In February 2020, a small group of medical publication professionals from pharmaceutical, publishing and medical communications companies came together in San Diego, CA for TIPPA 2020. Oxford PharmaGenesis attended as a gold sponsor of the event, with Brian Falcone, Ruvini Jayasinghe and Rachel Brown from the Philadelphia office on hand for two full days of presentations, panels and discussions on best practice for building medical communications strategies within our changing industry.
Day 1 kicked off with a keynote address from Burnedette Rose Hill, Deputy Director of Scientific and Medical Publications at Sanofi Pasteur, who encouraged the group to challenge institutionalized thinking and old habits to drive innovation in medical communications. Additional presentations and panel discussions focused on the following: integrating new technology to enhance collaboration; opportunities for innovation to drive effective communications; how to incorporate HEOR and effect size into publication plans; planning and executing simultaneous publications; and the grey zones of authorship (and how to navigate those tricky situations). Brian Falcone, Executive Vice President of our Philadelphia office, gave a presentation on the principles and evidence behind effective communications that encouraged attendees to consider how effective our publication models really are, given data that suggest the standard manuscript format is not effective. This presentation sparked lots of discussion and interest among attendees on potential alternatives and additional components that might be effective in improving information sharing while remaining compliant and including patient voices. There was active discussion around ways to utilize new technologies in publications, including video abstracts for manuscripts, and using QR codes to provide access to patient narratives alongside congress presentations to add value and increase the accessibility of data.
In addition to the talks, a series of round-table discussions in the evening allowed attendees to gather over drinks for more informal discussion of publication metrics and impact, advantages and disadvantages of preprints, approaches to competitive intelligence and the pros and cons of open access.
Day 2 started with an inspiring presentation from Shasta Rayne Harner, Vice President of the Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group, on strategies for and barriers to the effective involvement of patients in the publications process. This was followed by a panel discussion on patient advocacy, including patients as authors, and the importance of plain language summaries for building trust between patients and clinical research teams. From the discussion, it was clear that all attendees recognized the critical importance of getting patients involved in clinical trial design and execution, but they are generally unsure on how best to approach and engage patients. Patient advocates flagged that many patients want to be involved with clinical research but are put off by incomprehensible study designs and summaries, by stigmatizing and marginalizing language, and by absolute statements in publications that throw up barriers to patients who are hoping to see their own experience in clinical trials. Amanda Green, the LA Lupus Lady and patient advocate, explained the importance of word choice by relaying a story of a patient who said, “Don’t call it a journey unless you’re taking me on a cruise!” Something as simple as using ‘patient experience’ instead of ‘patient journey’ can lower barriers and enhance engagement with this vital stakeholder.
Additional discussions on Day 2 centred around trends in scientific dissemination and open access with a panel of experts from the publishing side of the industry, error rate in publications (much higher than you would like to imagine!), and the rise in increasingly aggressive predatory journals and congresses. Key takeaways from these sessions are the need for us as medical communications professionals to reach out and engage with journal editors, to be aware of predatory practices, and to identify ways to improve the accuracy of our materials to ensure the highest quality deliverables. The meeting was characterized by a very high level of attendee participation and interactive discussion around the many issues raised. While it was clear that there may not be consensus throughout the industry on some of these issues, particularly among different publishers and sometimes competing sponsors, there were many opportunities to share experiences and talk through scenarios that provided a great deal of insight into best practices from a variety of backgrounds.