ISMPP 2022: Omnichannel, the first step for future-ready medical communications?

Written by Trish Shepherd, Global Head of Business Development on Tuesday 24th May 2022

As a first-time attendee at the annual conference of International Society of Medical Publications Professionals (ISMPP), I will admit I was a bit nervous. The theme for the week was future-ready medical communications so I was concerned that my promotional and PR background would have me left in the dust. I have long respected the publications process; knowing that without the dedication to compliance and process rigor from the many teams that devise, develop, and deliver publications plans, our industry simply would not work.

Importance of plain language summaries

But the more sessions I joined, the more excited I became. The publications industry is hungry to explore new approaches and it was evident that there is a shift in pace and prioritization of tactics. Some deliverables previously considered as a “nice to have” or “recommended” are now gaining priority status. There is a particular focus on adopting plain language summaries as standard, in addition to further tactics to extend reach, such as video abstracts, podcasts, and infographics. There were also discussions around the need to develop plain language summaries not only for manuscripts, but also for conference activities. Termed abstract plain language summaries, these materials help patients keep abreast of the most recent findings relative to their conditions.

However, incorporating these at the publications planning stage is essential to ensuring seamless and appropriate execution

The need to disseminate a steady flow of high-quality, credible data will never go away. But with the changing dynamics, publications professionals are facing a crossroads: how do they deliver against their fundamental data dissemination obligations while embracing new modalities? And how do they do this under increasing pressure to drive greater impact with fewer resources and limited budgets?

Adopting omnichannel strategies for improved audience engagement

Unsurprisingly, interest in omnichannel is now awakening. Yes, the pandemic may have accelerated this, but we all know it is not a new concept. In fact, most (if not all) pharma professionals, healthcare professionals, and lay audiences engage in an omnichannel environment every day. They may not call it omnichannel but when it is done well, audiences value the experience, they learn and in return they want to seek and engage more.

Medical Affairs omnichannel will be the tool to guide publications professionals down the right path

But this cannot happen within pharma industry teams alone, particularly in larger multi-national pharma organizations where operating structures cannot change overnight.

But once again, the desire to maximize new approaches is there. Agencies that can tap into omnichannel resources will play an important role in the accelerated adoption of omnichannel initiatives in the publications space. Future success hinges on an agency’s ability to work in partnership not only with clients but also with in-house publications experts, omnichannel strategists, and content strategists, who can collectively assess the data dissemination landscape, which now includes industry events, peer-reviewed publications, owned platforms, and social media.


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