Developing case-based content to engage HCPs

Views & Analysis
healthcare professional

In this instalment of EPG Health’s HCP engagement series, Georga Cottle discusses how case-based learning connects medical theory to medical practice.

Medical education doesn’t stand still. The acute demands on today’s healthcare systems require ever-more effective learning opportunities for healthcare professionals (HCPs) and offer pharma companies valuable chances to support evidence-based clinical practice.

One of the paramount ways of doing this is via case-based learning. It’s been gaining ground in recent years as an effective method of teaching in healthcare as a way of countering traditional challenges, such as sustaining interest and promoting deep learning.

The increasing complexity of healthcare is far from being a pandemic condition – two decades of rapid medical advances across swathes of specialities and areas of general practice have fundamental altered the world of the HCP.

What is case-based learning?

At its core, case-based learning uses real-life or fictional ‘trigger’ cases or situations to help connect medical theory to medical practice, by promoting situational awareness through authentic learning.

In this way it brings situations to life, building empathy and demonstrating clinical decision-making, but it’s also adaptable and highly compatible with digital channels, making it an ideal option for pharma’s increasingly digital interactions with HCPs.

As well as supporting the development of new types of expertise, case-based learning can also consolidate existing knowledge by aligning with supporting materials, such as the latest research articles or diagnostic techniques, to offer much potential when it comes to enlivening education.

It’s an approach that both complements other forms of medical education and is already widely used, with 95% of HCPs reporting that they seek patient case-based learning at least once per month. The crucial role that websites fulfil was underlined by our 2019 report The Evolving Role of Websites for HCPs, which found that 72% of HCPs visit independent medical websites weekly.

The value of case-based learning

There is clear evidence to suggest that those who take part in case-based learning believe it enhances both their learning and patient outcomes. Furthermore, according to EPG Health’s study, 50% of HCPs said that patient cases were a high priority for better access to information.

Further applications may be seen in pharma-supported events. That same EPG Health study found that 88% of respondents said that live discussions of case studies added value to scientific meetings – it’s an important point for the future, as the post-COVID shape of pharma’s involvement in medical meetings begins to take shape.

But for case-based learning to be successful, the information that is provided must be perceived as credible and trusted. If that can be achieved, the benefits of this approach to medical education can be manifold.

Good case-based education supports the development of empathy and appreciation of the burden, enhancing HCPs’ clinical knowledge and skills, and supports the individualising of care.

In addition to helping HCPs with the integration of knowledge and practical guidance, case-based learning can also assist with the development of ‘softer’ learning skills, such as those focused on self-evaluation, critical reflection, professionalism (such as teamwork and ethical considerations), and communication with staff and patients.

  • Read how using faculty-led, patient-case focussed media received more than 10,000 e-learning visits in one month

Ways for pharma to support case-based content

There are a number of effective options for pharma companies wanting to support case-based learning, including symposia presentations, roundtable discussions, video-based eLearning, podcasts and more.

When deciding which of these might be of most use it’s important to understand that different teaching modalities can have different influences on learners’ clinical decision-making processes.

Moreover, at a time when change in the air, we would also suggest that companies investigate all the digital advances on offer so that they can be sure that whichever option they choose, those initiatives will algin correctly with HCPs’ evolving channel and format preferences.

More from EPG Health’s HCP engagement series

About the author

GeorgaGeorga Cottle is an associate account director at EPG Health, overseeing the design, execution and evolution of bespoke educational programmes on the global HCP portal, Medthority ( She manages the strategic and tactical delivery of bespoke programmes for key global pharma clients.

About EPG Health

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EPG Health is the publisher of Medthority (, an independent patient management and treatment decision support tool for healthcare professionals.

Easing the discovery and consumption of valuable medical education, EPG Health supports a personalised experience and better outcomes for all stakeholders. A bespoke and integrated toolset helps pharmaceutical companies to reach and engage target audiences with key educational messages while measuring the outcomes.

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