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The role of medcomms in healthcare studies

A look at the importance of medical communications, and our recommended tactics to consider.

By Tara Roe-Gammon, Scientific Programme Director at SWM Partners

Medical communications are an essential part of clinical trials.

From a healthcare professional perspective, they provide sites and individuals with the information they require to recruit and treat participants accurately and ethically.

Patient-focused materials are equally important, as they ensure all those taking part are aware of elements such as the nature of the study and product, what is required of them, and potential side effects.

With this in mind, below are some of the key medical communications to keep in mind across your healthcare studies.

Creating a cohesive identity

The first element to consider, is the look and feel of the study itself, as this will then inform all communications, and will result in the creation of a cohesive suite of medical communications for all involved.

The brand identity development process will ideally encompass wordmarks and colour palettes, and include visual cues that reflect its name, core focus and/or therapy area. This might be an eye illustration for ophthalmology, or a heart shaped design for cardiology, for example.

Engaging through meetings

In-person, virtual and hybrid meetings are an effective way to not only communicate study information and updates to patients and healthcare professionals, but provide them with the opportunity to ask questions and engage with their colleagues and peers.

Presentations delivered by key opinion leaders (KOLs) and patients, supported by bespoke branded slides – which our team creates and formats up until the day of the event – will ensure messages are communicated clearly. Meanwhile, allowing time for Q&As both physically and via branded virtual platforms ensures delegates have the opportunity to raise any queries or concerns.

Curating animated videos

Medical animations and videos are an effective way to distil complex study related data into information that can be understood by all, and this is especially important to consider if the trial is global, and for a patient-focused audience.

They can be used to demonstrate a procedure or administering process, break down the composition of a product, or outline the different steps involved in the trial, among others.

Given the complex nature of study protocols, we always recommend seeking the support of qualified pharmacists and scientists here, to ensure accuracy in the messages that are shared.

Continuing the education across sites

There are various types of clinical reference materials that can be developed and distributed to hospitals, practices and clinics for use by healthcare professionals across various stages of a clinical trial. They include mini study protocols, and clinical trial recruitment and retention tools, such as posters and leaflets that they can look to when talking potential patients through a study.

Based on our work with hospital consultants and principal study investigators, providing them with scientific-based facts and figures, as well as visual references is essential, as this enables them to access the information they need both easily and efficiently.

Developing tailored patient communications

Patients and healthcare professionals are two very different audiences, and as such we lean on our experience of working in patient-facing environments such as hospitals and pharmacies to adapt our writing style when developing materials for study participants.

This may involve removing scientific language or medical related jargon, and adopting a sensitive and considered tone of voice. We will utilise the visual identity of the study brand, while also incorporating brighter colours across elements such as images – which are carefully selected so that they reflect factors such as patients’ age, cultural background and gender, and incorporate educational visuals.

Patient communication examples include study summaries, informed consent guides, animations and videos, side effect guides, and leaflets and flyers, which are made available in digital and physical formats.

Translating for added resonance

In addition to evolving the style of written content, it’s important to translate this copy into different languages. This is relevant for not only global trials, but those that involve healthcare professionals and patients where English is not their first language.

Careful consideration should also be made from a design perspective, in terms of image selections, and the use of particular symbols and icons, among others.

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