March 29th, 2021

Efficient Medical-Legal-Regulatory (MLR) review versus creating more content: what’s the priority?

The conundrum


Today, healthcare companies are encouraged to regularly create digital content to attract, engage and delight prospective and current customers to ensure success. Marketing strategies now involve emailers, websites, microsites, mobile apps, social media content, video and webinars. This has been amplified in a COVID world, where the sales process has shifted online to avoid face-to-face interactions.

Additionally, marketing / brand managers aim to sign off on projects which maximise return-on-investment (ROI). A solution to achieve this is to repurpose one piece of content into multiple others.

Image 1. How footage from a single video shoot could be repurposed into multiple outputs.

However, creating vast amounts of content can be a headache for marketing / brand managers, as the daunting MLR (Medical, Legal, Regulatory) process needs to be followed for every material. Effective and timely MLR review becomes challenging as the amount and variety of content explodes. This means healthcare companies tend to avoid content creation solutions with higher ROI.

Image 2. MLR process summary.


MLR process challenges


  • Uploading to the platforms: Uploading the content to MLR platforms and preparing it for the review process takes time out of the marketing / brand manager’s day. Every claim needs to be linked to a reference and the jobs need to be created and managed.
  • Lengthy: The MLR process often takes too long. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months. This could be due to unexpected feedback, out-of-office reviewers, reviewers having too much on their plate, or a change in branding or requirements halfway through the project.
  • Unexpected additional amends: Even though marketing / brand managers have signed off a piece of content, it could need to go back to the drawing board entirely due to Legal or Medical feedback.
  • The reviewers: Remember that most review team members are involved in MLR processes in addition to their daily responsibilities. This requires extra effort and time management for these team members. And in some instances, reviewers give unsolicited feedback outside of their scope of responsibilities, resulting in a complex and stalled process.


Ensuring an efficient MLR process


A more efficient MLR process gives marketing / brand managers the confidence to sign off on projects with more outputs. This results in better ROI and stronger marketing campaigns.

Involving the healthcare communications and public relations agency creating the content in the MLR process can be a game-changer.

  • Training the agency to use the healthcare company’s chosen MLR platform (e.g., Veeva) means the marketing / brand manager can save time in their day by handing over this responsibility to the agency. Saving time on linking references and managing jobs means the marketing team can spend more time on other urgent and valuable projects. 
  • Having a MLR meeting with the agency before the project kicks off. This is an opportunity to explain the process required for each material and to decide how to keep it as concise as possible. What review steps are required if the agency is putting together a website for the healthcare company? From past experience, what can go wrong and how can this be avoided?
  • Introducing the agency to the review team members is an opportunity for the agency to understand what matters to each person involved. What is Legal’s pet peeve? What does Regulatory never want to see in the MLR process again? If possible, allowing the agency to have contact details for the MLR team members means feedback can be checked with these people if necessary, avoiding additional rounds of MLR review. A kick-off meeting also allows to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each person, avoiding unsolicited feedback.

Project management tips for MLR efficiency


Confirming some project management details at the start of the project can also increase the efficiency of the MLR process.

  • Sharing content previews with the review team before it is uploaded to the MLR platform. This gives an opportunity to spot any details that would have stalled the MLR process. The marketing / brand manager may need to explain the value of this additional step to the MLR team. It is likely that they will find it valuable and timesaving, giving them a voice earlier on in the process. This is also a great way to cement relationships between marketing, MLR team and the agency.
  • Being clear on the total number of rounds of review available for a specific material. This means more effort is put into each round by all reviewers.

Healthcare companies can maximise the number of outputs for a project and therefore ROI if they involve the healthcare communications agency in the MLR process. Handing over some of the responsibility, defining team roles and responsibilities, and giving opportunities for previews can help healthcare companies become master content producers.


Schedule a time to speak here if you would like to find out how you can maximise return-on-investment when producing digital content.

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