Catching up on the state of publications at ISMPP West 2019

Oxford PharmaGenesis was delighted to attend the West Meeting of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), which took place on 14 and 15 November 2019 in San Diego, CA, USA.

The first day kicked off with several pre-session workshops on various topics, including new developments in and challenges with building a publication plan, current practices and future directions for publication planning, and ethical challenges in publication practices. The day ended with a reception for attendees at the Jsix restaurant adjacent to the Kimpton Solamar Hotel.

Day 2 started with breakfast and an opportunity for attendees to meet the exhibitors, and continued with discussion sessions. The first session, which pertained to the importance of developing publications with a patient audience in mind, was presented by Steven Rizk of Roche and Margaret Gordon of Envision Pharma Group, and discussed the value of plain-language summaries in helping patients understand clinical research and how to implement them into published works. A particularly memorable takeaway from this session was that patients with a rare condition and their caregivers often need to rely on clinical studies to learn about disease progression and treatment options because information from other sources is sparse. Making sure that information derived from clinical research is understandable to non-specialist audiences is therefore essential for managing rare diseases.

Sara Radcliffe of Bayamet LLC then gave a keynote address covering the scope and advances of life science companies based in California over the past several years. A fascinating insight was the extraordinary strength of California’s economy. As of last year, the state’s gross domestic product was superior to that of almost any other country in the world – behind only the USA as a whole, China, Japan and Germany.

The papers in second discussion section were presented by Tim Mackey of the University of California at San Diego, Ken Truman of MedThink and Richard Ashdown of McCann Health Medical Communications, and focused on the potential usefulness of digital blockchain technology and artificial intelligence for improving the quality of research and publications. Specifically, it was discussed how blockchain, a cryptocurrency tracking process, could be utilized to track manuscript submission history. The talks also covered how machine-learning algorithms could organize large bodies of literature and identify what components of a poster are most eye catching to viewers.

Following lunch, attendees were given updates on the landscape of publications – particular mention was made to the Sunshine Act, the California Consumer Privacy Act and Health Canada’s clinical information portal. Attendees were then invited to round-table discussions on various topics, including the importance of open access in spreading clinical information, the use of social media as a tool for publishing scientific findings and the methods through which plain-language summaries can be incorporated into publication planning.

The third discussion session was presented by Brian Falcone, Executive Vice President of Oxford PharmaGenesis Philadelphia, Larry Kovalick of Amgen, Alexandra Traut of Allergan and Cindy Tse of Ultragenyx. This discussion entailed how publication coordination relies on many groups, including the publications, medical affairs, medical information and medical science liaison teams. Particular emphasis was placed on the importance of maintaining effective and efficient communication among all groups. A notable takeaway was that focusing on two of the three traits of the ‘iron triangle’, a model illustrating the difficulty to maintain the traits of speed, low cost and high quality when creating deliverables, will often compromise the third. Effective, efficient and succinct communication of the most important information between parties can help manage these challenges.

The event closed with an address from ISMPP President and CEO Robert Matheis. The accomplishments of ISMPP in its 15-year history were highlighted, as well as the bright future for the medical publication profession.

Attending ISMPP West was an enriching and informative experience for both novice and experienced medical publication professionals. The meeting offered a plethora of opportunities to learn about the current status of the profession and the future direction of the medical publication practice.