Medical Information Teams and Call Center Management (PH167)


  • Manage Medical Information's Expanding Role

    A crucial bridge linking clients and data, medical information teams and call centers answer tens of thousands of inquiries each year.  These teams act as an essential point of contact for audiences that range from medical professionals to patients and caregivers, not to mention key internal stakeholders.

    Successful groups go beyond managing standard response documents and call centers — they maintain the internal visibility to function as a key resource for colleagues across departments and markets.  By proactively working with stakeholders and acting as a dynamic repository for product information and clinical data, the team helps to drive organizational objectives for customer service, compliance, and improvements in patient care.

    Of all medical information responsibilities, however, call center management remains the most important and costly.  Teams ensure that call centers — outsourced and in-house — are outfitted with the staffing and technology required to meet the needs of different clients.  This report addresses the details of call center operations as well as the larger issues facing medical information groups today.


    Boost call center efficiency and increase customer satisfaction.

    Lock down critical resources, track the right metrics and plan for fluctuations in demand.  Contact centers are a critical responsibility, and teams improve their performance by outfitting them with the information, personnel and processes to best meet evolving customer needs.


    Structure medical information to support internal functions across the company.

    Leverage medical information’s unique abilities to inform stakeholders that range from medical affairs to market access to promotional teams.  Escape silos and provide cross-functional support via resources such as company-wide library services and copy review. 


    Explore medical information key tasks and best practices.

    See how top-performing groups create and review standard response documents, handle elevated medical inquiries, deliver trainings and more.

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  • Medical Information Team and Call Center Metrics


    Chapter 1: Medical Information Team Structure and In-House Staffing

    Chapter Benefits

    • Create more visibility for the medical information team within the organization to promote a patient-first culture.

    • Establish a central resource for medical information that serves all related teams.

    • Position med info at the same level as other medical affairs subgroups.

    • Enable greater cross-functional support.

    • Put the right information into the hands of the right users.

    • Staff teams to handle complex medical inquiries.

    • Proactively adjust staffing for inquiry volume and work load.

    • Structure your medical information groups to embrace globalization.

    Chapter Data

    8 charts focused on medical information teams and staffing:

    • Percentage of all companies with centralized medical information groups

    • Medical information FTEs at headquarters and affiliates

    • Percentage of all companies with centralized medical information groups

    • Number of separate medical information groups in decentralized structures

    • Alignment of decentralized medical information groups

    • The medical affairs organization at one company

    • Departments that medical information reports into

    • Level of executive leading the medical information group



    Chapter 2: Medical Information Team Responsibilities

    Chapter Benefits

    • Develop standard response documents that clearly and concisely communicate medical information to the appropriate audience.

    • Understand your audience, and be prepared to address their concerns and questions.  

    • Establish better patient care as the end goal of every standard response document.

    • Outfit field forces to document and submit unsolicited requests.

    • Track medical information requests from field forces to increase team efficiency and compliance.

    • Empower medical information teams to review promotional copy and provide reference support to commercial groups.

    • Manage library services within medical information teams to conduct more efficient literature searches.

    • Establish a process to monitor drug safety and report adverse events.


    Chapter Data

    26 charts focused on medical information teams’ standard responses, requests, and responsibilities:

     Medical Information Standard Responses

    • Number of medical information teams providing written responses to inquiries

    • Period for review/update of standard response documents

    • Number of written responses disseminated monthly per FTE at US call centers and at ex-US call centers


    Information Requests

    • Topic of medical information requests (top 20, top 50, small/biotech)

    • Percentage of requests by healthcare professionals and consumers (top 20, top 50, small/biotech)

    • Percentage of requests made through field forces (top 20 headquarters and affiliates, top 50, small/biotech)

    • Percentage of requests initiated through the following channels (top 20 headquarters and affiliates, top 50, small/biotech companies)

    • Percentage of requests by healthcare professionals and consumers (top 20 headquarters and affiliates)

    • Percentage of written responses delivered per standard inquiry channel (top 20 headquarters and affiliates, top 50, small/biotech)


    Other Team Responsibilities

    • Percentage of companies with public web sites housing medical information documents

    • Percentage of medical information groups responsible for documenting incoming medical requests

    • Percentage of companies that house the library services function within medical information


    Chapter 3: Medical Information Team Budgets and Outsourcing

     Chapter Benefits

    • Plan medical information budgets and align spending with emerging needs.

    • Learn which departments and functions fund medical information teams.

    • Benchmark medical information budgets across headquarters and affiliates over the last three years.

    • Shift internal resources to address changing needs as products move through their lifecycle.

    • Explore the benefits of in-house and outsourced call centers.


    Key Metrics

    28 charts focused on medical information funding, budgets, and outsourcing:


    • Percentage of companies that fund medical information team through related departments

    • Average percentage of medical information budget coming from related functions at company headquarters and company affiliates



    • Medical information team budgets and year-over-year change for headquarters groups (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013)

    • Medical information team budgets and year-over-year change for affiliate groups (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013)



    • % of headquarters teams using outsourced and in-house call centers

    • % of affiliate teams using outsourced and in-house call centers

    • % of headquarters budgets outsourced: 2010, 2011, 2012

    • % of affiliate budgets outsourced: 2010, 2011, 2012


    Chapter 4: Medical Information Call Centers Staffing, Budgets and Performance Tracking

    Chapter Benefits

    • Explore US and Ex-US call center staffing and operations.

    • Staff call centers with capable employees and provide regular training to drive compliant, effective service.

    • Examine the benefits of advanced call center technology and automation.

    • Benchmark in-house and outsourced call center budgets in the US and worldwide.

    • Learn which performance measurements to track to improve call center performance and increase customer satisfaction.


    Key Metrics

    45 charts focused on medical information call centers. Metrics are provided for both US and Ex-US call centers:

     2012 Call Center Budgets

    • Total call center budgets

    • Budgets per FTE

    • Budgets for outsourced call centers

    • Budgets for in-house call centers


    Call Center Employees

    • Staffing levels

    • Total call load per FTE (monthly)

    • Education level for typical call center employees


    Call Center Operations

    • Daily hours of operation

    • Days per week of phone coverage

    • Medical information teams offering on-call services after regular business hours

    • Times on-call services are available

    • Level of interactive voice response (IVR) system in place

    • Automated delivery response systems use for specific kinds of medical information requests


    Call Center Performance Metrics

    • Feedback mechanisms used by medical information teams

    • Performance measurements among different company types (top 20, top 50, small/biotech)

    • Inbound calls per month

    • Inbound calls per FTE per month (oursourced and in-house centers)

    • Target vs. actual turn-around times

    • Average abandonment rates

    • Average customer satisfaction ratings

    • Average hold times

    • Outbound calls per month

    • Ratio of outbound calls to inbound calls

    • Cost per call


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  • Excerpt from Medical Information Research


    This excerpt is a key finding taken from the full report's executive summary:

    Elevate Medical Information Teams’ Visibility to Develop a Patient-Centric Culture

    The medical information team’s emphasis may be to ensure that healthcare providers receive accurate, referenced medically sound responses to their inquiries. But drug and device companies also need to recognize that behind each inquiry is a patient need. For medical information teams industrywide, the desire to increase their visibility within their organizations is growing. By raising the medical information team’s visibility, team leaders aim to push their companies toward a greater patient-centered culture.

    According to an interviewed director of medical information, the general public would view drug and device companies more favorably if they encouraged patient-focused corporate cultures. To that end, he instructs his staff to not only consider healthcare providers as the audience when developing standard response documents but to also recognize that the information disseminated to clinicians will be used to treat real patients. In his mind, those patients could be his mother or grandmother. So the response had better be accurate in a manner that benefits patient care.

    Cutting Edge Information also finds that some patient-centered organizations have larger medical information teams with bigger budgets. Company 2, for example, has 21 FTEs staffed to its medical information team, along with an $11 million budget. The company has publicly announced its plans to engender a patient-centric culture. The company believes that the shift to a patient-centered focus is one way to complement any innovations made through clinical development.

    Company 15 is another example of a patient-centric company with a larger team. One of Company 15’s affiliate medical information teams has 4 FTEs — making it one of the larger affiliate teams among the companies profiled in this study.

    Countless parties place demands on drug and device manufacturers to increase bottom-line profits and shareholder value. But medical affairs teams are either largely or completely removed from those responsibilities. However, medical affairs teams — and medical information teams in particular — have a responsibility to improve patient care. Doing this will, in the long run, indirectly increase profits. Companies that encourage medical information teams to communicate their impact on patient care create additional structural reporting relationships for the group throughout the organization. As more medical information teams communicate and collaborate with other internal functions, such as marketing, legal and regulatory, their impact is more visible companywide. This elevated impact leads to more patient-centric organizations.

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