GAP Analysis: Fill the Gaps in the Publication Planning

“You become excellent when you fly at a level that creates a wide gap between where you were before and where you are now. Fly like the eagle; the eagle flies as if it never remembered it was once an egg!” Israelmore Ayivor

To improve the publication planning decisions, SWOT analysis can be accompanied by Gap analysis. Gap analysis is an essential part of the publication planning process of a drug, disease, medical procedure, and medical device in the pharmaceutical company. A significant gap in healthcare practice can cause providers to make wrong evaluation of patients’ conditions. This results in poor clinical outcomes. Gap analysis achieves the task of filling this lacunae by evaluating detailed information about a specific drug product that is available in the literature (e.g., medical journals, scientific congresses), format in which it is presented (e.g., presentation, poster, abstract, primary or review articles, case report, case series etc.), type of target audience (s) it is reaching (e.g., physicians, pharmacists, nurses), and/or the timing of that information flow in order to expose knowledge gaps and key topic point coverage.

The important steps for conducting a Gap analysis include:

1)  identification of the area(s) of interest/rationale

2)  defining a meaningful timeline for analysis: historical, current, or milestone snapshot

3)  evaluating the scope of research

4)  determining search parameters

5)  choosing a format for output,

6)  conducting the search, and

7)  organizing and prioritizing findings to identify trends regarding the topic question

Thoroughly following these steps provides knowledge about gaps in the current literature which can be presented with targeted publications as an important part of the medical publication plan. A Gap analysis should be completed every 12-24 months to evaluate if any new informational gaps exist. A Gap analysis may be conducted several times throughout the life cycle of a drug product. It evaluates, whether we are reaching the correct people, in a timely manner, with the information they need. If the people are not getting the information at right time then there is a big gap in our strategies to communicate that information. In that case, we need to revisit our strategy and update our publication plan.

Methods of Gap analysis:

  1. External Gap Analysis: The external gap analysis is used to identify informational or data gaps in existing published literature. It may provide some additional insight to the unanswered questions regarding a drug product, therapeutic use and the disease state. It also helps in a comparative analysis with competitors to determine gaps between the products. Other gaps may be due to an inadequate response to the external environment. There might be a gap in product range that maintain a product’s (drug, device, and disease) position in the market, or one might find that we are not in the right markets. These issues are not necessarily associated with the publication plan but indicates that we are not serving the market demands adequately.
  2. Internal Gap Analysis:

Internal gap analysis identifies the gaps in current data and potential causes that are associated with them that would be helpful to answer any identified question regarding a drug product or any disease state. It helps to improve publication plan of drug product based on previous performance. We might have a quickest publication plan to get a product into the market, only to find that our product constantly suffer delays by failing to complete tasks as quickly as they should.

Importance of Regular Gap Analysis:

  • Identify the gaps where drug related or disease related publication activity is required
  • Evaluate the performance of the current publication for a drug against that for the competitors
  • Identify the gaps in a drug’s publication selection
  • Evaluate the maximum use of publication of available clinical data
  • Increase the clinical impact of questions and ideas related to research
  • Review what other researchers have already published
  • Determine the key audiences for communicating research

By defining the chasms in the publication landscape, a Gap analysis will expose opportunities to increase publication coverage in terms of which data to focus on in the publication plan, which target audiences such data should be directed to, which of the available journals and scientific congresses and meetings should be targeted for submission, and when these targeted submissions should occur. Ideally, we can say that, a Gap analysis will help maximize the impact of publications related to a drug product, medical device, medical procedure and disease state. It is necessary that Gap analysis should be conducted according to existing ethical guidelines that cover freedom and responsibilities of authors, the reporting of data, and disclosure of conflicts of interest, among other criteria.

Abhishek Kumar

Dr. Shivali Arora

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