We’ve recently returned from sunny San Diego, where we attended DIA 2019, the annual meeting of the Drug Information Association. As always, we learned a lot during our time away, both from the presentations and, just as importantly, from our conversations with customers and potential customers. We had a steady stream of traffic at our booth, and we heard a lot of buzz—the loudest of which was all about efficiency.
Medical Writers Are Looking for Efficient Solutions…
Over and over, we talked with medical writing teams that were looking for ways to crank out more documents quickly and efficiently. They all wanted to know how they could write, review, and submit their documents faster—without sacrificing quality. We heard about a variety of different workflows and technological solutions that companies are experimenting with in an effort to be more efficient.
But, of course, speed isn’t everything. Medical research documents still need to be accurate, complete, and consistent. To that end, teams are looking for ways to leverage their existing document library, creating templates that can serve as starting points for faster and cleaner document generation without wasting time on rewriting. Naturally, organizations seeking to support their writers are turning to technology that augments and complements their work, speeding up their time to finished documents without requiring longer hours or more staff.
and Technology Is Answering the Call
Technology can absolutely help improve efficiency—so long as we design for it. That requires an awareness of human behavior and a willingness to step outside the box to compensate for our weaknesses.
For example, we spoke with a number of regulatory reviewers who were looking for ways to complete their document reviews faster. We know, from eye-tracking studies done by the Nielsen Norman Group, that people viewing webpages spend 80 percent of their time looking at the left side of the screen. Thanks to our left-to-right reading pattern, even the best reviewers risk having gaps in their process. Document review technology, then, should be designed to minimize or remediate that risk, perhaps by shifting text toward the left side of the screen. After all, it’s easier to change how we design technology and how we display documents for review than it is to change human nature!
Another big area of focus was on drawing in information from historical examples stored in content libraries. This circumvents the limits of medical writers’ individual memories, replacing them with automated search functions and thereby freeing up writers’ time and attention to focus more on their critical work: writing up new results.