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How Custom Training Bridges the Communications Gap Between Patients and Care Providers

Helping physicians better understand and engage patients diagnosed with HIV.

We focused our efforts on increasing the availability of training on critical soft skills related to communication, patient engagement, and quality care.‬‬‬


For more than 130 years, Merck Pharmaceutical has been at the forefront of the development of important medicines and vaccines. Merck aspires to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world, focusing on research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals.


Merck asked ELB Learning to create engaging training that would help physicians better understand and engage patients diagnosed with HIV.

ELB Learning conducted in-depth research and engaged more than 100 thought leaders and service providers to envision an optimal system in which everyone at-risk was tested, everyone infected promptly entered care – and then stayed there. To achieve this vision, we identified linkage to care as a high-priority gap where Merck & Co. could make a difference.

Recognizing the critical roles of hospital and community-based health care workers in linking and retaining patients in care, we focused our efforts on increasing availability of training on critical, yet soft skills, related to communication, patient engagement and quality care.‬‬‬

The modules in Bridge to Care focus on communication, patient engagement, and quality care for those diagnosed with HIV.

Strategy & Solution

To deliver cost-effective, high-quality training where it was most needed, we created a scalable eLearning platform that combined video-based patient-provider simulations with health-games to create an immersive, engaging experience.  We built Bridge to Care in consultation with HIV experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Quality Center at the New York State AIDS Institute (NQC), identifying five training modules that follow the patient journey from testing through diagnosis and care initiation.‬‬‬

This project was undertaken to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and was launched by Merck & Co. at the XIX International Conference on AIDS. Along with Merck & Co., we engaged in discussions about dissemination with the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House, the CDC, the NQC, the National Minority AIDS Council and other stakeholders.‬‬‬ Bridge to Care was entertained for President Obama’s private healthcare initiative for HIV.  


Based on initial pilot data from 25 HIV service organizations and hospitals in New York City, 93% of users reported that they felt prepared to implement the skills learned in Bridge to Care. In particular, users reported near universal approval of the training content, offering very high marks for site navigation, video content and training games.

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