By Alison Chisholm (Principal Writer) and Agnieszka Ragan (Medical Writer), Oxford PharmaGenesis

This year’s ISMPP EU meeting went fully virtual, with some striking changes to the format, and delivered some powerful insights into current topics in medical publications and planning. You can read our thoughts on Day 1 here. This is what we learned from Day 2.

Opening Remarks & Plenary – Needs, Expectations and the Future of Scientific Communications: What Do Our Key Stakeholders Really Think?

James Read (Director of Policy and Communications, MSD) asserted that publications are central to scientific enterprise and reputation. They enshrine the value of an organization’s efforts and are a key component of an organization’s scientific profile and reputation.

The multi-stakeholder ISMPP panel stressed that the value of publications is optimized by involving publication experts early in evidence generation discussions. Thinking about publications early allows the opportunity to schedule communications around key data read outs and to identify optimum channels and partners for data dissemination, as well as maximizing the time available to put the necessary steps and relationships into place.

Danie du Plessis (Executive Vice-president Medical, Kyowa Kirin International plc.) also suggested that publication planning should be superseded by ‘data dissemination planning’. This repositioning better reflects the expanding role of the publication professional as a communication consultant, who can provide advice and strategic insights into the optimum channels and formats for sharing different data types.

A range of areas were highlighted as core to excellence in data dissemination.

  • Robust understanding of real-world evidence and patient reported outcomes.
  • Communications expertise across social media channels.
  • Ability to identify and collaborate with patients and patient advisory groups to inform meaningful data generation and patient-facing communications.
  • Ability to identify and support digital thought leaders.
  • Ability to pre-empt need for consultation with compliance teams when working across new media channels.

Keynote: Ableism in Medical Research and Impact on Health Equality

Data from 2018–2019 show that around 20% of people in the UK are living with disability. Clinical trials do not reflect this proportion, and there are no comprehensive data on participation of people with disabilities in medical research.

The consequences are bigger than misrepresentation of one-fifth of the UK population. Research might be skewed towards ‘healthier’ people, which puts its scientific validity into question.

During the pandemic-related overburden of healthcare system, people with disabilities were sometimes wrongly classified as frail and denied medical help. Additionally, the lengthy policies and lockdown rules were not understandable and accessible to all, which has put people with disabilities at further risk.

The solution is to increase the visibility of people with disabilities, encourage their career support and provide the public with appropriate, ongoing awareness training on unconscious bias towards disability.

As disability is still associated with poverty, unemployment and difficulties in accessing healthcare, the recruitment of disabled patients to clinical trials requires a dedicated approach. Medical communication should be accessible to all, and where appropriate, the carers of patients with disabilities included and consulted in clinical research.

Member Research Oral Presentations

Do traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) exist in the same or different communities?

The authors identified and compared professional activities of KOLs (identified based on their publication record) and DOLs (identified based on their field-relevant Twitter activity) in atrial fibrillation. The two groups were then compared for online activity and publication records.

There was a vast gap between the communications activities of the two groups. KOLs were all publishing regularly and were almost entirely absent from social media, while DOLs had various levels of social media engagement and a similarly varied publication record.

These results indicate that KOLs and DOLs operate in different information spaces. This may change with time, as DOLs can gain or lose influence over time, while KOLs might discover new opportunities and channels of communication.

Reform and enhancement of scientific posters: what was the extent of innovation in 2020?

Scientific posters have been slowly evolving in the conference space, but the current shift towards virtual meetings has accelerated this change.

Researchers looked at three oncology congresses, ASCO, ESMO and EHA, to study how new redesigned posters were utilized. They considered features including templates with prominent conclusions, central figures or enhanced features available via QR code (such as narration, video or a plain language summary).

Of the three congresses, ASCO had the most posters with a reformatted layout, which points to a proactive promotion of those formats by the congress organizers. Additionally, more than half of posters at ASCO were accompanied by video narration.

Furthermore, the use of reformatted scientific posters at congresses in 2020 was most common in industry-sponsored presentations, particularly those developed with writing agency support.

Using social media to drive engagement with scientific posters

With changes to scientific meeting formats, posters have become less discoverable, and this has stimulated new approaches to design and signposting. Social media, particularly Twitter, are widely used at medical conferences and can serve to enhance the visibility and accessibility of posters.

However, not all tweets are equal. To drive traffic effectively, a tweet should include multimedia (a high-quality picture or a video clip) and a link leading to the poster. It should also use relevant hashtags, be related to other tweets and mention other Twitter users by name to enhance the visibility and reach of the post.

Perhaps most importantly, a social media profile needs a solid network of followers, and needs to stay active and visible beyond the congress date to drive optimal engagement with poster content.