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Unlocking Success: Implementation Models and Digital Strategies to Enhance Global Content Adoption

Introduction
Life sciences organizations are constantly re-inventing themselves. The Covid-19 pandemic led to an overhaul of patient and physician engagement models, with digital methods of communication gaining momentum over conventional ones. Additionally, the demographic profile of an average healthcare professional (HCP) has changed; they are younger and content disseminated through a myriad of channels offers them flexibility in access. HCPs and patients now have access to 75 percent more content than they did ten years ago.1
Most organizations are striving to identify customer microsegments and share content that is personalized and relevant. Local medical and marketing teams are constantly churning materials causing a drain at every stage of the content generation process. While the global teams define product messaging at a strategic level, the local teams have the responsibility of maximizing their outreach in a compliant manner. Local regulatory and label differences further complicate this process. Despite having an established global content creation process, most life sciences companies experience very low adoption of global content by the local teams. Primary research conducted for a mid-sized pharmaceutical company found that the adoption rate of global content for various markets varied between 7% and 50%. More importantly, larger dominant markets with larger customer bases tended to adopt much less.2
Unveiling the barriers to global content adoption
Content reuse and repurpose in a highly digitized environment can help optimize the utilization of the company’s resources while ensuring its larger objective toward patient care is continually met. However, before we describe emerging trends in the global content creation process, it will be important to briefly review through the challenges faced by local teams in adopting global content.
Key barriers to global content adoption
Global and local product label differences
Local market regulations
Local affiliate’s competitive landscape
Local HCP segmentation and profile
Insights and analytics from past campaigns
Ease of access to relevant global content
Affiliates cite differences in labels and regulations at regional levels as some of the top reasons for non-utilization of global content. Additionally, teams often create global content when sources of evidence are either limited or at a lower level of hierarchy. Although the core messages align with the label, regulatory frameworks in different markets may necessitate major changes to secondary messages. No systematic feedback mechanism is available through which the local teams can communicate such changes to the global teams. While localization of content for markets will continue to happen, the creation of global content that is robust and is largely aligned with major local labels and regulations can still be attempted.
Ensuring alignment with local affiliates’ competitive landscape and HCP segmentation or profiles presents more challenging barriers to overcome. A lack of understanding at the global level about the messages that resonate in key markets versus in growth markets could impede adoption at the last mile. Global teams could find hugely helpful granular insights about how various messages and means of communications fare in various economies, HCP segments, and patient populations, but these insights are not readily available. The global teams thus work in a disconnected environment with limited resources and information. While above instances are tough to navigate, organizations struggle to resolve even simpler challenges such as increasing searchability and access to relevant high-quality global content through their digital asset management systems.
Navigating global content adoption challenges: Breaking down barriers
So how can life sciences organizations overcome barriers that impede adoption of global content? The first step would be acknowledging the barriers and creating a mindset that is not only ready to navigate through the challenges but is also prepared to overcome behaviors and attitudes. A consultative framework would be absolutely necessary for carving out the most suitable global-to-local strategy for a life sciences organization. Focused discussions with key cross-functional stakeholders such as brand strategists, marketers, medical, legal, and regulatory (MLR) reviewers and compliance and ethics functions will help in understanding the challenges in the content creation and approval process. Assessment of important non-negotiable requirements for key local markets can help global teams plan an effective implementation model. Instead of focusing at “global-to-local” a shift toward “global AND local” process for content creation and its approval are required.
Maximizing impact: Global-to-local strategies and implementation models
Various solutions that can target processes upstream at the global content development stage are available compared with those that can target it at mid-stream or downstream levels. The solution chosen by an organization would be dependent on the size of the organization, existing maturity of the global-to-local process, cohesiveness of various local entities, and ultimately on the vision of the global organizations and the investments they are willing to make.
Downstream targets: Leveraging conventional approaches
Most life sciences organizations that create global content have mechanisms in place to have the content reviewed by local MLR teams. The process fails when global teams attempt to receive feedback from MLR teams of all affiliates. The outcome of such an exercise is either global teams receive multiple contradicting feedback from various markets or they do not receive any feedback from key markets. The latter happens when global teams are unable to implement the feedback and key markets no longer see any value in the exercise
This vicious cycle can be broken with help of simple, yet impactful changes. One of the most effective ways of managing feedback from affiliate MLR teams would be having the global content reviewed by five to seven dominant markets. Feedback from a handful of markets that have a larger customer base, stricter regulations, and a sophisticated competitor profile could take longer time to address but is certainly easier to manage. Life sciences organizations that have implemented this model have witnessed an increased utilization of content across the globe with minimal investments.
Another simple solution would be increasing effectiveness of global MLR teams through capacity augmentation to ensure timely delivery of highly compliant content. The availability of operations support teams to manage material creation and review as well as affiliate feedback processes also enhances efficiency of global teams.
Midstream targets: Targeting regional COEs and language clusters
Some life sciences companies have more developed models for managing global-to-local processes. One of these includes identification of language clusters and creation of material templates with sections aligned to market regulatory requirements and placeholders for standard disclaimers and scientific or promotional content. Language clusters also help in consolidating translation efforts, especially for dominant languages. For example, global content translated into German can be quickly localized by multiple German-speaking markets.
The second methodology used at this level is the co-creation of content by various markets in regional clusters. The co-creation exercise is generally performed two to three times a year and in most often cases, teams with a regional mandate takes the lead in collating feedback from the dominant markets. This approach is very effective in markets having robust regional regulations and products with similar marketing approvals across markets. Mid-stream strategies are quite successful in organizations with well-structured regional teams.
Upstream targets: Transformational strategies
These approaches are truly ground-breaking endeavors and as of now, only a few life sciences companies are piloting them and none to few have implemented them. However, with advent of generative AI, there is a potential for accelerating the development of highly sophisticated systems, which will impact all stages of a drug or device life cycle. Let alone communication strategies, organizations can prepare for a future where clinical research itself will be expedited and outcomes data and messages will be made available to communications teams at a much faster pace.
The holy grail
Can the global teams attempt to decode the single source of truth simultaneously at global and local levels? Or, in simple words, can global content be created in such a way that it considers global label and various local labels? Moreover, can another complexity of alignment to various local regulatory nuances be added for consideration? This seems humongous but can definitely be attempted. In one of the label comparison exercises conducted for a large pharmaceutical company, an analysis was done on indications and pivotal clinical trials included in the label for key markets across the globe–the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, Australia, and India. While the US, Canada, and India labels included both hematological and immunological indications, the others had either of the two indications. The details about pivotal clinical trials were readily available in two of the labels, whereas the others had high level information and one of them included regional clinical trial data.3 A close collaboration between labeling, medical, regulatory, marketing and compliance teams across various markets can help understand local marketing authorizations and regulatory nuances. The trick will again be to focus on dominant markets and not attempt to boil the ocean.
Content building blocks
One of the recent surveys of US HCPs found that more than 25% of physicians want less in-person interaction as compared with digital ones.1 In another analysis it was found that HCPs who provided higher rating for a brand’s customer experience had better perception for the brand and were more likely to engage with it.4 It is a known fact that customer experience is directly related to the availability of accurate, relevant, high-quality content to HCPs. Life sciences organizations are seriously exploring ways to handle content explosion resulting from hyper personalization and omnichannel dissemination. Modular content is one of the strategies that is being piloted or implemented by most companies. However, only a handful of them have included global to local as a concept in their strategy. Creation of content units at a global level, with variations specified for use at specific affiliate levels should be an approach taken by teams designing the framework at a global level. Local teams could then weave in nuances related to mandatory versus optional components, channel guidelines, and business rules in the framework. Of course, technology integration will be the key to the success of such a transformational endeavor.
Advanced metatags for powerful insights
HCP behaviors can only be truly understood through powerful analytics. The analytics should not only provide insights into overall brand positioning, but also capture individual HCP’s preference related to brand awareness and clinical decision-making. Mechanisms to tag global content units in a way that help track their use in different communication strategies and among various customer segments can generate highly impactful insights for various organizations. Generative AI models can be leveraged and trained on these large data sets, allowing medical and commercial teams to derive quick insights into market and customer preferences through simple prompts. A sophisticated platform that combines the power of a content authoring system and ensures tracking of generated content. In addition, its re-use in various markets should be the vision for highly advanced and top life sciences companies. Platforms that promote collaboration between global and affiliate teams as well as enhance interactions across local markets will help in increasing adoption of content at multiple levels.
Conclusion
Global changes in demographic and social trends, including increased average life expectancy and a premium being placed on health equity, have ramifications at all levels. Life sciences organizations would require higher specialized workforce, research organizations would need innovative treatments for lifestyle and oncological disorders, and governments would have to revisit their annual healthcare expenditures. However, more would need to be done with fewer resources.
Communication strategies would have to continually evolve to meet the demands of the future. Systematic reuse and repurposing of global materials in local markets will not only enable local teams to work within their budgetary constraints but would also help them focus on other endeavors such as partnering with HCPs in research, education, and clinical decision-making that would ultimately help improve patient outcome results.

References

1.
McKinsey | A vision for medical affairs 2030: Five priorities for patient impact https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/life-sciences/our-insights/a-vision-for-medical-affairs-2030-five-priorities-for-patient-impact
2.
Results from a primary survey conducted for a mid-sized pharma. (The company name cannot be published here due to client confidentiality clause).
3.
Results from a label comparison exercise. (The company name cannot be published here due to client confidentiality clause).
4.
Indegene | Automated Modular Content can personalize customer experience at scale https://www.indegene.com/what-we-think/reports/automated-modular-content-can-personalize-customer-experience-scale

Authors

Dr. Vashita Dixit
Dr. Vashita Dixit
Dr. Chandrima Pal
Dr. Chandrima Pal