Saturday, October 27, 2007

#20: Let’s talk about detail aid

When compared with an event highlight bulletin or patient education brochure, the number of words in a detail aid is much, much fewer. However, the work involved is not. And many times you may need to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite.

What is a detail aid?
Detail aid is a marketing tool containing promotional messages incorporated with creative elements. It is a sales aid that pharmaceutical sales representatives used to engage doctors in a dialog about a drug. The detail aid can be in a print form (eg, booklet, flip chart) or an electronic document (eg, PDF file, on the web).

The detail aid contains information about a particular product, including clinical data supporting the product’s efficacy and safety, charts and graphs illustrating those clinical data, and also possibly guidelines on dosing and administration of the drug.

Nature and style of a detail aid
Simply put, detail aid is all about promotion. Clients would like to see their product look good in a detail aid – the product must appear at least as good as, if not better than, the competitor’s product, either in terms of efficacy, safety, tolerability or any other factors of relevant significance.

While a detail aid can be produced to introduce a new drug or new treatment concept, it may also serve as a reminder of an existing drug, to provide latest clinical data, or to address specific concerns and issues regarding the use of the drug.

Sometimes clients may just want to focus the whole detail aid on a particular clinical paper by highlighting the positive results reported on their product.

If you have one detail aid sample in front of you, you will probably notice these few characteristics of a detail aid:

- The sentences inside are mostly short.
- Promotional language is maximized.
- Every statement is substantiated with good references.
- Design is creative and eye-catching.

So how do you get started on a detail aid? Well, find out in my next post! :)


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

#19: Newsletter - How to go about it?

The process of developing a newsletter is basically the same as any other projects – writing, editing, obtaining approval on text, designing, and getting final approval from client.

The only difference is that you have more preparation work to do.

Get a good briefing from the client
Ask questions like – How many issues (bimonthly or quarterly)? How many pages? What kind of format (eg, 6 short articles or 3 long articles)? Is there an ad placement?
* Collect relevant materials for background study or to be incorporated into the newsletter.

Plan your work
Based on the frequency of issues and number of pages per issue, estimate the amount of time you need to work with and generate a working timeline.

Source for content
The materials provided by your client are probably not sufficient to fill up the newsletter. You need to do additional research and gather all necessary information and data for its content. Try online resources.

Presentation format
Depending on the nature of the newsletter, it can be, for example:
* Simply showing a number of clinical abstracts.
* Featuring medium-to-long articles, which are in fact a re-write of shorter articles or abstracts put together.
* A combination of an interview with a medical expert, plus some clinical updates (abstracts, conference reports, etc) for some variety.

Lastly, don’t forget to give the newsletter a title!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

#18: Why newsletter?

The target audience of newsletters is usually the healthcare professionals – primary care doctors, medical specialists, pharmacists and nurses.

Briefly, the objectives of having a newsletter are mainly:

To provide updates on a specific health area, drug development or clinical studies
Example: A nutritional company may want to use data from recent clinical studies to emphasize the benefits of certain nutrients in supporting a child’s brain development.

To disseminate disease management knowledge, perhaps based on interviews with key opinion leaders
Example: Knowing how ophthalmologists treat their patients with different ophthalmic conditions indirectly helps to promote particular ophthalmic products.

To introduce a new drug, or simply remind of the existence of a long-existing product (or several products).
Example: A new antihypertensive drug has been launched, so the medical professionals need to read more about the new drug to understand its efficacy, benefits, side effects, etc.

Up next - How to go about a newsletter project.


Monday, October 1, 2007

#17: What are the available online resources?

When dealing with medical writing, either targeting the medical professionals or the lay public, you will need technical support for your writing. When I say technical support, I mean resources or information that you will use for:

· A background research of the topic you are writing (eg, bipolar disorder)
· Finding patient information (eg, for a brochure about heart attack)
· Verifying data or supporting a claim
· Locating a particular clinical paper
· Finding suitable references
· Others

Besides printed publication, such as medical textbooks, journals and dictionaries, the internet is another important source of medical and health sciences information. Depending on what kind of information you are looking for, there a plethora of web sites for you to search from.

For most of my work, I use PubMed very frequently to locate references and verify data presented by speakers. The journal database lets you look up journal names, the citation matcher allows you to verify a single or multiple citations.

PubMed is a service of the US National Library of Medicine that includes over 17 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals. Resources included in this database are such as abstracts and full-text publications (for certain journals and after a certain period after publication).

MedlinePlus is another service from the US National Library of Medicine. The medical information it provides is more consumer oriented. Here, you can read about 740 health topics and current health news, learn about drugs and supplements, or look up information with their medical encyclopedia and dictionary. This is a suitable online resource when you need to develop a patient-oriented publication.

eMedicine – provides peer-reviewed articles for healthcare professionals. A good read if you need to get an overall understanding of a particular disease, including it pathophysiology, complications and treatment.
· Medscape – offers free CME articles, medical news, full-text journal articles. You need to sign up as a member to access the articles. Registration is free.

The above mentioned are only a few that I’ve used before. There are still many more out there. If you know of any that is useful, please let me know! :)


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