The 2020 European Meeting of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) was held in London on 21–22 January. A total of 350 delegates attended; the highest number to date for the European meeting.
This year, the meeting focused on ‘Precision Communication: Achieving Clarity, Reach and Value’. A summary of the second day of the meeting is provided below to benefit those who were unable to attend, and as a timely reminder of the key topics for those who did.
A summary of the first day of the meeting can be found here.
Day 2 of the meeting opened with three parallel sessions on Precision Communication, Plain Language Summaries, and the Scientific Communication Platform.
#MSLcommunicateWider: Precision communication: building on publications for wider communication strategies
This session, chaired by Margaret Haugh (MediCom Consult), focused on the evolving role of publication leads in effective collaboration with the full range of stakeholders to enable use of publications content in broader internal and external communications.
Clare Baker (Bayer) set the scene by highlighting the shortfall in current medical communications methods. Although manuscripts address the results of clinical studies, from the perspective of physicians there is often a lack of practical guidance on implementation. Echoing a common theme at the meeting, Baker highlighted the scope for presentation of data by more concise and visual means, adopting several different formats if possible, to maximise comprehension and reach.
Publication teams within pharmaceutical companies should actively collaborate with other functions within their companies, including:
- medical affairs
- patient advocacy
- health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) and market research.
Mina Patel of OPEN Health continued the conversation by outlining the steps that publication leads can take to ensure they are leading the communication strategy and working effectively with colleagues across all functions. Publication teams should be involved in the initial development of:
- scientific platforms
- publications-related materials
- data generation and lifecycle plans in conjunction with medical affairs
- local affiliate projects
- internal and external training materials.
Publication leads need to ensure communication channels between all functions are open, and put themselves at the forefront of these conversations. Cross-functional collaborative teams need an innovation mind-set and effective feedback loop to remain dynamic and ready to adapt to new or unexpected data/circumstances.
Cross-functional collaborative teams need an innovation mind-set and effective feedback loop to remain dynamic and ready to adapt to new or unexpected data/circumstances
Patel reflected on the timeliness of initiating cross-functional collaboration. It can take three years for an aspirational scientific statement to become a referenceable statement, so the earlier conversations occur to identify gaps, priorities, and courses of action, the better – ideally from early Phase II clinical development. Legal and compliance teams should be involved prior to project kick-off to find solutions or compromises to any potential barriers.
The end result of cross-functional collaboration is clear and consistent messaging across all platforms — from clinical manuscripts to marketing materials — addressing the needs of physicians using appropriate, innovative, and effective methods.
The end result of cross-functional collaboration is clear
and consistent messaging across all platforms
#PLSForAll: Plain language summaries of publications: definition, development and dissemination
The second parallel session focused on plain language summaries (PLS), which are increasingly valued as a means to communicate scientific findings to wider audiences, including patients. The panel comprised of individuals from across medical publishing:
- Medical communications perspective: Dawn Lobban (Envision Pharma Group; recently interviewed by the Publication Plan) and Jason Gardner (McCann Health Medical Communications)
- Pharmaceutical industry perspective: Linda Feighery (UCB Pharma)
- Publisher’s perspective: Jan Seal-Roberts (Adis)
- Patient perspective: Simon Stones (Collaboro Consulting; recently interviewed by the Publication Plan).
The panel agreed that one PLS should be suitable for all relevant audiences – empowering patients, the public, and time-poor specialists. PLS must accurately reflect the message of the main manuscript, helping to avoid the risk of data misinterpretation by non-specialists. As such, writing PLS requires skill to contextualise the science, without diluting it. There are readily available resources online, that can help to support PLS development. While approaches to PLS compliance vary between companies, a harmonised approach is warranted.
PLS should be suitable for all relevant audiences –
empowering patients, the public, and time-poor specialists
Some publishers, such as Adis now encourage PLS submission to all of their journals. The panel discussed how authors themselves could inspire journals to adopt PLS, potentially by means of a pre-submission enquiry explaining how PLS can boost an article’s impact. In terms of access, it is important that PLS are available outside paywalls.
Discoverability is key to dissemination. PLS for Adis journals are now included on PubMed. Creation of a dedicated, patient-friendly ‘PLS PubMed’ database might enhance uptake by patients.
#SCPsDig_it: Clear, consistent, correct: why the scientific communication platform matters
In the third of the parallel sessions, Judy Brownsword (Bioscript Group) chaired a hands-on, interactive exploration of best practice for developing robust scientific communication platforms (SCPs). Cornelia Bartels (Merck Healthcare) opened the session emphasising the importance of the SCP, which provides a strategic foundation for medical communications, ensures consistent language and referencing, and can highlight data gaps. Bartels stressed that the SCP should be a ‘live’ document, adapting as products progress through development and as the therapeutic landscape evolves.
Kathryn Gray (Envision Pharma Group) described the standard structure of an SCP, which typically comprises of scientific pillars, communication objectives, scientific statements, and a lexicon. Session attendees debated the practical considerations involved in each stage of developing an SCP. Key recommendations were:
- develop an interim lexicon for early-stage products
- include patient advocacy and local market representatives early in the review process
- update the SCP regularly.
Commonly faced challenges identified in the development of an SCP were:
- stakeholder alignment.
A comprehensive overview of key considerations for SCP development was shared, which will be a valuable resource for anyone involved in developing SCPs in the future.
Credit: Judy Brownsword, Cornelia Bartels, Kathryn Gray, and ISMPP
#InspireTheDataJourney: Enhancing value across the data journey
How do we add value to data? Moderator Rob Pilbrow (OPEN health), opened the session with a summary of how precision communication and innovations can add value across the data journey. As the amount of data becoming available continues to grow, the challenges faced in generating and disseminating meaningful and impactful data to different stakeholders need to be addressed.
Frederico Calado (Novartis Oncology) focused on the prominence of real world evidence (RWE) versus evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) as a means of providing data that is of value to stakeholders. RWE studies and RCTs have different advantages and disadvantages, with the potential to complement each other.
RWE studies and RCTs have different advantages and disadvantages, with the potential to complement each other
Calado outlined several key components to ensure data from RWE studies are useful:
- Purpose: Explain why other sources of data or methods were not used (Framework for FDA’s RWE program)
- Content: Deliver evidence not data; imprint emotions in messages and tell a story
- Audience: Tailor and simplify messages for each stakeholder; make no assumptions on knowledge and use simple graphics
- Channel: Try new approaches.
Michael Alexander (European Society of Cardiology [ESC]) examined the role of congress innovations in advancing dissemination of data. Using the ESC congress as an example, Alexander discussed how to bring together experts from around the world using innovation and timing.
Bringing international experts together through innovation and timing
Alexander summarised that state-of-the-art precision scientific messaging does not always equate to success, suggesting that the most effective network for getting the message across is people. Creating a comfortable environment for networking was considered one of ESC’s secrets to success.
…the most effective network for getting the message across is people
The final presentation was by Fiona Plunkett (Articulate Science) who highlighted the importance of communicating information in an impactful way. An enormous repository of data becomes available on a daily basis. Alongside a demanding and busy schedule, the challenge is to keep healthcare professionals abreast of the latest research, without them being overwhelmed and distracted.
…the challenge is to keep healthcare professionals abreast of the latest research, without them being overwhelmed and distracted
Plunkett emphasised how crucial it is to be precise about what needs to be communicated and how it is communicated. Key themes included:
- Visibility: Ensure information can be easily found, accessible and eye catching
- Differentiation: What you are trying to communicate should stand out from the crowd
- Digestible and memorable: Try and make the most of data with publication extenders
- Impact: Assess the impact and build on what works
Open access, summary slide decks, video abstracts and podcasts were all considered useful options to extend the reach of publications, but the landscape of healthcare is evolving to include further digital enhancements such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Ensuring new digital tactics are targeted to the right people at the right time will be key.
Plunkett concluded by emphasising the importance of providing data in different formats. With increasing numbers of publications, it is getting harder to ensure data are seen by the right audience. Physicians have limited time and are seeking new ways of accessing and sharing information. It was agreed by delegates that open access was currently the most effective way of ensuring that data are accessed, read, and built upon.
Member research oral presentations
Laura McGovern (Articulate Science) moderated this session covering three innovative items of member research: harnessing artificial intelligence (AI), preprints and metrics.
AI-based manuscript assessment tool (MAT) aids in quality check and reduces time to journal submission
First up, Trinka D’Cunha (Enago Life Sciences-Crimson Interactive) presented an AI-based manuscript assessment tool (MAT) which could benefit authors and editors by reducing the rate of desk rejection. The AI-based MAT is a single tool that uses deep neural algorithms and rules to check a manuscript against 21 criteria including language, compliance information, plagiarism and alignment with journal scope. Using the AI-based MAT, a 4,000-word manuscript can be assessed in around 2 minutes, compared with 20 hours for manual review, with the two processes making consistent recommendations. Collaboration with seven journals is now seeing the tool being further tailored to their requirements.
Using the AI-based MAT, a 4,000-word manuscript can be assessed in around 2 minutes, compared with 20 hours for manual review
Reach and impact of pharmaceutical industry-affiliated preprints and subsequent peer-reviewed publications
Secondly, Susan Wieting (Takeda) discussed an analysis of the pharmaceutical industry’s use of preprints. Analysing industry-funded clinical trials (2013–2018) and publications authored by members of top 50 pharmaceutical companies (2013–2017), Wieting and colleagues found that:
- Preprints averaged 1,332 views and 443 downloads in the first year.
- 67% were fully published after a mean of 221 days.
The impact and reach of full publications were substantially greater than the corresponding preprints, leading Wieting to conclude that while preprints of industry-funded research are read and shared widely, full publications remain important and impactful.
…while preprints of industry-funded research are read and shared widely, full publications remain important and impactful
A novel ‘value-based’ metric framework to measure the influence of scientific publications
Finally, Avishek Pal (Novartis) presented a novel ‘value-based’ metric framework designed to quantify publication impact, based on metrics that are most aligned with the priorities of publication planners and wider cross-functional teams. Incorporating both traditional and alternative metrics, the framework assesses publication value from social, scholarly and societal perspectives as well as providing an overall, transparent aggregate score. Early indications of the likely future impact are also provided by the framework.
Pal emphasised that the team are actively seeking feedback on potential developments for the framework, with planned next steps including the incorporation of social media sentiment analysis, additional data sources and competitor analysis.
Keynote 2: Medical technologies with the potential to revolutionise healthcare
In the second of the meeting’s keynote lectures, Amelia Kallman, a leading London futurist, speaker and author, presented an overview of new technologies that may impact healthcare over the next 5–10 years, including 5G, machine learning and AI; introducing delegates to the concepts of virtual, augmented and mixed reality. Kallman described how these new technologies will open up new ways of experiencing and interacting with data and people.
New medical technologies: a definition of technical terms
- Machine learning: ability of a computer system to automatically learn
- Artificial intelligence: where computer systems perform tasks typically undertaken by humans
- Virtual reality: uses a headset to immerse users in a digital environment
- Augmented reality: uses a device to overlay digital 2D content onto physical objects, people and environments
- Mixed reality: interactive 360°, 3D imagery, or virtual holograms, overlaid onto real environments
- Holoport: creation of a 3D holographic model of a person transmitted in real-time anywhere in the world
Kallman discussed several innovative medical technologies that are already available or in development, including:
- Pillo: a device that alerts users to take their medication
- Mojo Lens: an augmented reality contact lens
- Implantable brain–machine interfaces, developed by Neuralink
- Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, a mixed reality device
- Voxon’s 3D volumetric technology that allows X-rays to be visualised without headsets or glasses.
In the future, physicians may use Holoports to ’visit’ patients in their homes and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles could bring doctors’ offices to patients.
Novel medical technologies have potential to add emotional engagement to an experience. An example provided was a jacket that allows people with hearing difficulty to ‘feel’ music. Kallman also described how virtual reality has been used to let adults see neglect and abuse through a child’s eyes, which has resulted in changing the way caregivers treat children in 91% of cases. AI can also be used to turn brain signals into speech, to help those with speech difficulties to communicate.
Kallman considered how new technologies could be leveraged to support the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, new technologies have the potential to democratise medical training through their extended reach. As an example of the potential reach, Kallman cited a virtual concert held by DJ Marshmello in the video game Fortnite reached more than 10 million people. Virtual reality simulators can also be used for surgical training.
Although they hold much promise, new reality technologies are not without future risk, including:
- Data risks: hacking
- Human risks (mental and physical): potential for disorientation in the real world environment and desensitisation to potentially fatal real world risks.
As yet, there are no digital consent laws, and appropriate legislation for new medical technologies may be needed in the future.
Although they hold much promise,
new reality technologies are not without future risk
#TheISMPPFutureRocks: Futurescape: immersive, inventive and in your hands
The final session, moderated by recent The Publication Plan interviewee Simon Stones (Collaboro Consulting), brought the meeting’s key themes together to consider how new technologies will influence healthcare and medical communications in the future.
Firstly, Richard Ashdown (McCann Health Medical Communications) emphasised that delivering information in ways that patients can consume is essential to addressing the anxiety that they can experience around their condition. Ashdown highlighted some exciting developments in diagnostics and precision medicine, including DxtER and Breath Biopsy. However, lower-tech methods still have key roles to play; email and in-person, patient-to-patient conversations facilitated by medical societies are still highly valued by patients. For children, who rapidly adopt technology, gameplay may help to address anxiety and improve understanding around their health conditions. Xploro is one such solution.
During the panel discussion, Ashdown noted that communicating with the patient in mind is key to the future of medical communications, but that the industry may need to ‘upskill’ and must be cognisant of changes in information consumption in order to meet patients’ needs in future.
…medical communications industry may need to ‘upskill’ and must be cognisant of changes in information consumption in order to meet patients’ needs in future
Mohammad Al-Ubaydli discussed innovations that empower patients, including his own experience as the CEO of Patients Know Best, an enterprise that aims to ensure all patients have access to their medical records, can understand them, and can use this information to support shared decision-making.
Al-Ubaydli noted that in this climate of increased specialisation, patients are often best placed to synthesise information and may also be able to spot things that healthcare providers have missed. A case study of an inflammatory bowel disease department that adopted the ‘Patient Knows Best’ approach, showed improvements in both clinical outcomes and cost savings. In the ensuing discussion, concerns were raised about the potential ‘language barrier’ for patients when interpreting their medical records. Al-Ubaydli emphasised that patients are able to overcome such difficulties; the main barrier is access.
A number of other innovations were discussed:
- Decision-making support platforms: CMyLife and MyIBDCare
- Social health networks, which support groups of patients to share and create knowledge: PatientsLikeMe and HealthUnlocked
- Real-time home monitoring, reducing time spent in hospital: Current Health and io.
In the future, healthcare professionals need to adapt to online consultations, sharing medical information with patients, and accepting novel sources of information from patients.
…healthcare professionals need to adapt to online consultations, sharing medical information with patients, and accepting novel sources of information from patients
In the final presentation of the session, Catherine Skobe (Pfizer), focused on real world data and AI as the two main drivers of precision medicine.
While genomics and social media offer two relatively new sources of real world data, ways of collecting these data are changing. Voice assistants (e.g. Amazon’s Alexa) can deliver reputable health information, and wearables (e.g. smart watches) can collect it. Adopting smart technologies could save significant amounts of healthcare professional time, which could be reinvested into patient care (as highlighted in the 2019 UK Topol Review: Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future).
Adopting smart technologies could save significant amounts of healthcare professional time
For the pharmaceutical industry, new data sources present significant opportunities, but also risks, such as those surrounding data integrity and compliance. AI may be leveraged to analyse unstructured real world data, but caution must be exercised to ensure validated, unbiased results. Skobe closed by looking to the future, noting that increased patient involvement throughout the medical communications process will form a cornerstone.
Poster awards and exhibitor prize raffle
The following poster award winners were announced:
- Best reflective of meeting theme:
- Dheepa Chari: Defining a process of developing and disseminating abstract plain language summaries for scientific congresses: A case study
- Best original research
- Maria Haughton: Prevalence, visibility, and reach of abstracts on the video-sharing platform, YouTube
- Most valuable digital enhancement
- Maria Haughton: Prevalence, visibility, and reach of abstracts on the video-sharing platform, YouTube
After a successful and thought-provoking 2 days, the 2020 European Meeting of ISMPP drew to a close. Jane Nunn (Complete HealthVizion), Rhiannon Meaden (Complete HealthVizion) and Robert J. Matheis (ISMPP President and CEO) thanked the delegates, the meeting faculty, the Programme Committee, and the meeting sponsors and exhibitors for their participation in yet another successful and informative ISMPP European Meeting.
Presentations will be posted to the ISMPP European Meeting Archive in due course.
Written as part of a Media Partnership between ISMPP and The Publication Plan, by Aspire Scientific, an independent medical writing agency led by experienced editorial team members, and supported by MSc and/or PhD-educated writers.
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