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Culturally Competent

In an industry of acronyms, medical animations must follow the letter of the law.

One of the challenges of being a medical animation vendor is the sheer number of rules and regulations. When medical education agencies produce Continuing Medical Education (CME) healthcare-centric videos or virtual reality (VR) experiences, they don’t have time to explain to animation studios the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the med-legal review (MLR) process and industry jargon. For instance, the Sunshine Act, aka section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), delineates a very clear line between education and marketing and it is vital we don’t cross that line.

Producers who understand the Medical Legal Review (MLR) process require fewer rounds of revisions which means less time, labor, and cost for the agency on projects.  

To be in compliance with the Sunshine Act, pharmaceutical companies employ Medical Science Liaisons, or MSLs, to raise awareness on new research and developments discovered through medical advancements, but MSLs are prohibited from mentioning the drug’s name. This education occurs primarily through sponsoring initiatives at medical congresses and trade shows. Healthcare professionals make the rounds at these events, visiting disease awareness booths of major companies like Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, where MSLs staff the individual booths, and are very circumspect about maintaining the line between education and marketing.

The education component consists of breakout panels, where expert Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), discuss any new findings about the mechanism of disease (MOD) or the drug’s mechanism of action (MOA).

One of the key components to educating healthcare professionals about MODs or MOAs is the use of animation. Animations are uniquely suited to bring the microscopic world to life, explain physiology, and the interactions between cells, proteins, and the drug’s pharmacological effect to treat a targeted condition. 2D or 3D animation is used to illustrate how drugs exploit a weakness to either keep pathogens from multiplying and/or teach the body to fend for itself.

Mechanism Digital produces animated videos, mixed reality experiences, and touchscreen/table activities. One of my favorite phases of a project is helping an agency choose which media type will be most fitting to tell their story and attract the largest number of visitors to a booth. Working across an array of technologies and formats, we develop visuals to support KOL explanations of MODs/MOAs to other healthcare professionals. One benefit interactive technologies have over passive animation is the ability to track metrics of how many visitors engaged with our apps and what their knowledge level or interest was.  This in turn helps agencies inform messaging for marketing and sales departments to use in non-CME opportunities.  

With COVID rates plummeting and vaccine rates soaring, resuming in-person conventions seems to be just around the corner — which means it will soon be time to dust off the VR goggles and really make a splash at medical conferences. In my next post I’ll be talking about a VR project we worked on to educate physicians about neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH).  

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