As a result of the government's restrictive measures with regard to coronavirus, training coordinator Maarten van der Tol faces a major challenge. How does he ensure that all courses can continue unhindered? "We're now offering our training online, because even — in fact, especially — in these difficult times for healthcare, it is very important that health professionals make optimal use of all the options of HiX," says Maarten.

How many of the courses from our range are now offered electronically?

All courses that were already scheduled are now offered online, and we are also continuing to add new courses to the training calendar. If hospitals choose to cancel participation because of other priorities, we entirely understand. On the other hand, I can easily imagine that in times like these there would be a need to improve administrator skills for HiX within the organisation. So we are still offering the opportunity to undertake our training, but now online.

What was the first course you offered electronically?

For the HiX implementation at Geel Hospital in Belgium, a few project training courses still needed to be undertaken. The restriction measures meant this was no longer possible for the final courses in the implementation process. For the Preop and Radiology courses, we quickly switched to an online solution and everyone was happy with how that went. Only the training for the Emergency Department, understandably, could not be completed. We'll catch up on that training later.

How are the courses offered?

The courses are offered via Skype, which is easy to use. A webcam has a lot of added value because it provides more direct contact with the trainer and the other participants. Of course, it's a different setting from sitting together in a classroom with a group of students, but the first experiences have been positive. We've adapted the structure of our courses to suit this alternative teaching method.

Our instructors can provide training from home or from our office in Amsterdam. Four meeting rooms have been set up there as a temporary "remote training room" with two screens: on one screen the trainer shares his presentation, while on the other he maintains contact with all participants. For a live demo, he logs into the HiX training environment where he can hand over control to a participant from time to time for carrying out certain assignments. This allows the interactive nature of a course to be retained. The trainer then gives tips and background information that all participants can benefit from. We can also conduct an online course in the hospital's own HiX training environment. The participants then log in to that environment and carry out assignments independently, which are jointly evaluated afterwards.

Conducting online training is different, of course, from standing in front of a group of participants in a training room. For this reason, we have added instructions and tips to our "teacher protocol" to make the course successful. We also ensure — with practice sessions and opportunities for questions and discussion — that participating in an online course is still an interactive experience for the participants.

How did the first participants like the online training?

It took a bit of improvisation and many routines had to be adjusted, but we made the switch quickly and successfully. People appreciated the fact that the courses (which in some cases had been arranged long ago with the client) could continue as normal. For example, we had this response from a hospital: "Thanks for providing the training. It's fantastic that you were able to set it up remotely in such a short time. " We always ask participants to complete an evaluation afterwards and we will continue to do so for the online courses as well. The feedback is invaluable to us in improving our range of courses both online and offline.

What did the instructors think of the online training?

Our trainers experienced some trepidation here and there, but for the most part I heard afterwards that it was going much better than expected. A technical hitch here and there can always occur, but that is taken into account and we usually find a solution. As soon as possible, we'll resume training at our locations in Amsterdam and Antwerp, but this way we can ensure continuity without compromising the learning objectives of the courses.

Are there now any other courses offered that are more applicable to the coronavirus situation? Is there an increased need for courses about Videoconsult, for example?

So far there have been no requests for special courses to do with coronavirus. Developments are moving so fast that other channels are more suitable for keeping our clients up to date on everything in HiX developed specifically in relation to coronavirus, such as "HiX updates", user groups and special manuals on our support site. Special e-learning modules are also being developed for end users, enabling them to link up quickly with the latest developments. If there is a need for any other specific online administrator training outside of our regular range of courses, hospitals are welcome to let us know.