By Ryan McGuire,
Senior Research Analyst
As their name suggests, medical information teams are charged with organizing and understanding pharmaceutical companies’ referenced clinical literature. These teams’ handling of companies’ medical literature makes them go-to sources internally for medical requests. The processing of these requests also makes medical information a natural fit for filling the role of, or at least overseeing, library services as well.
In fact, fifty-seven percent of participants taking part in our new study of medical information functions organize library services under medical information teams’ umbrella. For the reasons stated above (medical information personnel are typically the most familiar with company literature), the percentage of companies that give corporate library services responsibilities to medical information teams could climb even higher.
Library services are treated very differently from company to company. At one end of the spectrum, some large pharmaceutical companies have full-scale library services functions with full-time staff. These companies typically have access to every electronic medical journal available through a global web site. The library services function can provide access to any article that an employee requests.
At the other end of the spectrum, smaller companies’ library services functions act as a central repository for all company literature but fail to offer journal articles pertaining to non-company drugs. In reality, what now appears to produce the best results for the ‘average’ pharmaceutical company is to build library services somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Giving employees access to every medical journal under the sun can be extremely helpful, but it also comes at a considerable cost. Conversely, housing only the journal articles in which a company product is mentioned doesn’t offer much help to employees attempting market research or competitive intelligence.
One of the goals for library services, and medical information in general, is to ensure employee’s search for information is as efficient as possible so they can make quality decisions with in their day-to-day activities. There is nothing efficient about asking employees to conduct their own independent literature searches only to have the electronic journal articles stored on their workstations. That can lead to too many repeat purchases of identical publications and at $30 per article reprint, the costs rise quickly even for a large medical information team.
Journal article requests should be placed through the company’s library service team — a group with expertise at handling searches and ordering reprints. Once the article has arrived, the library services team can store it centrally and make it available to anyone in the company, avoiding redundant purchases. When employees learn to rely on this helpful internal resource, they can spend more time doing their jobs and less time navigating the world of medical publications.