Advancing Our Profession: Driving Leadership and Best Practices in Medical Communications

A report from the 2022 European Meeting of The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP)

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The medical communications environment is continually changing and evolving. Medical publication professionals have an important and relevant role in ensuring transparent data reporting, whilst building trust and advancing accessibility of published materials. We thoroughly enjoyed attending the ISMPP EU 2022 meeting and have summarised our key takeaways below.

The Evolving Landscape of Medical Communications

Enhanced Content and Optimising Impact

Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) can become overwhelmed by the vast amounts of data available and patients and the general public are increasingly seeking information that is easier to understand, in order to enable their own informed decision making.

Engaging and digestible enhanced content, such as video abstracts, podcasts and infographics, can increase reader interest and comprehension whilst helping to improve general trust in the pharmaceutical industry.1

  • Such materials can be ideal for sharing via social media, improving access to, and engagement with, research by HCPs, patients, patient advocacy groups and the general public2
  • Plain language summaries (PLS) can facilitate communication between HCPs and patients, and the inclusion of a PLS alongside a publication may contribute to increased readership and greater reach of information3,4
Enhanced Content

Key considerations for publication professionals

Mobile Phone

Maintain awareness of new types of enhanced materials to ensure that clients are offered the best advice

Speech Bubble

Involve authors early in discussions around the suitability of enhanced content, whilst ensuring adherence to internal compliance processes


Engage with publishers early to confirm the enhanced content options and any journal-specific requirements

Health Professionals

To optimise impact, always consider the intended audience and key purpose of the enhanced content

Precision Medicine and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Publication professionals have a responsibility to stay at the cutting edge of precision medicine and advancements in AI to help readers navigate continually emerging new technologies.

AI is permitting the completion of higher volumes of work in reduced amounts of time. By engaging with AI, publication professionals can add value to healthcare communications:

  • Existing applications include in-built sorting functions within literature search engines to find the most influential publications, citation screening and citation coupling
  • Natural language processing can be used in gap analyses and publication plans

Combining AI with human intelligence (augmented intelligence) overcomes the limitations that each presents alone.

Artificial Intelligence

Key considerations for publication professionals


There will always be a role for publication professionals; AI cannot replace expert interpretation


Consider opportunities to support publications across novel areas of medicine (e.g. diagnostics and biotechnology)

Light Bulb

Always use common terms and simplified language when describing precision medicine, to aid understanding by patients and non-experts


Data sharing and privacy implications necessitate careful consideration as to when it is of added value to utilise AI

Patient Involvement at the Forefront

The Publication Process

There has been a shift from talking about the need to increase patient involvement in publications to actively considering how this can be achieved.

Evidence-based resources providing quality guidance, tools and training on how to involve patients in publications are paving the way to do so successfully.


Patient involvement in the early stages of clinical development programmes will influence study design, inform endpoint selection and ensure that patients fulfil the authorship criteria for subsequent publications.

Patient involvement in publication planning will help to ensure that the most relevant and informative data for patients are included.

Co-authoring publications with patient authors is essential for creating understandable and relevant content that better reflects patients’ experiences.

Publication Process

Key considerations for publication professionals

Round Table

Onboard ethics and compliance teams early and keep them informed throughout


Provide guidance on adherence to authorship criteria and the importance of using both expert and lay patient reviewers

Research Paper

Re-consider the order of content in a PLS, including key findings and implications for patients first

Thumbs Up

Ensure that patients are acknowledged for their involvement and contributions

Upholding Best Practices

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I)

The diversity of clinical trial participants is crucial to ensure representative trial populations, but a lack of trial awareness, absence of trust and limited communication between patients and the pharmaceutical industry can prevent diverse patient participation in clinical trials.

Socio-cultural and socio-economic factors can pose significant challenges, but strong partnerships between patients, HCPs and the pharmaceutical industry will help to remove the barriers that prevent patient participation.

The healthcare industry is recognising the importance of equity over equality.

Diversity Inclusion

Key considerations for publication professionals


Publication professionals play a role in raising awareness of DE&I through education


Dissemination of information that patients feel is representative of themselves and their experiences can increase patient trust


Consult appropriate DE&I guidelines and propose that content, such as the sex and gender of participants, is routinely reported and discussed in publications

Evolving Guidelines and Recommendations for Best Practices

The medical communications landscape is changing rapidly. Evolving guidelines are crucial in maintaining high quality work and, in turn, ensuring improved outcomes for patients.

Guidance covering newer types of publications, including enhanced content and pre-prints, is beginning to emerge.

As medical communications continue to migrate to a virtual platform, social media channels are increasingly impacting research visibility and engagement. However, the lack of guidance and regulatory concerns surrounding the use of social media limit its adoption by pharmaceutical companies.9

Social Media
Filling Cabinet

As publication professionals, we welcome the planned inclusion of social media guidance in the updated Good Publication Practice guidelines (GPP4), which are due to be published later this year.

Mental Health and Compassionate Leadership

Hybrid working models are likely here to stay so organisations should continue to ensure that they are embracing these new ways of working.

Compassionate leadership and effective teamworking help to promote wellbeing, which translates to increased efficiency and innovation.

Filling Cabinet

We look forward to putting our learnings from the meeting into practice, whilst continuing to keep patients at the forefront of our work and encouraging improved accessibility in all areas of medical research.


  1. Utton-Mishra et al. ISMPP EU 2022 Poster #25
  2. Helson R et al. ISMPP EU 2022 Poster #29
  3. Lobban et al. ISMPP 2022 Poster #23
  4. Winter et al. ISMPP 2022 Poster #8
  5. Khobragade et al. ISMPP 2022 Poster #44
  6. Arnstein L et al. Res Involv Engagem 2020;6(34)
  7. Arnstein L et al. Systematic review and evidence-based recommendations for involving patients as publication authors. Curr Med Res Opin 2019:35:24–25
  8. Richards DP et al. Guidance on authorship with and acknowledgement of patient partners in patient-oriented research. Res Involv Engagem 2020;6(38)
  9. Rees T et al. ISMPP 2022 Poster #5

To contact Costello Medical about this report please email Sarah Clements.