With Strict Compliance, Can There be Flexibility in Pharma Presentations?

Chances are you just read that headline and thought to yourself, “No. There is no flexibility in our presentations!” Pharma is a highly regulated industry and we maintain incredibly tight controls, to the detail (it’s called a “detail” for a reason) of what pharma reps and medical science liaisons (MSLs) can and cannot say to various healthcare providers.

The job of the MSL, and even the sales rep for that matter, is to inform and educate HCPs about the drug: Its efficacy, safety, administration, indications, clinical trial results, disease state, etc. There are myriad sub-topics on any given drug, the possibilities are endless. And therefore, the possible questions that HCPs might have pertaining to that drug are also endless. Yet, with FDA regulations, pharma companies have typically given presentations with a pre-determined set of slides, in a set order. “Stick to the script.” No flexibility, no going off topic, even if an HCP had a legitimate, relevant question—they are handcuffed!

But a presentation management strategy can unlock the handcuffs that bind MSLs and reps all while maintaining the rule of law so that pharma companies avoid costly fines and lawsuits. It does so through a combination of controls and technology that empowers someone in the field to talk fluently and confidently about your brands and drugs while still maintaining compliance.

The Elements of Presentation Management

Presentations management gives your MSLs and reps more flexibility in the field yet still maintains presentation compliance, and it is made up of a few basic elements:

Slide Library: A slide library, where all presentation files, not just PowerPoint but also videos, PDFs, and images, are visual and formatted to present. Essentially, every file is a slide that is presentation ready—ready to show on-demand.

Search: The slide library should have a contextual search function where slides (and files because files are now slides) are searchable—not just file names and tags, but text and data within the slide itself. That way, a user in the field can actually find that one perfect slide they are looking for, quickly and easily.

Linked Slides: Linked slides are critical for compliance because they ensure that when you take one slide, the required slides follow. So when a MSL discussed the benefits of a drug, the side-effects slides are always included, or if someone presents the results for a Phase III trial, the methodology is included. Linked slides ensure full disclosure—disclosure that is usually required by the FDA. Linked slides are also good for branding—making sure your reps are using the right message and language when representing the brand.

Controlled Permissions: Now that you have the foundation of a compliant message that’s easy to source, use, and re-use, permissions direct the right content to the proper recipients. MSLs can talk off brand for educational purposes, whereas sales reps must promote the brand. Or contracted speakers with MDs can talk to certain aspects of treating a disease with your drug, but nurses with RNs are not accredited. Permissions lets you direct the right content to the right people.

Centralized Slide Updates: When you update one master slide, it distributes to any presentation that has used that same slide. It’s like a parent-child relationship. The parent slide is the slide that MSLs re-use in their own presentation. When a content administrator updates a parent slide, all of its child slides that have been used over and over again in different MSL presentations, will get updated as well.

Re-use of Content: A searchable, visual slide library with controls, will empower your sales reps and MSLs to easily re-use content, and repurpose it for a specific meeting quickly, knowing that they are still compliant.

The ability to efficiently re-use content is a critical tenant in presentation management. When you set up a slide library that is searchable, where all files are formatted to present, that has locks and controls to direct the right message to the right people, your MSLs and reps conduct personalized meetings with HCPs that are more productive and informative. Presentation management lets MSLs, sales reps, and any pharma professional have a real conversation, instead of reading and receiving a rote script. The ability to share knowledge and information that is compliance-approved and more tailored to the specific HCP will make the HCP more effective when prescribing a drug to treat a patient, your ultimate customer. And that in turn, will positively affect the business.

  • AlexAnndra Ontra

    AlexAnndra Ontra is the Co-Founder and President of Shufflrr, where she advises with clients to help establish an efficient presentation management strategy within their organization. AlexAnndra has empowered hundreds of Fortune-level companies to transform basic PowerPoint slides into vital business assets. After spending the last 20 years helping clients get the most out of their presentations, Alex was inspired to write "Presentation Management: The New Strategy for Enterprise Content," a book she wrote with her brother, James Ontra, Shufflrr’s Co-Founder and CEO.


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