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Developing and Executing an Integrated Medical Communications Strategy and Plan
In this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society’s Elevate Podcast series, we speak with presenters of the MAPS 2022 Global Annual Meeting session, “Developing and Executing an Integrated Medical Communications Strategy and Plan.” Topics covered include the planning basics, the evolution of the MedComms planning process, and new considerations for planning. Download the related white paper below. And we hope you will join this session Wednesday, March 23 at 11:30 at the MAPS Global Annual Meeting in New Orleans!
Garth Sundem 00:00
Welcome to this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series: “Elevate”. I’m your host, Garth Sundem, Communications Director at MAPS. And today we’re speaking with presenters of the MAPS 2022 Global Annual Meeting Session, Developing and Executing an Integrated Medical Communications Strategy and Plan. We have Paul O’Grady, Global Oncology, Scientific Communications and Strategy head with GSK, Renu Juneja, Head, Scientific Evidence and Communications Oncology, US Medical Affairs with Janssen, Sissy Easo-Joseph, Director of Scientific Communications, Migraine and Headache with Teva Pharmaceuticals. And Mike Griffin, VP of Client Services at Oxford PharmaGenesis. So first, thank you all for joining us today. We’ve got a lot of people on the podcast, and I’m hoping to hear from everyone. But let’s start Sissy, would you get us started with the background of what we mean by integrated medical communication strategy and plan?
Sissy Easo-Joseph 01:12
Sure, thank you, Garth, really appreciate it. So, you know, an integrated communication strategy is really your roadmap into why where to go, what to do and how. And really, I like to see the strategy as what we call the connective tissue that really ensures that medical consistency across all channels is seen a Medical Affairs functions and really how that aligns communications with our medical objectives. And, you know, being in Medical Affairs is really important for that alignment to be seen. And that’s really where our strategy and plan comes together. Our group really wants that and we desire for that to happen. And that really comes from having a strategy and plan together. And really, that strategy takes Medical Affairs from what we sometimes see as a disparate functions into one interconnected approach. And, and really, the broad purpose of that is to articulate a consistent and cohesive, we’ll see that a lot. And I’m sure you saw that in our white paper, we kind of honed in on that, we probably see that a multiple times just say that. But we really, really value that cohesive scientific narrative for the product across our multiple dissemination channels and formats, which is what we see in our plan. And we really strive for that. Because if we don’t have a cohesive narrative that comes from that strategy, then when we are pushing that through our channels in our plan, it really falls apart. And it has to come from that alignment that we try. And we really strive for, for our medical and medical communications teams, to bring everyone together to really have that cohesive narrative. And that approach really involves, I mean, once we have that plan together, it’s very iterative. And it’s very fluid, because there’s insights that are continuously, we say insights on insights to really bring that plan together over time. And it’s very cross functional teams are working together. And we’re translating that into impactful communication. So that plan is as a result of us working together as cross functional teams on those activities and deliverables that really, again, bring through that narrative across those different deliverables. And the strategy really considers not only the deliverables, but really who that target audiences is and how we’re to tailor those various communications, how to engage with our stakeholders and their needs, and how that content is consumed in those preferences.
Garth Sundem 03:47
Okay, well, let me…No worries, let me point out to you that we’ll link the white paper to this podcast, and we will also link your session to this podcast, I can’t recommend the white paper highly enough. I thought it was extremely well done. So, when you’re done listening here, everyone go down to the paper and give that a read as well. And I wanted to follow up, maybe I’ll open this up to the feeding frenzy of a four-person podcast. So, where does this start? One thing you said right at the beginning, is that the plan includes your why, why you’re doing this communicating. So, to our panel here, is that the starting point of this plan, or do you start somewhere else?
Sissy Easo-Joseph 04:29
I’m gonna have to punt it to Renu or Paul.
Paul O’Grady 04:33
To have to have a good integrated medical strategy and plan, obviously, obviously, we’re not independent of the rest of the wide world in the organization. Right. So, there’s a strategy coming from the medical plan, but we are this is what how we are communicating what is going on about our asset, what do people need to know, needs to be tailored to your audience needs to be considerations of personalization or localization in your countries. So, to get to that point, we need to be taking the viewpoint of our larger cross functional stakeholders, but then also sitting and thinking about what do people need to know for your asset? So, to me the why is actually the most important question, but you need to take it in with response to the inputs around us.
Garth Sundem 05:18
Right? What do people need to know about our asset? So, have these plans always been in the same shape? You know, is this something that Medical Affairs knows how to do already? Or has this plan evolved in recent years and in renewable go to you on this one?
Renu Juneja 05:34
Yeah, no, thank you. I think Sissy and Paul have set it up beautifully for me to just build on it. I would say that, at least in three big ways, medical communication has evolved integrated medical communication strategy or plan. First thing is, Paul knows this, he knows and Mike has seen this that we all used to be focused on just publications, that was our big focus, right, we would get the publication done, then the downstream channels from publications like medical information, medical education, MSL materials, MSL training, they would all take that publication and do their thing, you know, whatever, that thing, their, their strategy, or their plan is right. But now, we all have broader roots than just publications, right? We all have become medical communication, you know, leaders. So that we Yes, publication is still the first step in data communication. You know, we publish it, presented at a congress or published in a peer reviewed journal, we may not be executing the plans for downstream channels, but as medical communication leaders, we have this holistic view of once the data is published, what is medical information to make with this? What is medical education doing? What are MSL materials incorporating in there? How are they being trained on it? Right. So that is what Sissy was mentioned, integrated medical communication, strategy and plan. So, we are not just publications now, it is publications and the downstream channels, holistic view. So that is one way it has evolved, you know, more and more holistic, more integrated. The second thing I would say is that, again, most of us were focused on publications, and most of us were focused on tactics. Okay, data coming out which Congress would not present at, which journal we’re going to publish it in. But now, I think both Paul and Sissy touched on this. Now we are focused on how are we strategic partners with Medical Affairs leadership to come up with Medical Affairs strategy, which of course informs medical communication strategy, and what we are looking in medical communication supports Medical Affairs strategy, right? So, it’s a two way to a sort of, say street or two-way going in. So, we have actually become more strategic partners, rather than just data coming out, where to present and we are to publish. And the third thing I would say is which is more recent, and actually accelerated during pandemic time, big way. And that is that you know, medical information. Yes, publication happened in a peer review journal. And then there is you know, medical information that usually as their letters, Word documents, right, standard response letter, medical education, mostly didactic presentations, right, an MSL are usually PowerPoint slides. But now, it is like, but when you’re publishing in a journal, you may have a video attached to it, you may have a podcast attached to it. Similarly, MSLs may be going out with a facilitated storytelling or data visualization or an infographic. Similarly medical information has their website, they are texting, they have you know, video chats, and all that stuff. So, rather than siloed channels and siloed formats, we are integrating all those, you know, formats as well, to make it more like omni channel. And that is depending on how the knowledge of that, who are our target audience, and how do they engage with that, you know, data communication. So big three changes, you know, from publication to medical community, integrated medical communication, from tactics to strategic, and then from siloed formats to more integrated omni channel.
Garth Sundem 09:56
You could see all three of those under the umbrella of integrating You know, you’re integrating your publications team with these downstream channels with med info with med education with the MSL, you’re also integrating kind of in the other direction up towards strategic leadership. And then we’re talking about integrating all of these different formats of communication with how we, you know, disseminate or communicate information. There’s about 15 silos there that I think just exploded in this one conversation. Mike, just a follow up real quick, though. How do you see these structures? Is it that publications teams have sort of evolved to be the strategic leaders of medical communications and the organization sort of shepherding the activities of med info and med education? Or? Or is there a new sort of communications team that sits up at a strategic level overseeing these activitie?
Mike Griffin 11:02
And thanks, guys, I might turn it over to one of the three experts on the line. I don’t know, Paul, or Sissy if you have any particular thoughts on that.
Sissy Easo-Joseph 11:10
So, you know, within Teva, our organization, you know, we sit on a core team that then what we do is we align with our other cross functional teams to I would say, we do shepherd that it’s as Renu said, we’re able to see sort of it’s an umbrella approach, we’re able to see what all is happening across our cross functional team. So, we can help guide that process along and bring everybody together, you still need. Again, we may not all agree, but we do need to align because we are helping to set that strategy. So, being part of that, along with the medical team, when you were able to set that strategy, we can come up with an integrated medical communications plan, which is the goal. So when you have that goal, and we’re kind of putting that roadmap or plan together, and when we’re all sitting together, and we’re all aligned on that, the execution of that becomes more, it’s more conducive, again, for the brand for the product, which is what we’re trying to do, again, that narrative gets pulled through across those cross functional teams, again, for that plan to be executed, which is what our goal is, hopefully, for everyone.
Garth Sundem 12:14
Okay. And like like Renu said, it used to be fairly streamlined in that publication would occur, and you would look where to present it or publish it. And then all these activities would flow from there. But, Paul, are there new things that we need to be taking into account when developing the strategy, new considerations that would go into this strategy?
Paul O’Grady 12:37
Well, we’ve kind of touched on this already, but I don’t I don’t think we can reinforce enough, right? If we have a good integrated medical communication plan, we’re pulling together everything. And the old adage was about the right data at the right time for the right audience. And we definitely thought about that with strategic publication planning. And you still need a fantastic publication plan as the building block is foundational. But where we are now, you cannot stress enough to talk about channels. If you go back four or five years ago, medical didn’t even talk about channels, even though other industries did. And now we’re all trying to speak this language. Because remember, we’re all human, right? We’ve all had phones for the last 20 years. Now we all consume information differently. The same is true about our HCPs, you know, we like it or not, we can create all these publications, but people don’t have time to read. So, what we have to do is meet people where they are and give them information in a way that they can understand it. And that is about coming together MSL, MedInfo and medical education, all the different types of content that can be generated. And the other key parties that yes, there’s you’ll hear in the industry, and I’m sure other stuff at MAPS will be lots of talks about what different channels and how to maximize them. But for an integrative medical communication strategy to work, you need to have your medical strategy and strategy feed the channels.
Garth Sundem 13:57
Oh, that’s interesting. So, again, it’s almost like we’re back to the why and the why would be the strategy. And then the strategy is feeding channels, but it’s channels that are enabling communications in new ways. And so, they would have to be considered when making this plan. But it’s still the why that the drives, it’s still the strategy that drives it. Well, I if we had two hours, we would do your session right now. But the fact is, we have your session coming up at the MAPS Global Annual Meeting in New Orleans here from March 20 to the 23rd. And so, I wanted to hear a little preview of what this session is going to be like, Mike, what are you guys?
Mike Griffin 14:42
Sure.Thanks, Garth. Yeah, so I think after you know, the initial presentations from our experts, Renu Sissy, and Paul, we’re actually gonna flip the workshop upside down a little bit, and we’re gonna have the interactive game show, which I thought would be an interesting way to get the audience involved with the mix. So, what we’re gonna do is very, very similar to Family Feud. We’re going to divide up The workshop room into two teams and ask various questions that they’ve heard earlier in the presentations from our experts and then obviously open it up for kind of a group discussion. So, a little bit of a competitive edge to it with some fun and interactivity. And we’ll hope everybody finds it to be a worthwhile session.
Garth Sundem 15:15
Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun. I’m gonna have to make sure I come to this. Is there a prize? Do we get chocolate?
Mike Griffin 15:20
Everybody’s a winner Garth is all I can say. So, beat the game show host maybe I’ll have a surprise for the winning team. But uh, no promises at this point.
Garth Sundem 15:29
God she’s, well, if there’s chocolate, I’m there. Alright, so thank you Renew, Sissy, Paul and Mike for joining us today. To learn more about the development and implementation of an integrated medical communication strategy and plan, please join us in New Orleans this March for the MAPS 2022 Global Annual Meeting. Also visit The MAPS Content Hub where you can find many of the resources mentioned today and in the presentation. MAPS Members please don’t forget to subscribe. And we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society Podcast series: “Elevate”.
602 Park Point Drive, Suite 225, Golden, CO 80401 – +1 303.495.2073
© 2023 Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS). All Rights Reserved Worldwide.