A Day in the Life of Medical Communications in the Asia-Pacific Region

Karen Woolley of ProScribe Medical Communications has been logging her work today in Australia…

Here’s the plan for today and, given the good fortune associated with the number 8, let’s start with 8 am.*

· 8:00 am – Scan over my “to do” list; yes, everything from last night is still there…just begging to be crossed off.

· 8:05 – 9:00 am – Review email- and website-delivered client requests and updates that have zipped halfway across the world while we in the Asia-Pacific region were sleeping (or eating or exercising or…whatever…); check Twitter; ignore Facebook requests.

· 9:00 am – Check surf conditions (tide and time wait for no man or woman…low tide this afternoon…tempting!). I love the flexibility associated with a medical writing career.

· 9:01 am – 9:30 am – Tricky situation…procurement staff in China affiliate of a major international pharmaceutical company want medical writing services, but they appear to be asking for ghostwriting services. Given the risk of miscommunication, the worst thing to do would be to make too many assumptions and cause procurement staff a loss of face (mianzi)…’tis time to work on a culturally sensitive and GPP2-compliant response. As it is a holiday in China today (Dragon Boat Festival), we have time to review our response with a number of our senior staff who have many years of navigating their way successfully through delicate GPP2 situations in the Asia-Pacific region.

· 9:30 am – 10:00 am – Follow-up on a few items from chairing a session at last week’s ARCS conference in Sydney…900 people in attendance, including regulators, academics, medical journal editors, industry, and CRO staff. Check updates to News items on the Global Alliance of Publication Professionals website (yippee – more publications accepted!).

· 10:00 am – 11:30 am – Work with contracts and resources team to prepare and review proposals for long-term and new clients in the Asia-Pacific region. The projects are of great interest in terms of document type and therapeutic area, but budgets in this region, particularly in some countries, are exceptionally tight. Arguably, this is the region most in need of experienced and ethical writers, but also the region least likely to be able to afford them. Various service and pricing options are debated (and MSAs re-checked!). Giving clients what they need and what they can afford can be two very different things. What would our contracts colleagues do though without the opportunity to work on these challenges?

· 11:30 am – 11:45 am – Cup of tea (English Breakfast – seems quite apt given the origin of this Day in the Life initiative). Take a quick squiz at the Day in the Life website and post a comment. Get some sleep Peter! Send off a few quick emails…

· 11:45 am – 1:00 pm – Continue on with project briefs, resourcing discussions, and proposal tasks…take a couple of calls from clients too. I see a few more enquiries coming through from the region via our website…referrals (and guanxi) do wonders in this region. You need a strong and wide network of happy clients, particularly given the high turnover of staff at some companies (a turnover of 40-60% is not unusual…).

· 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Time for lunch. As we are in the middle of our winter (23ºC – that’s a bit chilly for us), something warm is required – bring on a spicy laksa soup! Review poll results and feedback from ISMPP re. the recent ISMPP Asia-Pacific webinar…very happy J.

· 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm – Chat with staff who are located in different cities in the region…some staff will be visiting the US soon, others have just returned from the US, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea. There is always project news (& travel tips) to share. You can tell a lot about a country from its taxi drivers.

· 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Upload information into our Client Relationship Management tool and scoot around the ProScribe intranet site to look over a couple of SOPs relevant to an upcoming project.

· 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm – The tide is good, but the swell is a little small (screenshot from 5:15 pm below); it may pick up tomorrow (so says many an optimistic surfer!). As the day ends, it is time to review and edit the almighty “to do” list and enjoy (possibly far too much) crossing few items off this list.

* My day started much earlier with a punishing run on the beach – 20 of us are training for a ridiculous Tough Mudder obstacle course / half-marathon event designed by British SAS officers.  Gotta love the Brits – even if they still try to punish those of us who live in the colonies!