One voiceMaking the Perfect Global Medical Information Function

You’ll love this recipe for building the successful Global Medical Information function.

All variations of the recipe have been tried & tested by many companies.

We all seem to come back to the same ideal variation – centralisation with collaboration with affiliates. If you need to provide for big appetites, you’ll need to add in a few hubs to give you cultural and regional flavours.

Preparation Time – 6 months


Cooking Time – 1 year (but some cooks find it takes 3 years)



  • Single MI system
  • Systematic & tight control of scientific content
  • A consistent approach, probably limiting language variations and no local customisation beyond labelling variations
  • Quality Assurance programme


Tools & Resources

  • Inspirational Medical Information (MI) leader (to supply vision and drive when the going is tough)
  • Talented MI Team. Must have positive attitude, proactive behaviours, strong critical thinking & problem solving skills, biomedical qualifications and innate drive to deliver great customer service.
  • Senior Management who support and empower you to get on with the job
  • Engaged Stakeholders
  • Phased budget


Oven Temperature

A medium oven works best but requires a longer cooking time. Most senior managers can’t wait so most of us use a hot oven (near furnace at times)


Nutrition Labelling

  • High protein to satisfy customer appetite
  • Medium carbohydrate load to sustain energy through product lifecycle
  • Low on fat to reduce atherosclerotic flow of information
  • Provides all the essential minerals & vitamins for a healthy organisation.




You need to plan this recipe in advance – finding the right person/people to lead the team is essential. You’ll also need to prepare the organisation for change. A firm hand and clear vision (make sure you haven’t forgotten to add the benefits) works wonders.


Take first the systematic content management process. If you’re lucky to have a global team in place, this is the best source. But you’ll need the other half of the ingredient – affiliates. Will you collaborate with them? Or are they purely customers?


Second is the consistent approach. Make sure you’ve thought through the cultural and language variations required. We can’t provide all languages so go for the most common. Future proof your design. China will be the 2nd largest market very soon – do you translate into Mandarin? You’ll find it best to offer translation on demand rather than translating all content in all languages. The latter approach is too expensive and not necessary.


Now is the time to add the 3rd ingredient, the single Global MI system. If you add this ingredient too early, the whole recipe will curdle. You’ll have to throw it all away and start from scratch. By the time you realise this, you’ve probably wasted 6-12 months. Make sure the system has the right interfaces (for quick and easy data input, ideal for non-MI dedicated staff like MSLs or Medical Advisors) and tools.


Work with your tools and resources (aka staff) to pull these three ingredients together. The best technique is to knead the ingredients together hard (like making bread dough), then pausing to let the mixture relax and assimilate.


recipe 2The essential fourth ingredient, quality assurance. As this is a complex recipe that can easily go off track, you need to work out the best way to test and taste the results.



You can taste your dish during the cooking, like making sure your database will collect the right metrics, that your metrics mean something and give you insights on the value of your service to customers and stakeholders.


But it’s also essential to taste your dish after cooking. You can ask your guests, of course, but that’s a risky strategy to rely on alone! Other quality assurance programmes include training and competency checks of your chefs, mystery diner, setting standards that you monitor and giving feedback to your chefs.


Factor in the possibility of a visit from the infamous restaurant inspectors! Audit will help you there – but that’s a topic for a separate blog post……


Once you’ve put in the hard work to make your recipe a great success, briefly celebrate creating such a fine dish because now you’ll be ready for haute cuisine!


Idea for blog post stimulated by the presentations in the Globalisation sessions of the DIA Medical Information & Communications track of the Clinical Forum conference, Basel 2011. Thanks to Sian Slade, BMS; Britta Bohm & Andy Williams, GSK; Sophia Andeh, Genzyme, Pauline Frank & Peter Geiser, Novartis and all my lovely clients who always inspire me – you know who are are ;0)