The explosive growth in the volume of content generated, coupled with the need to build modular content to enable reuse, repurpose, and personalization has a direct impact on the MLR review processes. Thus, the failure of MLR teams to match the speed of content creation could result in a bottleneck situation, delaying content turnaround times and therefore hampering end-user experiences.
At the Indegene Digital Summit 2022, Rene Ott, Head of Global and US Medical Information - Oncology at AstraZeneca, and Andrés White, Head of Global Marketing Operations at Allergan Aesthetics, got together to debate and share insights on this very topic. They discussed about how the way life sciences conduct their MLR operations – both on the commercial and medical side - needs to evolve with the changing content consumption trends and become a key enabler of providing superior customer experiences to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients alike. The whole idea is how can life sciences organizations go to market faster, and with the right information, through seamless integration of technology? How can they bring down cycle times, emphasize hyper compliance and so on and so forth?
Sharing below some excerpts from the fireside chat at the Indegene Digital Summit.
The success of seamless omnichannel content experiences that the life sciences industry is trying to create today depends heavily on aspects like the way content is created, processed, and reviewed. Also, factors such as the number of content consumption channels, campaign types, and frequency of campaigns, add on to the complexity of the task at hand. Therefore, organizations can no longer create content and execute MLR operations using traditional manual methods, hence, adopting technology to automate is inevitable. Technologies like AI and NLP can provide a big boost if implemented suitably in processes like claims management, proofreading, content comparison, global to local content cascading, etc., and can vastly reduce content turnaround times.
Interestingly enough, a 2021 survey to assess status of digital adoption in Medical Affairs, by the Medical Affairs Digital Strategy Council, revealed that 71% of survey respondents had already implemented digital for MLR. Though, a lot of them are grappling with the silos between these technology solutions.
Figure 1: Status of digital adoption in Medical Affairs
Source: Survey by Medical Affairs Digital Strategy Council
“At the moment there is no single platform that allows or is suited to really handle an on the channel process end to end from a content management, approval and execution process. There are single areas where technology is really ready for primetime. But unfortunately, the magic bullet is missing.”, says Rene Ott.
Historically, MLR has been a very reactive and transactional exercise, with the MLR teams being consulted only after content is completely developed. However, as the volume of content creation increases and content consumption patterns evolve, the traditional waterfall model of operations does not fit the bill. Extreme content personalization with very short turnaround times requires a new level of agility across the content value chain. Therefore, it becomes very important for content creation and review teams to work in close collaboration, where they understand the customer needs and create an agile content strategy with review becoming more proactive and shifting far more upstream in the content lifecycle.
Figure 2: Illustrative example of agile content creation and MLR process for campaigns
Source: Indegene whitepaper on the future of content review in life sciences organizations
“If you don't have that collaboration and that support internally, things will not work right. So, you may have the best, but then you will not be able to operate it.” –says Andres White
The challenge though is that it is easier said than implemented. Such collaborated efforts require substantial change management as well as a high level of discipline in terms of alignment, engagement, cocreation and clear communication with MLR leadership, within internal teams, across cross-functional teams (compliance, legal, commercial, marketing, medical), with teams across multiple geographies as well as with external partners.
“Alignment with MLR leadership is vital to ensure that any new process is piloted and rolled out correctly, so it delivers success in the long term.” – Andres White
There is no doubt that automation of MLR is the way forward, though many organizations are still underway in achieving their desired state of automation. AI/ML if leveraged right can take over 80% of review and approval responsibilities. And when this happens, we can truly say that MLR operations are on autopilot with reviewers coming in only for high-risk content and to cocreate de-novo content.
“If I think about the future, the automated process or a semi-automated process will basically have the technology and rules in place and then have a continuous risk-based monitoring setup. Then the scientifically trained personnel will basically be making the judgment and ensuring that this process is working.” - Rene Ott
The future will also be about smaller pilots for new innovative processes and learning on the go to make changes as necessary. The innovation mindset comes with prerequisites of being agile and able to collaborate, co-create, and take those calculated risks – to fail fast, yet learn and improvise on the go quickly and efficiently– while aiming towards transforming MLR to deliver the ultimate goal of superior customer experiences.