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Medical Communications (MedComms) agencies have their roots in medical education, and most often produce materials – whether for digital, online or offline channels – such as slide kits, posters, publications and abstracts, and other items aimed at informing healthcare professionals about both the risks and benefits of new therapies to treat disease. However, they also provide services across the entire educational spectrum including medical writing, advisory board support, investigator and internal medical department training, and more.

Choosing an agency to handle your medical communications isn’t an easy task. It’s important, of course, to look for an experienced company with a proven track record in all of the countries in which you want to do business. But more importantly, you should look for an agency that’s prepared to partner with you, one that will take the time to fully understand your needs and help you formulate and carry out all of your strategic objectives.

Robin Kerbel, CEO of Six Degrees Medical Consulting, comments, “In today’s agency world, many medical and pharmaceutical communications players focus only on the tactical execution of the client’s program. By partnering with an agency with a strong strategic consulting background, organizations can benefit from a long-term relationship that will positively impact the overall project. The drug development process is not a short one. Having an agency by your side for the long haul can definitely make a difference.”

There are many factors to consider when choosing a medical and pharma communications partner. Here are six things to look for that will help you get the most out of your agency experience and the highest return on your investment.

1. A Depth and Breadth of Experience

Working with an experienced agency will make your job much simpler. They will bring with them a deep understanding of the pharma industry and best practice communications guidelines, and will have the breadth of skills and expertise to help you achieve your goals.

To effectively engage today’s audiences, choose a medcomms agency with a firm grasp of both the fundamentals – the long-standing, traditional communication techniques – as well as all the latest tactics and technologies. An experienced agency will also be able to provide you with the most appropriate team from their talent pool to support your particular medical writing, educational and communications goals.

2. A Well-Defined Initiation Process

Work with a team that has a well-defined initiation process to ensure every one of your projects is focused on and tracking to achieve your goals. For example, at Six Degrees Medical, we begin with a formal project kick-off meeting to understand and develop programme objectives, key messages, roles and responsibilities. We then take that information back to our team for internal brainstorming sessions to develop unique and creative themes, formats and ideas to meet your objectives. To ensure the success of your project, make sure you work with an agency that is committed to closely collaborating with you throughout the initiation process and fully understands your requirements.

3. A Comprehensive Project Management Process

Once your project is initiated, it’s important that your agency gives you an action plan that defines the project management process. We created our own Project Management framework, called OurPM™. OurPM™ is a project roadmap that ensures coordination between our team, the clients and any external partners on all timelines, deliverables and responsibilities. We also have a rigorous quality control process, which includes legal and senior team reviews.

4. Employee Longevity

This is one point you may not have considered, but there is a trend in the medcomms and pharma industry for employees to move around quite a bit; a project may begin with one team and end up with several new team members halfway through. This can interrupt workflow and negatively affect work quality. Look for an experienced agency that has the capability and maturity to keep your projects moving forward no matter what changes occur in your staffing, ensuring consistency and quality of work, and that important goals and deadlines are being met.

5. Cultural Sensitivity and Regulatory Awareness

You also want to work with an agency that’s sensitive to cultural differences as well as the different regulatory requirements in other countries, like the Sunshine Act in the US. It’s important to choose a medcomms agency that has experience working with countries around the globe and understands the regulations in different jurisdictions. When your agency understands the relevant regulatory restrictions, they can ensure that everything that they do, from medical writing to meeting planning or training remains compliant.

6. A Collaborative, Partnership Approach

We go beyond the work of a traditional medcomms and pharma communications agency. You want to work with an agency that acts as your partner and truly cares about delivering its best work – on budget and according to your timelines – to fulfil your business objectives. This is how we work at Six Degrees Medical. Kerbel comments, “From project initiation to brainstorming to content development, we employ six proven processes to fully adapt to our clients’ needs and deliver measurable results. We’re seen as more than just vendors, but as lasting partners invested in our clients’ success, many of whom have been with us since we opened our doors, 15 years ago.”

“We bring staffing consistency and quality expertise to every project, with employees who love their jobs and a leadership team that has been with us for 8-14+ years.”, Kerbel adds.

Whether you’re looking for effective solutions to transition F2F meetings to a virtual or online environment, support with clinical trials, medical advisory boards, symposia, key opinion leader (KOL) management, internal medical training, medical writing, speaker training programs and more, SDM’s collaborative approach produces consistently superior results and lasting relationships. SDM also offers strategic consulting services and can help you navigate the regulatory restrictions in other jurisdictions, having worked in over 35 countries around the world in over 40 therapeutic areas. Discover why over 95% of clients are “Extremely Satisfied” with SDM and over 90% say the agency deliver “Much more than expected”.

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