Write Medicine

Cultivating a Visual Mindset: Infographics in Continuing Healthcare Education

November 14, 2022 Alexandra Howson Season 4 Episode 31
Write Medicine
Cultivating a Visual Mindset: Infographics in Continuing Healthcare Education
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Infographics offer a powerful tool in our education armamentarium. 

We process images much faster than we do text, so visual communication saves time and allows more effective data retention. 

On this episode of Write Medicine, I'm joined by Bhaval Shah PhD and Karen Roy MSc—co-founders of Infograph-Ed, a company delivering engaging visual communications in healthcare. 

We talk about the power of visual communications in continuing healthcare education, how to develop a visual mindset and current trends in visual communications. We also discuss the design process and how to create effective visual communication through the following strategies: 

  • Communicate a value proposition
  • Identify what your audience is looking for
  • Deliver accessible member-driven content
  • Evaluate your resources
  • Analyze feedback to focus content on the audience's requirements.

Resources from Infograph-Ed and Others
4-step plan: Designing Information with Impact
Better Ways to Present Information and Data
Color tool
Nightingale viz
McCandless D. Information is Beautiful. 2000. Collins.
Kirk A. Visualizing Datawebsite

Connect with Infograph-Ed
Karen Roy, CEO and Co-Founder: karen@infograph-ed.com


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Alex Howson:

Hello and welcome. I'm your host Alex Howson, and this is Write Medicine, a biweekly podcast that explores best practices in creating content that connects with and educates health professionals. I'm a former nurse and an academic who's now a writer and researcher creating and evaluating education content for health profess. I also teach medical writers how to enrich their continuing medical education writing niche. If your work involves planning, designing, delivering, or evaluating education for health professionals, this podcast is for you.

Scientific data can be challenging to understand. Visually presenting information helps ensure that data are clear and compelling. Helping us to understand. and as we process images far more rapidly than text visual communication, saves time and allows more effective data retention. Creating a powerful tool in our education repertoire. On this episode of Write medicine, I'm joined by Bhaval Shah and Karen Roy co-founders of Infograph-Ed, a company delivering, engaging visual materials and healthcare. We talk about the power of visual communications in a healthcare setting. How do you develop official mindset and current trends in visual communications? We talk about the design process and how to create effective visual communication. Join

Alex Howson:

Hello and welcome. I'm your host Alex Howson, and this is Write Medicine, and I'm here today with Karen Roy and Bhaval Shah of Infograph Ed. And we're gonna talk about visual communication in continuing education for health professionals. Welcome Karen and Bhaval. It's so good to see you.

Karen Roy:

You too, Alex. Always a pleasure. Great to be here. I'm

Alex Howson:

glad that we're able to spend some time together. So let's start by talking

Karen Roy:

about who you are

Alex Howson:

and what you do. A little bit about the work that you do.

Bhaval Sah:

Hi I'm Bhaval Shah. I am president and co-founder at Infograph Ed. I've been here for something like seven years, and at Infograph Ed I oversee the creative and scientific team. So we are a group of creatives. As well as scientists. A lot of us have that mixed left, right brain mix, and we create infographics in

Karen Roy:

the healthcare space. And I'm Karen. I'm a CEO and I've also been here from for seven years, which made me smile because it's actually Bhaval and I have been here from day one, cuz we founded the company together. My responsibilities here at the company are overseeing the business strategy. And administration side of things as well as co-developing new assets and projects for our clients alongside Bhaval and the creative team.

Alex Howson:

I love a good story about women founding companies and getting into business with each other. Can you talk a little bit about how you find each

Karen Roy:

other? Sure. My, my brief background is I had a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, which culminated in me finding my way into a CME department the grant supporter side of things, and that's actually where Bhaval and I met. So she came in as a lead of one of our franchise areas in cme, and we worked alongside each other for a number of years. And I was always impressed by Bhaval's insights and her ability to get to the point. Get to the crux of the matter when we were putting strategic plans together and so forth. I actually left the company after a merger and was consulting for a while and then got the opportunity to Present data at a conference, which I'll let B tell you that story of, because in parallel she had also exited the pharmaceutical industry was exploring her artistic passions.

Bhaval Sah:

So I was showing some of my artistic side of things at a trade show in New York City. It was textiles and Karen was helping me out at this trade show. And it was. Free She was helping me out for free and I said to her, Hey, Karen, let me repay you for this amazing favor that you've done. What can I do? Let's barter services. She said, Of course, I have the exact thing in mind, a project where I've been asked to present my data at a medical meeting. And can you do the poster? And I said, Yeah, great, love to, but can I do it in my way? Can I do it with the use of infographics? And Karen said, Yep, have at it. Go for it. And the rest is history because I think Karen, you had a really great presentation and reaction to that poster.

Karen Roy:

Yeah, there was, I think, and I was gonna present really compelling data, and I had lots of people coming up to talk to me, but the only question they had was, who did your poster? So we realized then that there was something in it. And I remember calling Bhaval from the car on the way home from the conference saying, let's talk about this. Let's consider this Further. So we jumped in and formed the company and it started small. But now as Bhaval said, we have a whole team working with us and our client base has expanded from CME providers into other stakeholders in the healthcare space too.

Alex Howson:

I love that you just, you jumped right in. You saw the success, you saw the effectiveness of visual communication, and you went for it. What is it that that you find or that is really compelling about visual information? Because it really pulls people in a way that. Text doesn't, obviously in a poster situation where you're looking at something at a distance, but even in, in the kind of small, smaller screen or smaller formats as well, we're drawn to visual information, so why?

Bhaval Sah:

So for me, creating art has always been a passion of mine. It's a hobby that I do, outside of work, quote unquote. And as we just mentioned, it was partially something I was doing as as job for a while there after leaving the pharma industry. Like art, very passionate. In my PhD and Postoc days I used to always struggle to follow scientific presentations that my peers gave on their data. They, they were full of words and a lot of data and often quite hard to follow and understand. So for my own presentations, I always used to add as many visuals and many animations as I could, and they always landed really well. So has been something that's always been in the back of how I have presented in the past. So about 10 years ago, I started seeing these new. At the time, infographics popping up everywhere, being used to explain things in marketing, breaking down complex information. And, here's a way that you can quickly, easily understand information, but they're presented in a fun way to look at. And I just hit the mark, I thought, this is great. This is what we need to understand. Complex information. So I started looking at their use in healthcare and realized actually they're not at the time used in healthcare at all. So when Karen came to me with this poster presentation I jumped at the chance to use them in that format and in that setting.

Alex Howson:

Do you get any pushback at all from clients or other people in the space about the use of visual information for what is often very serious and very intense? Data do.

Bhaval Sah:

We do sometimes get pushback. Often it's faculty who have maybe only seen visual information in the marketing side of things and more text based information where it's more scientific as it were. But I have to say we've done a pretty good job at sometimes turning people around because when they see how we present the information, how we break up complex pieces into small chunks then they start to say, Oh, I understand now why this is presented. Visually in this way broken down. And then they'll use those same visuals that we may have created for a CME activity in their lecture series or something like that. And they'll keep coming back to them and saying, Hey, this has been great. This is something that works. And people are understanding it better. To answer question, for sure, there's pushback and I'd like to think it's initially and then, people do change their.

Karen Roy:

I think people who do push back can fall into the drop of thinking. We're dumbing down the science or oversimplifying, so they're confusing simplification with clarification or the clarity that a well designed visual or infographic can bring. And I'm old enough to remember when we were working with 35 milli slides and I remember working with presenters who, who thought that? Using animations and videos was very promotional and education and training needed to be very stayed and boring looking, quite frankly, and just taking, charts and tables from a manuscript and sticking them on a slide or was the way to go. So I think we're out growing that. But as Bhaval said, once people have worked with us and get that experie. They can see that they can have we're maintaining the integrity of the scientific information just as much as presenting it in a more appealing way. And the

Alex Howson:

proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating, you get great response to the the material that you create. So what does it take then to create effective visual communication? So

Bhaval Sah:

I would say that the right skill set is key in creating effective visual me medical education, or any type of healthcare information. So just as you have different types of writers who are best at different types of writing, regulatory writing versus patient. Oriented writing. It's the same thing with visual approach. And really I have to say, you don't have to be an artist, but the key skill set we're looking for here is being able to think visually. So for me, I, when I'm reading a passage or trying to listen to something and understanding it, I. See it play out in my head, and if it is very complex, I'll often draw it out on a piece of paper. Taking notes is always visual for me. Always Lots of arrows, connections, boxes and shapes and that sort of thing. And so that visual thinking approach is key. The next thing I think, which is also key, is to understand the subject matter as much as possible. So if you understand it really well, you're going to be able to visualize it as best as you can. So what is the message? What are showing or explaining? Do you need to break it up into more pieces? Layer the information. In an order, for example. Or, and so on. And so once you start understanding what those key messages of your information are, then those visuals that you might have started to see in the first place, all start to fall in place. And then really the graphics and making it look pretty is the last part of it, and that's the part that you can then potentially work with somebody else to pass on your ideas and thoughts to someone. So another key piece I think that needs to be mentioned is keeping things simple. If a visual is really complex and you're asking someone to spend time decoding a complex visual, then that's no different really to a long piece of text and decoding that. So think about the simplicity of your visual. Maybe even break that. Into small chunks, and that's something we do a lot of chunking information and layering it so that you're presenting on your small piece of information at a time is a key in our approach. And then we also can add in interactivity sometimes so that the learner is unveiling information. One piece at a time when they're ready to move on to that next piece. So on, click off a button that they see the next piece of information play out in front of them. So those are all some key pieces on creating good infographics.

Alex Howson:

And of course you're absolutely talking the language of instructional designers in terms of layering and chunking and micro-learning and I love that expression. You two, one is visual thinking, so I want to dig into that just a little bit, but also that notion of unveiling the information and the action and interactivity that is embedded in that word. There's a lot. There's a lot of action there to peel away different layers of meaning and understanding. I think it's really interesting and the visual thinking piece. As you were talking, I was thinking, I'm a heavy reader, I've always loved reading and I love text, but I'm also conscious that whenever I'm reading something, I'm always looking for the pictures. Where are the pictures? And I love to look for the images first. And I. How common it, and as you described that process of creating some sort of visual as you're reading text, I wonder how common that is. Because I feel like I do that too. I'm I'm linking things in my head and I'm mapping things out as I'm reading information. Is that a thing, is that word common then we might believe it to.

Karen Roy:

I think so. Ab absolutely. When Bhaval and I started talking about this way back, I would say you're the artist. I was programmed to think I wasn't creative simply because I wasn't good at art at school because I couldn't draw and, as Bhaval explained how she works through information, I can. I do that as well. I'm very much the motor effort of drawing things out and drawing arrows between things and my notes and connecting them. Really reinforces that connectivity or the dependency between pieces of content. So I think people don't have to worry that, I'm not creative or I'm not artistic, quote unquote, but just a lot of it is about organization and flow. Would you agree was that's at the heart of it and then getting to it to the design sides, as you said? Yeah, exactly.

Alex Howson:

And it's that beautiful connection of, you said it earlier, b left and right brain thinking. So that there is a holistic, it's not a, it's a holistic approach to developing content to really support, to support learning. And that's going to become increasingly important or has become increasingly important in continuing education for health professionals because they have so much to learn. Frequently, repeatedly on the run. What do you see as the rationale for taking a visual or infographics based approach to communicating biomedical or clinical information, especially for for learners, for health professionals who are engaged in continuing educat?

Karen Roy:

So I think from the learner's perspective, we've touched on on this already. It's one main advantage is efficiency. So we know it takes far less time to consume information in a visual manner rather than navigating through a lot of text and as Volvo said, designing content in a way that makes. Easier reduces the cognitive load for them to try and figure out what's going on. We've all seen the terribly designed slide and usually the presenter says, I hope you can see this at the back of the room, or Let me walk you through it, and I feel if you have to introduce your work with that disclaimer. Then maybe take a look at how you put it together in the first place. I know, sorry,

Alex Howson:

this is a bit of a mess, but

Karen Roy:

Yes. There's a lot near to see. Yes. And and people get very fixated on things like slide count when, three slides that build on each other, you can probably get through them faster than one badly designed slide. So the design effort put behind, how we construct our graphics, make. Easier. So there's that efficiency for our learners. Could you say learners of today are overburdened with. Information coming at them from everywhere. So it's a very efficient way to communicate today, but also as you were talking about the engagement levels. So by creating opportunities for learners to interact with data, and we do a lot of that now in our. CME programs allowing them to engage directly with the content. They can click around, they can explore the information. It's really putting them in the driving seat and allowing them to navigate to what they want to unveil or uncover as well. As adult learners, we. We're, thinking about answering the questions we have for ourselves, so contrary to a slide deck or a video where the story is linear. and predetermined by the author. In in an interactive format where there's more, so called open navigation, the learner can get to the content they care about the most more quickly. And isn't that all we should? Worry about it also allows us to provide content that's amenable to people at different levels. Maybe someone less familiar with the content would go through the background information where a specialist or an expert just wants to jump to what is the latest evidence and how do I incorporate this into my practice? So I think just how it's presented and the choices. It provides to a learner as well as how easy we make it for them to consume the information is important. And then importantly, today, because we work in a data-centric world as well, with interactivity, we can also track what they're looking at. And provide that information back to the designers of the education. So we see maybe what were the most popular elements of an educational module, what attracted them the most. So then that loop is completed with providing the information back. maybe uncovering some. Ongoing needs as well. And the other population I think we should talk about in, in, as a learner in today's world is patient. And of course, more and more now providers of continuing education for healthcare professionals are also providing education designed for patient consumption. So whether that's direct to patient or clinician delivered patient educational material there's lots of options there for this visual approach. Less heavy. Clear imagery, make it easier for patients to consume the information as well, and as Bhaval's always reminding me, As we develop more and more new ways of doing it, the man on the street, if you will, is very tech savvy these days. They want to, they're looking for things on their smartphones. They want to be able to pick up something that's quick, easy to understand, and then maybe easy to share with others as well. So all of that combined, I think, makes the case for using visuals for that audience as. Absolutely.

Alex Howson:

In that process of layering, is there still a role for text then, do you work with writers who create, textual content that links to the visual information that you're providing?

Bhaval Sah:

or design? Yeah, for sure. Of course well written text to accompany those visuals is key. And we work with scientists in our group who have that science background and who can assimilate, read text read papers, I should say complications, and put it together to form the. Text accompanying the visuals. So that's important. We also take into account, instructional design as you mentioned, Alex and the kinds of things that we have to point out for the learner on an interactive infographic, cme, for example. So instructional text is very carefully thought through as well in that text context that you mention.

Alex Howson:

And you mentioned messages and people often hear that word in the context of marketing, but it's an important word in the context of learning as well, because the learner needs to be able to walk away with the key messages. Yeah. As they're of working through the material that you're providing. Can you talk just a little bit about the The kind of production or the design process in terms of, who's involved in, in, what does that look like when you're beginning a project that is gonna be either completely visual or or play a supporting part.

Bhaval Sah:

Yeah, of course. One of the accompanying materials that we have provided goes through what we call our four step process, and our science designers, as we call them are of trained in this process. So the way we work is we have somebody who has a scientific background who can understand that information very

Karen Roy:

carefully.

Bhaval Sah:

To go through the content that we are provided with from our clients, for example, and they will then strip it down, as it were, to pull out just the main points, the main pieces of information. Once you start doing that, you can very quickly start to see what those messages are and yeah, it's a marketing term, but what we use that word for is to say what is the, what is the main point behind this one piece of. Information, This one chart, what is it saying, this table, What is the main takeaway there? And then our science designers will look through all that information and come up with what we call message titles. And that's a very important thing that we use because it's the message behind the visuals. So even if you're not gonna bother looking at it, and you have five. Look at this thing you can read. If reading is your thing, read the message title and you're done. You've got at least 50% of the information. So that's a big part of what we do. So the science design is pull these pieces together with these items in place come up with ideas for visualization. Put together a lot of the architecture behind how we do these things. So navigation, if it's interactive and that sort of thing. How information's gonna flow from one piece to the other. What buttons are gonna be used where, and then. Pass to a designer who may or may not be a science designer, and then they basically make it look really great. And then maybe we'll code it if it's interactive or maybe that's the end of the project. So that's our process as it were. So we do have science visual thinkers right from the start in the process. Thinking of those messages

Karen Roy:

along the.

Alex Howson:

Back to Karen's point earlier about not necessarily seeing yourself as a creative person and Karen, and I know I'm a little bit older than both of you, but, we're within that kind of cohort. Almost, but I, for me too that, that labeling at school, you're a creative person or a scientific person or None of these Yeah. What how can people think about themselves, if people who are interested in working in this kind of area, how can they start to think about themselves as visual thinkers? How do we enter into that process of beginning to see ourselves in a new way? If we've been told Yeah you're not very creative.

Karen Roy:

I think if it's something that someone wants to try, I think just being conscious, as I said earlier, was when Bhaval was talking about her process as a process, and then I started thinking, Oh, but I do that too. And anyone who's ever been in a meeting room with me with a whiteboard. Will know that I am compelled to jump up and start mapping things out, regardless of what we're talking about. So you may notice that is something that you just do you know yourself as you are communicating to people. How do you organize things around you, around your workspace or around your home? If you're inspired by visuals or you. Things nicely designed around you, but I would say just try it. Try something different. Just instead of, challenge yourself instead of putting six bullet points on a slide, is there, what is the. Even if you have to close your eyes, what is the picture that this is, that this information is painting for you? And then with the use of simple things, I you don't have to be a talented graphic designer. Things like even PowerPoint now have lots of built in tools like Icon. Chart building, things like that. I think the number of times that people default to putting a table in when they could actually chart it out and it would be more compelling. It's just a very simple step. So think of those sort of simple baby steps that you could, start on and see how comfortable you are with it. There's also places to look for. Training if you really want to delve deeper into it and we can provide you some resources for, Oh, that would be great. You want b alluded to this four step process that we use in our team. So we have a like a handout, a PDF summary of that to share. But looking at people like David He's got a wonderful website, I think. Is it Data is Beautiful or something like Yeah, that's

Bhaval Sah:

right. Information

Karen Roy:

is beautiful. Information is beautiful. A guy from leads in the uk, Andy Kirk, actually worked up at the Alliance Annual meeting a few years ago. Both of those act, both of those guys actually run workshops, virtual online work. And our great training resources, Andy Kirk's website is visualizing data.com and looking for those as points of inspiration. So Bhaval always recommends the New York Times, the Guardian at, places that have, infographic. Departments now. That's how telling our big news stories, just thinking of, think about how election coverage, my lord, we're heading into election season again, so for the next two years we're gonna be bombarded with, the map and blue and red states and how that is changing. And so infographics are every. I think if you are, if you're drawn to them, maybe, just being more mindful of it, just having this conversation today might, stimulate someone to just pay more attention to what's around them and think about how they could incorporate that into their work. I love

Alex Howson:

that. It's a great challenge and I love the the kind of mini challenge at the beginning of what you were talking about there in terms of if you've got five bullet points to share, how could you visualize that? What kind of things come to mind? But that kind of makes me think about and we were talking about at the beginning of our conversation where we're all in different rooms with different colors. There's green and orange and red and. Can you talk a little bit about the role of color in in visuals and Karen, you mentioned icons. Are there culturally distinct icons that that. That need to be part of the kind of design process because, in that five bullet point challenge, maybe the image I think about isn't gonna be the same image that you think about. So how do you navigate, color and culturally appropriate or culturally sensitive shape and

Bhaval Sah:

content? That's a great question. Color there are lots of resources available online for giving color palettes that make sense. So colors that work together with each other. And are pleasing to the eye and not jarring one against the other. You'll find those online and we can also provide some some resources as well. So those would be good to look at. In terms of icons, one of the things that. Is a bug bear of mine is the use of icons of different styles across different styles all pulled together on one piece of information. So one might have shadow and then one might be a line drawing icon, and the other might be a solid, interesting, detailed one. And really what you're doing there is adding so many different styles together and adding to that cognitive load that Karen mentioned. And now suddenly you're. Causing your learner to have more to look at and decode and understand why these are all different. Really, they shouldn't be. They should be all universal and same consistent. Look, that's key. These days in terms of culturally appropriate icons, I think that's a brilliant point. There's lots of icons that you can use just across the board. Again, you can go online and find those. PowerPoint also has them that you can just add in and a lot of those types of icons will probably be, okay to use, cuz they're across large platforms and Hopefully vetted in that sense. We are very mindful on our side to be thoughtful about equity and inclusion, so we're always putting different colors in place and that sort of thing. Another thing that we do is not use too much gender where we can. So if it is something that we, if it's an image, we can make gender agnostic, that's the route we take as well. So those are some consider. To take. And you mentioned,

Alex Howson:

Sorry, go

Karen Roy:

ahead. No, go ahead. I think the other thing about color is that one of the lessons I learned from Bhaval is sometimes less is more. So you don't al so think about a bar chart or maybe keeping it within the same color, but using saturation. To show a greater reach. So darker colors means more lighter or more faded means less rather than trying to paint with all the colors in your palette because things can very quickly get out of control and then you lose that. The concept of a design palette and complimentary colors that Bhaval alluded to earlier on. I've been really impressed by our designers, or sometimes I will look at something in My immediate reaction might be, this feels a little tame, but actually what they're doing is reducing any distractions or the. That the use of garish or too many colors in the same palette could be and you very quickly then get to see that it's just making it easier for your brain to consume it and it's a more kind of comfortable experience. Color in itself, color with the meaning. Things like, red was a strong color, maybe something, past Ellie implies something more lighter. But then the use of colors or not as well, I would say people should think about if it is helping with the message. So again, we're kind, keep coming back to, or connecting the dots here on things. It's all about clarity of message. And when you

Alex Howson:

talk about saturation, I'm immediately. Drawn to the idea of nuance so that when you're just in the same kind of color palette, there's, I don't know that's the association that I'm immediately making without actually looking at an image. Just thinking about the kind of concept of saturation you mentioned a lot of continuing education providers are beginning to think, and of course this has been happening for a while, but really directing their effort. Increasingly to patient education as part of tethered programs or, there, there are different approaches to this. What kinda other trends are you seeing in the use of visual information? I guess both in continuing education, but also in the other areas that you're increasingly working in.

Karen Roy:

Yeah, so I think thinking about all the players in the CME world for a start when we've talked about learner needs and we've also, referenced faculty as well earlier in the conversation. And I think it's important that the folks, the subject matter experts that we're working with, feel energized about the projects they're working on and definitely doing something more visual. Is newer for them. And again, we get a lot of feedback that they were excited to present their content in a more engaging way. The other group that I wanna make sure we call out are commercial supporters. As well. So these are the folks who are advocating for budget for investment in education. And this is a group that are also identifying the need for them to communicate internally in a more impactful way. And visuals and infographics can help them as well. If you can imagine, outlining a strategic plan in. In a more compelling way thinking of graphics, everybody can immediately see the pyramid when you mention Moore's model. So you know that's a very nice model, the way that's been contextualized visually. But how do you then Communicate your educational strategy in a way that high level executives within a pharmaceutical company are going to pay attention to. So using visuals, give it that kind of polish that Csuite level executive is expecting these days. And then just for day to day communication, things like visual dashboards to show the breadth and the scope and the impact of the education that you're supporting can be a great tool for supporters as well. So I just wanted to mention that group is also looking at at the business end on how to use visuals and. To communicate internally. And providers throw down challenges all the time Bhaval?

Bhaval Sah:

Yeah, providers are constantly asking us for innovation and innovative ideas to put into their grant proposals to win these proposals. We have. Looking at really cool and interesting ways to provide CME activities. Gamification is one of them. The other thing to do is to think about, they're also looking at ways to extend the CME activity. So providing tools outside of the activity. Once the activity's taken place, for example, the use of treatment or diagnosis decision aids, those could be a tool that will have created an interactive tool within. educational piece, but then is pulled out and can be used separate as a tool that the physician can use within the practice with a patient. So that's something new that we're starting to see more of. Patient education. As Karen mentioned earlier, of course, the use of visuals in patient education. We're seeing more and more of that being asked of us from providers. And then of course, their outcomes. Now if you go down the halls of the Alliance poster room, on poster day, it's a lot of infographic posters, and we'd like to think that we were at the start of that wave.

Alex Howson:

A hundred percent. Should writers be worried?

Karen Roy:

No. Cause as we said, it's that visual thinking. Writers are organizers of content. As, as much as the science designers that Bhaval alluded to and we can't have. World devoid of text completely. You also asked about other spaces outside of cme. So a lot of your writer colleagues, would be familiar with what's happening in the publications world. And this need to publish faster and provide more tools around, the traditional manuscript. So now there's visual. There's patient lay summ. There's which lend themselves to being very visual. There are journals looking for like videos and then posters at medical conferences provide a great opportunity. Bhaval alluded to the outcomes data being shared at the Alliance, but think of a medical meeting and all the posters presented there, and how easy it is just to walk past. Them, they're not always the most compelling. And more and more now digital extenders ex taking the poster out of the medical meeting and providing that as a tool for other purposes as, as well. All very visual, all very graphic in nature. And something we're seeing a lot more people talking about in those kinds of forums.

Alex Howson:

It behooves us all to begin to develop. I think that kind of skill set in visual thinking for continuing education providers in particular who haven't yet used visual communication or infographics in particular, but might be tying with the idea, how do they get started? What would you suggest?

Bhaval Sah:

Yeah alluded to it a little bit before, but having the right skill sets in the team is key. And so you might wanna, start. Trying a few people out on these things taking Karen's five bullet challenge and seeing who can do that. Yeah, for example, we were using graphic designers solely for our work initially, and then realized along the way that while that was fine, we really needed those visual thinkers who understood the. Understood it visually and then applied the visuals to that information. So we started working with these science designers since then, and then we also now use the graphic designers of course, but with a lot of training and experience. So there's, finding the right skill sets in your team. Then also looking at getting training. Karen mentioned Andy Kirk. There's some courses out there, even Dave McCandless has courses out there. Also, lots of other ones as well. And lots of books on principles of visual data visualizations as well. So there's a lot of training out there available. So do get stuck in to look at that. And then look at inspiration. So we mentioned New York Times. I'm always on there. I have a subscription. I love all of their interactive pieces that they do, and I'm always thinking, how could we apply these ideas into the healthcare space? It's inspiration. It's out there for anyone to pick up and use. Why not in the healthcare space? We don't have those people pushing the edge. Why not get ideas from outside of it? We also have a set of resources, so we'll share those with you. Hopefully they can get

Karen Roy:

you started. That's wonderful. And it, Go ahead. Sorry. I was just going to say if we have time, Alex a couple of things that just popped into my head earlier when we were talking about is this a newer thing or sort of the pushback that we could that we get? An example that I love sharing with people is that if you read into Florence Nightingale, so everyone knows Florence Nightingale as the mother of nursing and introducing Anti septic practices into nursing. She's actually credited with one of the key infographics in healthcare. She charted out visually the causes of death by month from the front lines during the war. To send this information back to London to request. I did not know that. Yeah, it's great. I'll send you a link to that story in the show notes. And even in the time of the plague in London, a Dr. John Snow mapped out the cases where they were seeing them and by looking at clusters, was able to identify the source was a water. That people at the time in London were there was open sewers and this is for chole. And he was able to identify the source just by visually mapping it out. Yeah. So when people think this is a new fangled thing, or it's trend or it won't last, like it's been around for, it's been a way we've been communi communicating for a long time, but just not leveraging it to best.

Alex Howson:

Yes. It's certainly the case. There are a lot of people who would argue that we are visual thinkers, even though it's been something that has been Undermined or not really prioritized for some of us in the school system. is there anything else? Is there anything else that we should be thinking about? Just to of wrap up in order to use visual communication and infographics effectively in education and in other sort of informational spheres.

Karen Roy:

I would encourage people to just give it a try as you say, start with some of those smaller challenges that we talked about before, but then maybe go a step further and share it with your colleagues and ask them for feedback. Did this come across more clearly to you? Did this come across more quickly to you? Because couple of things, traps that people can fall into and we see it all the time when we look at other people's work. is, trying to be too clever if you're trying to work too hard at it. As Bible said, if you have to work too hard to decode. On the receiving end, then it's not a good graphic. So really looking at all the details, relativity of shapes and colors and positioning. On a slide or on a poster or whatever your real estate is you're dealing with. Really thinking it through. Clearly it's not just as simple as clicking on a, a button to create a data visualization and think your job's done. There's a lot more that goes to it to make it to do it right. But I would say, don't be afraid. Give it a go.

Bhaval Sah:

Don't be safe. Yeah, I would echo that. I would echo that. Don't be afraid. Use inspiration from other sources, even if it is to see the design angle as well. There that can help you. If you, your question about color, for example, not knowing where to start with a color palette, that makes sense. If you've seen something that you. You can try those colors out. Why not it? They've done the thinking for you a little bit, but you're applying it to some other ideas. So inspiration is all around you and it just makes sense to use it where you

Karen Roy:

can. Do you find

Alex Howson:

that there are particular palettes or shapes or icons that have resonance for health profess.

Bhaval Sah:

I do think that scientific looking ones, so the very linear and serious ones do seem to resonate with HCPs. And then the same, the opposite, I should say, is true for patients. I've read into this a little bit more in fuzzy. Imagery kind of resonates with patients. They adhere to it, like that fuzzy animals that your children might like. So the warm and cuddly for patients, the sort of more scientific look for HCPs is not a bad way to go.

Alex Howson:

that. Karen Roy, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on Write Medicine. I think that listeners are gonna get a lot of really deep and information from this episode.

Karen and Bothel walked us through the rationale for taking a visual approach towards communicating clinical information. As Bhaval explains efficiency is the main advantage content designed in a visual way. It takes less time to consume. And so reduces the cognitive load on the reader. Additional benefits of visual communication and include improved engagement levels through opportunities to interact with data. Measurable feedback by tracking activity to inform ongoing education needs. And delivering clear patient oriented education for the tech savvy person on the street. Karen observes. Visual communications have been around a long time. For example, Florence Nightingale. One of my heroes was credited with one of the key infographics in healthcare. So visual communications. Are not a passing trend. But we're now leveraging them. To our advantage and healthcare.

Introducing Bhaval and Karen
Why we're drawn to visual information
The skills needed to create effective visual communication
Creativity and science
Learning efficiency through infographics
Elements of the design process
Creating a visual mindset
Resources for learning visual thinking
Working with color
Innovating in CME
The history of visual mapping
Take aways