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User-Friendly Medical Device Training and Documentation: Q&A with OCD

In the past 15 years, Novatek’s technical writing team has worked side by side with Peggy Ley, former technical writer,customer service support specialist and trainer for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCD). Novatek provides outsourced technical writing services and training to help launch OCD products, including a new blood analyzer system, as well as documentation support for existing products. In this three-part blog series, Peggy shares best practices and lessons learned from her experiences at OCD.

training_cropProper training and well written documentation go hand in hand in the healthcare field. The success of a new medical device is a reflection of the materials and support customers received during training. Although every individual learns differently, there are some best practices that training managers can follow to help ensure the success of medical device training and documentation.

As a former lab technician, customer service support specialist, trainer and technical writer for OCD, Peggy is able to offer perspective from each side of the business. She understands the value of documentation produced by technical writers and how it can best support the customer service team, and ultimately, close customers.

Training and Documentation Q&A

Peggy Ley tells us:

1. What was it like to work with OCD and Novatek?

I worked in a mixed team of OCD employees and Novatek’s technical writers….the Novatek writers who worked with us were especially qualified and well-trained. They were able to jump right in, often with minimal training.

2. What did OCD excel at in respect to training and documentation?

OCD was exceptional at training our people, especially in customer service. We always had a mentor. It can take six months to really feel comfortable with the full breadth of customer questions, so having someone we could go to for help was reassuring.

3. What tools and techniques were most useful to you in the different roles you held?

As an OCD technical writer, we worked directly from the FDA standards and audit formats. They made our work so much easier. I was used to working with the FDA as part of my everyday life. Writers new to medical devices needed to understand the importance of FDA regulations and how they fit into our writing. Most people know what the FDA does, but it is also important to know what they look for in documentation – even writing is regulated. We had to write against those regulations.

As an OCD trainer, we started with the actual customer training materials to train the customer service team. Focusing on how the customer will use the medical device eliminated a lot of complexity and brought clarity to our sales and service training and documentation.

4. For a complex medical device launch, how do you best provide the information your customer or colleague needs, when they need it?

It is best to train to the person's background. For internal training, we first determined whether they had a medical or technical background, and trained them accordingly. You don’t have to know how the product was made, but you do have to know how the customer will use it. Product knowledge can be acquired as you work with the product. Writers that come from consulting companies already have required writing skills. We build upon those skills with specific product knowledge training.

When providing documentation and training for a customer, it's important to be clear – what you are writing matters. Keep things simple and easy to understand. I was a customer initially, so I brought that perspective. Make the customer feel confident and comfortable. They should be able to walk up to the instrument and find what they need.

As a customer, we could not afford downtime in the lab because time was so critical to patient care. It was helpful to have the technical documentation right on the system, making information easy to find.

My advice? Make training a good experience. The launch of a complex medical device can be intimidating. Provide technical writers with the proper training and tools, and trust that they will do their part. Make people feel comfortable enough to come back and ask questions.

Learn more about medical device training and documentation from our other two blogs in our series with Peggy Ley.

For more information about what is needed in a documentation plan, download our guide.

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See our other posts in this series: 

Tips for Creating Technical Documentation for Regulated Industries

Tips for Managing Technical Writing Teams

Topics: training solutions, medical device launch, documentation, product documentation

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