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Perspectives

Digital Promotional Content in Life Sciences: Don’t Forget the Audit

2015-09-01


Most promotional content in the life sciences industry is now digital and can be found on diverse channels, including branded Web sites, technology platforms and medical communications forums, to name a few. Thanks to the relative ease of digital publishing, content related to brands and disease states can easily be tweaked to target different audience segments, translated into multiple languages and disseminated throughout the world.

Most promotional content in the life sciences industry is now digital and can be found on diverse channels, including branded Web sites, technology platforms and medical communications forums, to name a few. Thanks to the relative ease of digital publishing, content related to brands and disease states can easily be tweaked to target different audience segments, translated into multiple languages and disseminated throughout the world.


But there's a downside to the ease of publishing digital content: compliance risk. The proliferation of digital content creates a variety of tracking challenges. The chances for error only increase when multiple agencies are involved in developing and publishing content. In some cases, brand leads or compliance specialists may not even be aware of all the channels that contain promotional content.

Typical issues with digital content include:

  • Inconsistent warnings on brand Web sites.

  • Incorrect references to prescribing information.

  • Unapproved content accessible without passwords on sites containing content still in development.

  • Out-of-date materials.

  • Difficulty identifying the current version of information.

  • Minimal tracking of digital materials.

  • Inconsistent customer experience across all sites.

  • Poor site functionality.

  • Inconsistent experience across technology platforms.

In short, many life sciences companies have been unsuccessful in adhering to their own standard operating procedures to ensure digital content compliance. Given the hefty fines that can be levied for noncompliance, as well as the risk to a brand and/or company reputation through inconsistent brand messaging, this can be a costly oversight.

Digital content auditing helps ensure that published content and publishing processes remain in compliance with an organization's medical, regulatory and legal (MRL) requirements. An audit is a critical step in discovering, understanding and mitigating risk.

The Scope of the Digital Content Audit

To be effective, an audit must cover all of a life sciences company's promotional digital sites and content, including already published materials and those in development. A complete audit will assess key functions and activities in four areas: digital functionality, materials management, IT internal controls and process.

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Figure 1

Industry Norms for Brand Promotional Content

The goal of an audit is to ensure that publically accessible content is compliant, accurate and consistent and that all Web sites featuring brand promotional content are operating as intended. An audit should benchmark the business against the following industry norms:

  • Web sites operate as expected and offer a meaningful, consistent user experience across platforms.

  • Internal controls and training are in place to prevent access to content under development.

  • Information is consistent across brand‑owned digital assets.

  • Websites are updated within 10 days for important changes.

  • robust content management strategy is in place to track materials.

The Business Benefits of Digital Content Audits

Ensuring the accuracy and consistency of content across channels is a fundamental piece of digital promotions and not a place to compromise. Audits can help companies develop and follow reliable policies and procedures that achieve these goals while improving compliance and even streamlining content management and development.

Getting Started

To create an audit capability for digital promotional content, organizations can follow these steps:

  • Preparation. Establish a project governance team, define preferred communications channels, identify key stakeholders and refine roles and responsibilities.

  • Kick-off. Identify a project sponsor, schedule stakeholder discussions, begin reviewing all published digital content and capturing all current documents and refine plan and timelines as needed.

  • Stakeholder interview/content assessment/SOP review. Review current standard operating procedures for digital content and compliance, meet and summarize stakeholder findings, define the scope of existing digital content production and publishing risks across all brands and develop a status report on the potential scope of risks.

  • Complete assessments/draft summary. Complete a draft analysis of the current as‑is assessment, reconvene stakeholders for refinement, provide sponsors with a summary of the draft analysis and future needs and schedule a feedback session with the sponsor.

  • Finalize delivery and presentation. Refine final deliverables based on sponsor feedback and conduct internal finding meetings, in conjunction with the sponsor.

With more digital content being generated every day, the time is now for the life sciences industry to apply the same controls and rigor to this environment as it does the traditional world of print. Doing so will help ensure full compliance, avoid costs, ensure brand reputation and fortify the future of the business.

Learn more about this topic by reading the full white paper, Audit: When it Comes to Digital Promotional Content, Does the Life Sciences Industry Know What It's Missing? Or visit our Life Sciences Practice.

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Digital Promotional Content in Life Sciences: Don’t Forget the Audit