class—there’s no restriction on the number of people. The big advantage is that the access to training is continuous and you’re not relying on passed down knowledge to train people on how to run the analyzer, and that helps with efficiency for the lab staff. We continually refresh our courses, so the labs are benefitting from the most up-to-date information.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about your Center for Learning?
A: Our Center for Learning here in Vernon Hills, Illinois, is a 98,000 square-foot building in which we have seven state-of-the-art broadcast-capable studios. Each studio has a team of professional camera operators, we have editing staff available, and we can even do our training in a foreign language. The instructors are taught and trained how to be in front of a camera and how to run virtual training.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your laboratory instrument training?
A: We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions and this is where, for us, the virtual instructor-led training has served a purpose, because we don’t require people to travel for it. So, we’ve been able to keep pace with all of the normal training programs that we would offer our customer base. We haven’t missed a beat because the travel piece was never a requirement. You would think our virtual instructor-led training was created out of the restrictions that COVID-19 has placed on all of us, but in fact we started this back in 2014. We had the technology and it’s allowed us to adapt very quickly and be very flexible in terms of offering our customers access to training.