Highlights from ISMPP EU 2024: Artificial Intelligence, Patient Engagement, and Measuring Success in Publications

Written by Jon Viney, Scientific Team Lead on Monday 5th February 2024

In late January 2024, a large team from OPEN Health met in London for the ISMPP EU 2024 meeting. The theme was “Innovation: The New Tradition” and sessions explored current and future challenges/opportunities in medical communications and publications in three tracks: innovation, collaboration, and evaluation. The meeting featured plenary talks, member-led roundtable sessions, poster and oral presentations, as well as interactive “sprint” workshops to discuss challenges and their potential solutions.

OPEN Health’s key take-home messages from the meeting included the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the importance of patient engagement, and measuring success in publications.

The use of AI

  • The potential use of AI is vast (most sessions mentioned it), but there is uncertainty among the community about its current practicalities and readiness for use. The ISMPP position statement on AI was highlighted as important for all stakeholders to consider when utilizing AI tools
  • Plain language summaries (PLSs) are “low hanging fruit” in terms of an initial use case due to
    AI-written summaries scoring higher in readability than human-written summaries when measured by various readability indices (although the use of readability tools alone should be cautioned in the assessment of quality and understanding)
  • The use of AI for systematic literature reviews (SLRs) was also explored due to substantial time saving this might provide in screening and assessing publications; some evidence is already showing AI abstract screening is less error prone than human screening. There are however considerations regarding upfront investment and requirements for ongoing updates and training
  • Concerns regarding the use of AI included “hallucinations,” ie, the tendency for large language models (LLMs) to provide incorrect information when generating text. However, techniques such as retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) may ameliorate this. Data security was also highlighted by pharmaceutical and agency stakeholders; proprietary and sandboxed AI tools will likely be the future of any large-scale AI utilization

The importance of patient engagement

  • PLSs and PLS publications (PLSPs; ie, a standalone article that summarizes a clinical research article, as opposed to a short PLS included with an original article) were noted as valuable for patients, however there is a need to increase their discoverability. A new collaboration by publishers to potentially set up a user-friendly site for PLSs was welcomed
  • Communications to patients can be optimized through the application of omnichannel principles. By establishing patient profiles or “personas,” tailored messages can be crafted to respond to particular beliefs or characteristics
  • Guidance and frameworks are needed to ensure that the identification of and engagement with patients is carried out properly and that the patient voice is heard. Since different stakeholders have different approaches for patient involvement in publications, such a framework would need to include planning/timelines, renumeration, authorship criteria, data privacy, and global vs local process considerations
  • Ultimately, patient involvement in publications can enable ethical and effective partnerships, increase the confidence of healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the relevance of their research, and help the industry as a whole drive accessibility and credibility

Measuring success in publications

  • Success was defined differently by different stakeholders. Publishers may view increased article citations, other metrics, or positive media impact as criteria for the success of a publication, while agencies may consider factors such as writing quality, adherence to timelines and guidelines, and client and author satisfaction. Importantly, the pharmaceutical industry ultimately considers insight generation for the therapy area and the informing of medical strategy the key metrics of success
  • Enhanced publication content or publication extenders are tools increasingly used to further the reach of traditional manuscripts. Enhanced content generally refers to material submitted alongside a manuscript and may include a supplement, PLS, or graphical abstract. Publication extenders represent material not necessarily included with a submission; they can be forms of “micro-content” such as infographics and talking head videos hosted on external sites. Research shows that while such content is viewed as important, more could be done to improve access through journal websites
  • Collaboration was also noted as important to achieving success. In a panel discussion, sharing knowledge, whether between stakeholders during publication development or at forums such as ISMPP, was highlighted as essential for success, as was representation across stakeholders and working toward a common goal with an established framework

The meeting saw the publication of the Accurate Consensus Reporting Document (ACCORD) checklist, the first reporting guidelines applicable to all studies that use consensus methods. Presenting the checklist, Niall Harrison, Senior Scientific Director at OPEN Health and Co-Chair of the ACCORD Steering Committee, highlighted that improved reporting of consensus methods has the potential to enhance the trust and confidence of readers in the recommendations made by consensus panels. In a separate poster presentation, which won the “Best Original Research” award, the ACCORD Steering Committee presented a pilot study showing that users found the checklist easy to understand and easy to use. The full checklist has been published in PLoS Medicine.

The OPEN Health team was also proud to lead four roundtable sessions:

  • “Harnessing innovations in AI for medical communications” explored the use of AI for PLSs and SLRs. Attendees highlighted the benefits of AI in terms of speed and ease of use, but questions remain regarding the accuracy of LLMs and data security. Attendees felt that currently, although the process requires guard rails in terms of prompt training and internal review, PLSs are a possible use case with publicly available tools
  • “Integrating patients into the publications process: how to develop internal guidelines that support patient authorship” provided a discussion on the requirements for effective and practical internal guidelines on patient authorship. Patients should be provided with the right tools and training to contribute to author kick-off meetings and HCPs must be given guidance for interacting with patient authors. Stakeholder guidance for renumeration would be beneficial
  • “Innovative approaches to drive a sustainable medical affairs plan​” addressed the key topics of environmental protection, access to healthcare, and ethics and transparency in the development of a sustainable medical affairs plan. Recommendations to deliver sustainability included having one global-to-local plan, the use of modular content, developing enduring digital content, and using innovative virtual options for scientific meetings
  • In “Transforming the traditional scientific platform to be fit for the future,” the attendees agreed that planning and guidance is key for a scientific platform so that stakeholders are informed of rationale, purpose, and use. Clear accountability should be defined, but updates should be made collaboratively and users should be given training on the platform. Digital tools, video updates, and future use of AI for statement assessment were discussed

Overall, ISMPP EU 2024 was a valuable meeting, highlighting the potential for the future use of AI within the publication industry and some of the advances made in publication planning and delivery, while also providing opportunities for best practice sharing and discussion.

We look forward to seeing you at the ISMPP US 2024 meeting!

 - The OPEN Health team

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