Ensuring quality in medical communications

28 July 2023

A third of pharmaceutical clients cite substandard medical writing capabilities and a lack of attention to detail as reasons to find new agency partners, according to a PM Society survey.* This reflects the real challenge clients face in finding agencies that can truly deliver consistent quality. One potential solution is for agencies to invest in an expert editorial team dedicated to quality assurance.

Typically, medical communications agencies employ only a few editors to service accounts across the whole company. They proof, format and fact-check materials for multiple client accounts but tend not to become fully immersed in the nuances of each therapy area or brand. As a result, many of the more specialist editorial functions fall to medical writers or account executives who may not have the necessary skills to perform these tasks optimally.

At Wave we have developed a different model, where each client account has an allocated editor to perform rigorous quality control (QC) checks, manage compliance and oversee the approval process. This model enables each editor to develop an in-depth understanding of their client’s house style, therapy area, review systems and even individual reviewer preferences, ensuring consistent delivery of top-quality materials.

This team structure allows the writers and account executives to focus on their chosen specialities and ultimately means the right people are assigned to the right tasks from the outset. Consequently, tasks are completed to a higher standard the first time around, thereby maximising cost efficiencies and saving countless hours of client time.

"It’s difficult finding agencies that are able to continuously deliver quality, compliant work. We’ve certainly seen the benefits of working with an agency that has a larger editorial team – we are finding our review process runs smoother and the final programmes are of better quality.”

Product Management Team Lead, Global Pharma

Higher quality programmes

Investing in a specialist editorial team enables other team members to work where they add the most value, and away from time-consuming editorial tasks. It gives writers plenty of room to transform a client’s vision, data and messaging into engaging content and plays to their strengths as science communicators. It is then up to the editorial team to perfect each material. For particularly important items, where impact is paramount, senior editors with advanced copyediting skills can be brought in to hone key messages, tighten wording and improve content flow even further. Structuring the teams this way is an effective approach to delivering higher quality materials and programmes that have more impact.

More efficient approvals

A key advantage of this editorial model is that each editor essentially becomes the gatekeeper to their client’s approval system. Having editors who are not only responsible for proofing and perfecting materials but also for managing the review systems and tracking reviewer preferences means that they build up all the client-specific knowledge they need to prevent substandard materials from entering review. This leads to fewer amends and review rounds, a reduced burden on reviewers and ultimately ensures efficient delivery of projects within agreed timelines and budgets.

Superior compliance support

In an era of increased compliance scrutiny, it is especially important for medical education to be code compliant. Therefore, every editor is comprehensively trained on relevant regulations and guidance, and the editorial team’s QC process always involves a thorough compliance review. Having a well-trained team that is dedicated to ensuring every material is compliant results in smooth approvals and means the agency can provide a higher level of compliance support and advice to clients. An added benefit of this is that the team truly understands how to maximise impact without crossing the line into non-compliance.

In summary, investing in an expert editorial team presents an effective way for medical communications agencies to consistently and efficiently deliver top-quality, compliant work and maintain excellent client relationships long-term.

*PM Society survey can be found on the PM Society website https://pmsociety.org.uk/pm-society-pitch-practice-survey-2019/

If you think Wave would be a good fit to support you with your next project and you would like to hear more about how the team can help you, please get in touch at: James@wavehealthcare.co.uk

Wave is a global healthcare communications agency. We combine scientific, medical and brand expertise to deliver clinically focussed programmes which are trusted by HCPs and drive better patient outcomes. To find out more about us, click here.