3 Challenges Developing Medical Information and What You Can Do About Them

Medical information (MI) groups fulfill a vital function in creating and disseminating trusted clinical and scientific information to healthcare professionals and patients. Through these activities MI professionals see the opportunity to interact with their customers, share insights and gain valuable feedback on products in market.

The practice of developing and delivering MI needs to be accurate, efficient and timely. It also needs to be able to address the varying needs of global markets in terms of regulatory differences and localization including translation, for the specific market.

Over the past few years the Author-it team has had the opportunity to meet with MI groups at many of the leading Pharma. What is surprising is how consistent the problems are that we see in MI and unsurprisingly, how motivated these groups are to address the issues they face. The following describes the top three challenges we have seen and what you can do about them.

Challenge 1 – Slow and Inefficient Authoring Processes

Delivering MI is a complex and exacting process. It involves bringing together information from a huge range of sources including clinical reports, dossiers, labels, safety docs and many more. Simply finding the right information is challenging enough but then it has to be encapsulated into MI such as standard response documents that then must be made available via multiple channels such as Call Centers, MI portals or Field Medical teams. To add to the complexity, new customer queries require custom responses to be developed, reviewed, approved and delivered in a timely fashion.

Key to the MI authoring process is the ability to quickly and easily find and reuse trusted information. Unfortunately this is not an easy task. Information is stored in a myriad of point solutions throughout the organization. If the required information is found, verifying its accuracy becomes the next challenge. Often multiple inconsistent versions of the same information are discovered and these must be checked and verified. Once verified, your only option to reuse the information is copy and paste creating multiple versions of the same content. If the information is not found, then you have to rewrite it, perpetuating the cycle.

Bottom line, the speed and accuracy of MI is compromised by the systems and processes that MI professionals must use.

Challenge 2 – Think Global, Act Local

Delivering MI to global markets requires country specific versions and localization. Almost universally, MI functions have poor bi-directional visibility between regions of how MI is re-purposed for each market. This makes it near impossible to verify consistency of MI between global and regional groups. Localization is a slow and expensive process that can add considerable time onto MI release or update schedules.

Bottom line, delivering consistent MI globally is tough and systems need to be able to support visibility and localization for audit and traceability.

Challenge 3 – Multi-channel Delivery

Today’s market is connected, tech savvy and expects a high standard of service. This requires MI to be delivered via multiple channels and in a highly consumable fashion. The same information needs to be delivered via a call center verbal response, and in print (PDF), web and mobile formats. The content needs to be searchable and offered in summary and extended versions. Multi-channel delivery is generally achieved via multiple solutions, one for each output type e.g. PDF, web and mobile. The only option for reuse or single sourcing is again to copy and paste between systems, a time consuming activity and another potential source of inconsistency.

Bottom line, customers need MI to be delivered when they want it, the way they want it. Systems need to be able to support this from a single source.

So What Can You Do About These Challenges?

Almost all of these issues stem directly from the way MI is authored, managed and published. Document – based systems, such as Word, lock content in its format and prevent effective reuse. Copy and paste is the downfall of consistency!

Thankfully there is an answer – Component Authoring.

Component authoring systems allow you to break your content up into reusable chunks of information. The concept is write once, reuse many times, localize to any language and publish to any format. To find out more about the benefits of components, check out this video – Components: Solving the Content Problem.

Components support MI professionals in efficiently developing content. By allowing them to easily find and reuse the correct, pre-approved information, productivity improvements in excess of 50% are possible. Reuse also allows for huge cost savings in localization particularly when producing updates. Finally, component authoring systems support multi-channel publishing where from a single source, MI can be published to any format including mobile.

By driving efficiency and speed in the MI development and delivery processes, the vision of effectively serving the needs of global healthcare professionals and patients can take a big step towards becoming a reality.

How do you see these challenges? How are you looking to solve them?
Agree, disagree? Post your comments below.