February 12, 2019

Medical Information Teams Need AI; Here’s Why

Photo of man holding a post-it note that says A.I.

Medical information (MI) teams are an integral part of every pharmaceutical company’s operations. These teams field questions about medications and devices from healthcare professionals – but also from scientists, patients, and company personnel.

When a healthcare professional requests information about a drug or device, that’s when the MI team steps in to develop a response, which is approved internally and then provided to the questioner in the form of a Standard Response Letter.

The Response Process: There’s a Better Way

Upon receiving a query, researchers must parse the question. What exactly is being asked? What’s the most up-to-date, relevant information available that can accurately answer the question? Does it include a complaint or the report of an adverse event? The most accurate information must be provided, and the proper protocol must be followed.

The response process is vital, but it’s also repetitive, time-intensive, and costly. While MI teams use a variety of automated systems and processes to quickly respond with high-quality, accurate, and balanced responses, there is considerable expenditure of human effort at a high cost. Many pharma companies spend millions each year supporting their MI teams either internally or through outsourcing. It’s an area crying out for help.

What if the MI response process could be automated to remain compliant, maintain a human touch, and be more cost-effective? How would this work? Artificial intelligence (AI) is the answer.

As we’ve said, AI isn’t the future; it’s the now, and there’s virtually (pun intended) no limit to what it can help us accomplish. AI makes it possible to provide better self-serve environments and helpful virtual assistants. AI can help with other MI needs, too, such as content analysis for tagging and summarization, entity recognition to extract entities like treatments and company names, and analytics reporting.

Rather than solely relying on humans manually entering data into spreadsheets, reviewing literature, compiling responses, and copying common answers, the process can be triaged by AI, giving its humans the ability to focus on the most urgent and complex issues, while rote work is handled automatically (and then checked by humans).

Cognitive Core to the Rescue

Changing processes is often as much about change management as it is about implementing any specific new tool. We’ve been helping clients streamline processes like these for decades, so we’re well versed in ways to introduce innovation.

At Intouch, we marry the expertise of our in-house medical science professionals and our deep understanding of AI to develop solutions that can streamline MI processes effectively, while keeping all of the necessary touchpoints to ensure that automation doesn’t put compliance at risk or lose the vital human touch. Using Intouch’s proprietary AI platform, Cognitive Core, it’s possible to analyze documents, extract relevant content, and piece together accurate response information rapidly and cost-effectively.

We’ve been implementing – and evolving – Cognitive Core for clients since 2014. It isn’t a specific website or piece of software: It’s contextually aware pharma intelligence that can connect and integrate with any platforms, internal or external, that our clients have. Since we built it specifically for the pharmaceutical industry, it works with the language, regulatory requirements, and all the other quirks and details that are specific to our industry.

Interested in learning about how Cognitive Core can improve your medical information workflow? Reach out to us to set up a demonstration.

Authors: Abidur Rahman, senior director, innovation and new technology development; Andrew Grojean, senior manager, innovation