Why are medical communications teams struggling to manage content?

In the pharmaceutical industry, medical communications professionals work with an enormous amount of content to help educate and respond to inquiries from patients, healthcare providers, administrators, and others. They rely on content to create educational and marketing material for internal and external use with clinical information about their company’s products, including reporting adverse events. What’s more, they are responsible for managing various medical information databases both for drugs in the market and those in development.

But, with all this content at their disposal, are medical communications teams in need of an easier way to manage content? Research from Accenture’s The State of Content Survey for Life Sciences suggests yes.

The study shows 78% of respondents in pharma and biotech and 95% in med tech reporting moderate to enormous amounts of digital content and assets being produced by their organizations – with no indication of that slowing down.

The concerning statistic is this: Only 13% of pharma and biotech marketers and 17% of med tech marketers think they leverage content – both internal and third-party published – well.

What makes content management so difficult?

One challenge to content management is the fact that siloed, localized content makes the authoring process overly time-consuming and difficult to do in a copyright compliant manner.  Many times, a document needs to be created with externally published literature, charts, graphs, mixed in with internal data and information.

And once content is created, the resulting formats are hard to search, have limited reuse potential, and require endless version management. In an era when people want access anytime, anywhere, content also falls short if it cannot be optimized for use on mobile devices or through VPN access.

Related Reading: Mobile’s Role in Information Management and R&D Content

The benefits of a centralized library for communications teams

Companies have acknowledged their need for a centralized place to store and review content. Gartner predicts that investment in IT in the life sciences sector will reach $54 billion by 2019. It’s within this arena that shared libraries and component authoring tools can help.

For corporations with thousands of employees spanning the globe, a centralized, secure editing tool is critical. A library that is easily accessible for content users could offer the means to store, organize and collaborate on published content within teams and across the organization. In addition, by centralizing published materials, life sciences companies can quickly locate the information they need to support patent and regulatory submissions or pharmacovigilance activities.

With centralized libraries, easier collaboration is ingrained into the workflow. With most medical communications departments dealing with vast volumes of content, contributors want to be confident they are editing the most up-to-date version of a document. But with contributors sharing different versions of the same document on their desktops, that becomes a challenge.

Taking shared libraries a step further with component authoring

A component-based approach to content takes the collaborative concept of centralized libraries a step further. It allows information to be organized into chunks which can be used and reused across the business. Component authoring enables sections of a document to be edited and changed automatically in all related documents. Where content updates used to take weeks – or even months – multiple changes can be completed quickly and efficiently.

Today’s medical communications departments are increasingly becoming author and publisher figures within the organization. Utilizing an efficient, copyright compliant process to create content for external distribution is the end goal – with an effective content management workflow, this will become an easier feat.

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