Adapting to user preferences in medical education

Adapting to user preferences in medical education

Technology is now at a point where the transition from print to electronic has gone beyond simply putting words on a screen. The vastly increased methods of access and consumption of information mean the ways in which people are choosing when and how to learn are changing. The ways in which we, as information providers, can direct and provide people with the right information at the right time are also changing.

People increasingly see themselves as users interacting with products and not just as customers of a transaction. It’s a transformation where the distinction is important: moving from a one-way interaction to a two-way discussion. Readers of print are engaged in a dialog with the printed word, but that dialog is private. Readers of materials online are engaged in a more social discussion of the content, they can share their thoughts with other readers, other readers can comment on those thoughts. In addition, the publisher of digital materials can track how the user interacts with the materials; which images they view most frequently, which paragraphs they (the community of users) highlight most frequently. These changes in delivery from print to digital have altered how users interact with materials and it is our job to understand those changes and optimize the user’s experience.

This transformation in how users interact requires Elsevier to put the user at the centre of the product design process.

Continuing our publishing heritage, we are not only creating world class content in a format that is well-established and the rules of engagement are well understood, we are now, creating world class content in a medium where the user chooses the rules of interaction.

Historically we would focus on the content creator to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content. Now, we nurture a continual partnership by building our products in an agile way: we take the constant influx of feedback from our users and implement it into an ongoing series of real improvements in how the user can engage with the content that we are creating.

Essentially, we take what we do well with books – engaging with content matter experts and ensuring our books are written by authors at the top of their field – and are building on this by augmenting the content to add an interactive dimension, making it available to the user whenever they want it. This is why we have built our Design Partner Program, to engage with students and faculty to understand how they, the users, interact with software to enhance their learning experiences.

Our flexible practices are now embedded in our DNA; we look forward to going even further with this in the years to come. In March, we launched the next phase of ClinicalKey Student, which includes assessment capabilities. We know that success here is about demonstrating efficacy for our users, and that is why we will continue to work hand-in-hand with them.


Elizabeth Munn
Managing Director Education EMEALAAP, Elsevier

Elizabeth is responsible for the development and execution of the overall vision and strategy for Elsevier's Education segment across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific (EMEALAAP). With a career spanning over 17 years at Elsevier, she has extensive experience across multiple business units and the healthcare education industry. She is passionate about how Elsevier and their education solutions can transform, reach and serve medical, nursing and other health professional students, faculties and institutions.

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