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Seizing opportunities beyond clinical publications: KJT as your partner in RWE/HEOR communications

KJT’s Senior Director of Medical Communications, Rebecca Hahn, MPH, ISMPP CMPP™, will be co-presenting an interactive session with Charlotte Singh, MD, ISMPP CMPP™ at this year’s ISMPP Annual Meeting.

The session titled, ‘Non-Clinical Publications: Leveraging HEOR and RWE Publications Across the Product Lifecycle,’ focuses on the evolution of publication strategies in recent years, while sharing real-life examples of thought leadership, Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) and Real World Evidence (RWE) publications.

Read on to meet Rebecca, find out more about the upcoming presentation, and get a glimpse into KJT’s growing Medical Communications practice:

Q: Rebecca, please tell us a little about your professional and academic background – and how you ended up joining the team at KJT.

RH: I joined KJT five years ago in a hybrid role leveraging my expertise in medical writing and conducting research for public release. Prior to KJT, I worked at Harris Interactive for eleven years, known for the Harris Poll. Ken Tomaszewski, the founder of KJT, brought me to Harris Interactive from the University of Rochester, where I was managing a cost-effectiveness and quality of life research study of internal cardioverter defibrillators. I ran this study and previous sub-studies of a large clinical trial, since I earned my MPH in 1995, with a few years in-between where I worked as a Research Subject Advocate in the General Clinical Research Center, also at the University of Rochester. Although I enjoyed the research, I was ready to move away from academia. At Harris Interactive, I was able to be involved in a greater breadth of therapeutic areas and types of studies, including both quantitative and qualitative research. I grew into a leadership role, providing brand equity insights for the largest healthcare account at the company. A few years later I found myself with a wonderful opportunity to work with Ken and many of my former colleagues from Harris, at KJT.

Q: Can you talk more about your research for public release experience?

RH: Since I have been involved in primary healthcare research, specifically RWE and HEOR research, I have learned a great deal about the conduct of that research, specifically research intended for a public audience. Although primary research conducted at a market research company is typically for internal strategic purposes, many of our clients at Harris and KJT understood the value of research designed specifically for communicating externally, to highlight their organizations as thought leaders, to increase awareness of a condition, demonstrate unmet needs of patients with the condition, and to shape the market for future product launches. Over my career, I have led numerous healthcare engagements to ensure the research was properly designed, executed, and communicated, helping to develop best practices for research for public release.

Q: How did you choose this career path?

RH: I had been interested in health and healthcare for a long time but more so in the research and policy side than in clinical practice. During my undergrad years at the University of Rochester, I found a description of the MPH program that sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I was able to enter the 3-2 program for public health, allowing me to complete my undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years. During grad school, I worked part time on the Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial (MADIT) as a research assistant. The cost-effectiveness and quality of life sub-study of the randomized controlled trial was a great entry into healthcare research, and my first foray into authorship on a manuscript detailing the methodology of our study.

Q: How did you end up in Medical Communications?

RH: This really happened organically for me. Over my career, I authored more than 25 posters and peer-reviewed manuscripts as a key researcher on RWE and HEOR studies. When I joined KJT in 2017, I quickly stepped into the role of medical writer, supporting our clients on key publications. I also consulted with my fellow researchers at KJT and clients on the best practices for conducting research for public release, developing study protocols, and submitting research to ethical review committees. Over the past several years, I found that I truly loved medical communications, and have transitioned into a role exclusively dedicated to medical writing, supporting our clients in developing conference presentations, scientific publications, and other strategically-aligned collateral across a breadth of therapeutic areas.

Q: What’s your ISMPP presentation next week all about?

RH: We’re really excited about the upcoming presentation, which is focused on publication strategies and developing plans that involve both core clinical pubs and real-world evidence/HEOR publications. The presentation highlights three, different lifecycle stages in which to leverage a publication strategy: pre-clinical thought leadership; peri-launch; and maturity.

In the past, the primary focus for Medical Communications was on clinical trial data. This remains at the core of publication strategy. However, data collection is now continuously collected across the development/product lifecycle and often occurs prior to the initiation of clinical trials continuing throughout product maturity. A natural extension of this is that publication and communications strategies must align to support dissemination and discussion of that data.

Each stage brings its own challenges and opportunities. Mature product portfolios, for example, can be particularly complex as it relates to how you communicate ongoing value and keep existing products top of mind. This may entail RWE strategies that leverage data from registries or claims databases to reveal trends relevant to clinical practice or an economic consideration. Patient testimonials or experiences can also be shared later in the product lifecycle in a very meaningful way.

Q: Why is this topic important?

RH: Products are much more sophisticated today, and the landscape for product development has really evolved. Think about when statins were launched in the 90s – it was a single pill targeting an enzyme. Now we’re looking at sophisticated products such as CAR-T therapies in the treatment of cancer, which entails extracting cells from a patient, genetically modifying them, growing them to select a specific lineage – then injecting them back into the patient.

Data collection now occurs across the entire product lifecycle. Real world evidence is a major contributor to the influx of data with data transparency and access to data also increasing. It’s incredibly sophisticated, and the complexity of product development requires an enhanced approach to communications.

The audience is more sophisticated as well. We are no longer thinking only about clinicians. Patients are key drivers and decision-makers in their care. Health literacy and equity are rights for these patients that I’m proud we support. We are also increasingly communicating to payer and healthcare decision-maker audiences.

As products have become more complex, the strategies for communicating their value and reaching the right audience has evolved.

Q: What’s next?

RH: For the first time since COVID, we will be travelling to present at the ISMPP event in person. Throughout the conference, KJT will also be capturing and posting insights, and we’ll be sharing our key takeaways post-event on video, which will be posted to our channels in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about KJT’s Medical Communications capabilities and chat with our team, please contact Nancy McKenna.