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Preparing for an Advisory Board Meeting: A Medical Writer’s Perspective

Advisory board meetings (ABMs) have been used since long by the pharmaceutical companies to gain medical and commercial insights about a specific drug/product. A group of experienced professionals or key opinion leaders (KOLs) from a specific therapy area are invited to share their experiences and needs on a specific/pre-decided agenda. Such meetings are also termed as expert opinion meet (EOM) or general advisory board (GAB) meetings. Most of the times ABMs are sequential which are scheduled after a gap of weeks or months to finalize the discussions. The role of a medical writer (MW) is crucial before, during and after the ABM.

Let’s begin the overall journey of a MW in ABM

 The journey of ABM goes from 4 different stages:

Fig1

KOL: Key opinion leaders, MOM: Minutes of meeting

Kick off call with the client:

Understand the objective of meeting in first client call- Ask for the agenda and request to share the relevant reading materials as per the topics to be discussed. Make yourself familiar with the topics. Fix the timelines to go ahead with the assignment.

 It is very important to show your full enthusiasm for the project you have been assigned and to make sure that you are open to attend all the meetings as per their scheduled dates and venues.

 Pre- Meeting Assignments

The pre meeting assignments for a MW could be:

  1. A) Literature search- Based on requirements, the MW devises a strategy for literature search that includes defining key words, inclusion/exclusion criteria for studies, applying appropriate filters and getting full texts of the key papers.
  2. B) Preparing a summary literature document (excel or word) – To be circulated among the panel members few days before the meet.
  3. C) Survey questionnaire: At some occasions, we at Knowledge Isotopes have also prepared survey questionnaire for the participating members of ABM at the request of our clients. These questionnaires serve to gather information and requirements for the subsequent ABMs.
  4. D) Preparing slide deck- Slide decks are generally prepared on the behalf of the client to be presented by them during the ABM. In the past, we also have requests from the KOLs to make slide decks based on the outline given by them. Before presenting, these are reviewed by the KOLs.

 Here are few tips for preparing pre-meeting assignments:

Fig2

LOT: Line of treatment, LOE: Level of evidence, RCT: Randomized controlled trial, HCPS: Health care professionals

It is good to keep regular communications with client while working. Revisions should be shared and discussed thoroughly before preparing the final assignment. Once you are done with the final draft, mail it to the client along with the important literature for consideration.

Preparation for the Live Meeting:

  • Be confident and well prepared with the subject to be discussed
  • Dress up in business/formal attire
  • Don’t forget to keep your visiting cards and company brochures with you
  • It is very important to reach the venue at least half an hour before the scheduled time
  • The most important thing that you have to do is to note down the names of all participants in the order of their sitting in the board room (that helps in jotting the minutes of meeting [MoMs] during and after the meeting)
  • Introduce yourself by your name, organization, qualification and relevant experience and also summarize the objective of your existence in the meet
  • Keep your laptop ready with the opened word draft, literature and slide deck to be presented
  • Keep your sound recording device ready for the recordings. You can use any good sound quality recorder from your laptop or from your mobile. Do check the recording quality of your device prior to the start of meet.
  • Keep your phone on silent mode
  • Listen carefully and note down all the relevant points and discussions from start till end
  • For quick writing, the comments can be noted by speakers’ order numbers instead of their names
  • Be attentive in the meeting. During discussion, anyone might ask for references for any point mentioned in the document or slide deck.

 

This is the point where you can show your presence if you are familiar with that reference. So, it is very important to be thorough with the material you prepared for the meet.

 

  • Don’t show any vague idea; speak only if you are sure. If you are not confident, you can wind up by saying, “I’ll get back to you on this in the next session or I’ll confirm to the project leader and shall post the respective solution by mail”.
  • During the break, interact with the participants and get involved in their discussions. It will mutually benefit both; for the speakers to meet a competent and well knowledgeable writer and for you to build your confidence to communicate with HCPs on scientific topics.
  • If you sense any scope of business opportunity at their end, it is good to share your visiting card and your company brochures to represent your organization
  • While leaving, do confirm with your organizer for the timelines of sending MOM and final report
  • The organizer may announce the tentative date of next meet, so you should be mentally prepared with your next visiting plan.

 

Advisory board meetings usually have tight timelines. Depending on the nature of the final deliverables, the timelines of sending MOM could vary from 48 hours to 1 week, and a few weeks for the first draft of a manuscript (if required). You can write more accurately while your memory is still fresh so it is good to write MOM as soon as the meeting is over.  Also completing your task before the timelines would prevent you from panicking, in case your client asks you to make any major changes at an eleventh hour.  It will help you to gain confidence of your client for your work. The client will appreciate your flexibility of accomplishing your task and this will also improve your credibility with your client and your organization.

 

Be tuned for our sequential blog  on how to prepare the documents post meeting!

Thanks and Regards

 

Shelly Arora and Shivali Arora