• What does medical information mean in the pharmaceutical industry in European countries?
  • How do regional departments compare with national units?
  • What keeps medical information managers awake at night – their issues or challenges?
  • What are the success stories that we can share?
  • What shape will Medical Information be in 5 years time?

All these questions and fifteen more were answered by a survey Janet Davies from Gilead and I ran over July and August 2008. We had responses from 174 people from 29 European countries plus the US. Today in Ljubljana, we presented the information at the opening session of the Medical Information & Communications track at the DIA Clinical Forum.

The survey would not have been possible without the generosity of spirit that we come to expect from the medical information community. We love to share best practice and connect with our colleagues in other European countries. We also had tremendous support from PIPA as we used their survey software subscription.

Over 67 people crowded into a very hot room to find compare their own situation with other colleagues. “You are not alone” was the key message. Many managers are concerned to demonstrate their value to their company. They are facing downsizing on one side, yet expanding product portfolios on the other side. How do they do more with less?

Copyright was still a headache for medical information folk. It’a all about managing expectations. Here’s a sample quote

Gap between publishers’ expectation of copyright and customers demand for document delivery

Regional departments face some different issues to national units. Maintaining visibility and support from senior management is essential to keep medical information in their minds as essential to the business.

Challenges seen in predominantly national units include *quality maintenance

  • auditing services
  • supporting mature products

*lack of an IT infrastructure to share information regionally
The trend is for increasing impact of regionalisation and globalisation of services and organisations. Companies are demanding economies of scale and convergence. But we must ensure we keep a local flavour to our services. An active topic of debate is maintaining the diversity of language across our region. The winner will be the company that can balance regional and national demands.

The fuller report gives many more facts & figures on team sizes, reporting lines, department names, training needs and routes by which they receive enquiries.

There is such a wealth of data from the survey that I’m sure Janet & I will be analysing the data from now until Christmas 08!
I’ll be blogging on some of the results over the next 2 months.

Just some of the “take home” messages that I think comes from the survey are

  • The future can be bright if we grasp at those opportunities
  • We must demonstrate our value to our organisations in language that senior managers understand
  • We face an increasingly regulated environment
  • We must continue to exploit electronic communication channels to provide information proactively in a compliant manner
  • We’re writing up the material for the Drug Information Journal next year, as well as in Pipeline, the PIPA newsletter.