In The Unique Challenges of Pharma Content, we discuss challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies in the creation and management of content. Here is a short list:

  • Takes too long to create, approve, and deliver content
  • Cannot leverage or reuse content across documents and organizational silos
  • Cannot manage the high volume of variations and versions
  • Wasted time in manual formatting and reformatting of content 
  • Wasted time in “copy, paste, and tweak” of old content
  • Too much content / too little content
  • The right amount of content, but the wrong content
  • Can’t find content that needs to be updated
  • Can’t retire content in an efficient, strategic way

Now let’s look at some ways to solve pharma content challenges.

How to Solve Pharma Content Challenges

Pharmaceutical companies have looked at several strategies to tackle their content-related challenges. There’s talk of new tools and systems. There’s talk of AI and automation. There’s talk of process improvements and corporate reorganizations.

What people forget to talk about is the most basic starting point of all: the content. If you don’t start with the content – if you build your content strategy plans based on the idea that content just appears from somewhere – then your digital transformation initiative is doomed to fail. 

New tools and new roles for people are part of the solution. But without standardized, structured content, pharma companies cannot achieve their business goal of reducing time to market.

The solution involves a combination of process, people, and technology.

  • Process – We need to change how pharma “does” content. We need to implement a new ecosystem for how content is created, managed, and delivered. This ecosystem must be based on best practices for standardized, structured content and a content strategy that is unique to each company’s needs.
  • People – We need people to create the vision, communicate the vision, and lead the company through the transformation from current state to future goal. We also need people to do the work of transformation. We may not need new people, but we need people to develop new skills and take on new roles.
  • Technology – We need systems and integrations in place to provide automation and ensure quality, compliance, and efficiency throughout the content lifecycle.

What people forget to talk about is the most basic starting point of all: the content. 

Documents Don’t Scale – Components Do

How can you create and deliver pharma content quickly, accurately, and efficiently at scale? 

There is only one way: Break up monolithic documents into small, nimble, reusable components. 

A content component is the smallest unit of content that can be mixed and matched with other components to create an output. 

An output is an assembly of components, such as a drug product label or a medication guide.

The same components can be used to create multiple outputs. For example, a component that describes an adverse event may be used in a clinical study report, a USPI, and an SmPC.

For every document that needs to provide a certain nugget of information, reuse the component that provides that information. Don’t create a copy. Don’t tweak it. Reuse the content as it is. Focus medical writers on writing the valuable, unique content that is necessary for that report.

For example, rather than creating an entire Clinical Study Report (CSR) by starting at page 1 and writing to page 400 (or 4,000), medical writers can write, store, and manage the content in small chunks. Standardized components make it possible to reuse the same chunks of content in various places throughout the dossier. Multiple authors can work on the same report at the same time, each one in the area where they contribute their specialized expertise.

Better yet, standardize the text and use variables as placeholders for the study data. For each new study, the variables are replaced by the appropriate data. Medical writers can focus on writing the unique content for each study rather than repeating sentences they’ve written 100 times before, simply to hold the data. This redundancy costs time and money that pharma companies can no longer afford to waste.

Content Reuse Is the Opposite of Content Redundancy

Content Rules has participated in content-analysis efforts across multiple dossiers, using both human evaluators and software-harmonization systems. It turns out, there’s quite a bit of redundancy across pharma content. Throughout any given dossier and across multiple dossiers, we consistently find the same concept or process described in many different ways. Writers often use different words to convey the same meaning.

In every case, the pharma teams were surprised to learn just how much redundancy there is. Even when they know that content is similar because the writers do so much copy, paste, and tweak across the documents, our analyses results are eye-opening.  

How much of this repetition is necessary and how much is habit? That’s where your content reuse and automation strategy comes in. Content reuse and automation depend on a component-based, structured content ecosystem.

The good news is this type of content ecosystem has been proven to work in every industry.  Pharma stands to reap the benefits of proven best practices and mature technologies as they transform their content ecosystem as part of the industry-wide effort to develop safe, effective drugs faster at less cost. 

Content Rules, Inc. is one of the oldest and most established content strategy firms in the industry. Our content transformation methodology has been proven in life sciences over the past 20 years. Our content strategists are experienced with the unique challenges of pharma content, as well as the common content challenges that all enterprises face. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you solve your content challenges.

Regina Lynn Preciado