5 Practical Tips to Deliver Medical Education Programs Successfully

28 November 2022
5 Practical Tips to Deliver Medical Education Programs Successfully <br>

This article is based on the Reuters Pharma event held on 28 September 2022 in Tokyo, Japan with Kevin Lim, Regional Medical Operations & Excellence Director, Novartis (APAC/MEA), Bartosz Lukowski, Immunology Medical Head, UCB (Japan), and Catherine Skobe, Publications Innovative Solutions Lead, Pfizer (USA)

If you’re looking for ways to put useful medical information in clinicians’ hands, you might have reached some obstacles. How can you share content and still comply with tight regulations for pharma companies? And how will you know you’re making an impact with the right people?

Here we share five tips from the experts who took part in a roundtable we held in Japan, to help you deliver a medical education program that helps you get your message across in 2023.

Medical education programs: The challenges

Healthcare professionals need the latest medical information. Yet when the world’s medical knowledge doubles every 73 days, how is this even possible?

There are ways to cut through this overwhelming amount of information – and pharma companies have an important role to play in helping healthcare professionals find the right one.

But running an effective medical education program for a pharma company has its own challenges. There is a common perception that anything from pharma is promotional, which is an obstacle to engagement. And compliance is a big factor to consider, depending on your location. In Japan, for example, regulation is relatively strict and limits medical education programs.

It’s worth overcoming the challenges to deliver a medical education program that supports healthcare professionals. Pharma companies can help clinicians find the information they need to provide high-quality patient care faster. So what could the solutions look like?

Our tips for delivering a medical education program

1. Make the content discoverable and accessible. It’s important to understand what your audience is looking for, so you make the content findable. Open access publishing ensures everyone can access the information they discover. And plain language summaries can make the information easy to scan and understand – not just for patients but clinicians too.

“Once HCPs have read a plain language summary, it gives them that taste or feel of what's to come,” said Catherine Skobe, who co-leads the scientific publications committee at Pfizer. “And then if they're interested, then they go to the full peer reviewed journal.”

2. Get online and be concise. In a healthcare survey we ran in Japan1, we found that 63% of healthcare professionals search for information online every day – and they want it in a format that’s easy to consume. Looking to the future, in Japan, 91% of respondents believe that medical education is headed online. Content, communication and congresses are already going digital, and enhanced content can improve engagement.

“We've been developing video abstracts, disseminating these to a wide range of physicians, and we found this quite effective,” said Bart Lukowski, who leads the medical affairs immunology team at UCB in Japan. “It is hard to communicate knowledge in two minutes, but what you eventually do is create a sense of engagement, which really helps us to improve the recognition of the medical affairs function.”

3. Sponsor independent education. There are many opportunities to sponsor medical education content, whether it’s an in-person event run by a medical education provider or an online program run by a society, for example. By sponsoring medical education independently, you can raise awareness of cutting-edge discoveries, monitor the evolution in the knowledge, attitude and practice of HCPs on a topic, and improve outcomes for patients living with a disease.

Sponsorship is one of four non-promotional approaches Novartis takes to reaching HCPs with education content. Kevin Lim, who oversees medical excellence for Novartis in the Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa region, said: “With sponsorships […] we can solicit, so we can go to a medical education provider and express our interest in providing medical education on a particular disease area.”

4. Set targets and measure your progress. Set a clear objective, considering the need you want to meet. While marketing engagement is often focused on the numbers, medical affairs is about the quality and value of the interactions, so it’s useful to choose qualitative and quantitative KPIs to measure your progress. Engagement is a long-term endeavor, particularly as the aim is to change and maintain new behavior among HCPs over time. Plan to track your impact and consider using altmetrics – like Altmetric from Digital Science – to measure engagement.

“In medical affairs, I think KPIs are really about the value story that you can build based on both qualitative and quantitative KPIs that you measure in the field,” Bart Lukowski said.

5. Build partnerships. You can greatly benefit from collaborating with others in the pharma industry. One example is Open Pharma, a multi-pharma consortium whose members include Pfizer, Novartis, UCB, Janssen and Wiley.

Making a consortium helps to provide more balanced information, including a set of treatment options, that would be a way to improve our medical education programs. Choosing a publishing partner like Wiley can extend your impact. As the largest society publisher in academic and scholarly research, you can rely on our established relationships to put together expert editorial boards to curate content for high-quality medical education programs.

Data is king in today's world, and we have the data you need to make an impact. With Wiley, you can track trends early and collaborate with pharma companies so they can disseminate content based on what's being consumed and how.

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1 Wiley HCP engagement survey, August 2021, n=1,016

2 Meaningfulness and Practice of Medical Education Implemented by Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Medical Affairs Departments. https://doi.org/10.51018/pmdrs.52.8_649