In the space of a few years, Medical Information outsourcing has moved from being a last resort to become a core part of the service delivery strategy for most pharmaceutical companies. The speed of change has left some managers playing catch up as far as outsource management is concerned. Making the right decision on what to outsource and the model to follow can play a big part in the success or failure of the outsourcing initiative. In this three-part series, we will explore the different models for outsourcing your Medical Information services, and discuss which factors should be considered to match the best model with your specific needs.
For Medical Information outsourcing to succeed, it needs to be carefully tailored. Off the shelf solutions will rarely bring the best results. You will need to allow for your company’s attitudes towards customer service, the type of support your products require, the budget you have available, and so on. With these criteria in mind, choosing the most appropriate outsourcing model is a key success factor for any outsourcing strategy. You will also want to future-proof your outsourcing strategy, so do think about the direction your company is heading when deciding on the model to follow.
What will I outsource?
Why are you considering outsourcing as part of your Medical Information service strategy? Are you looking for cost savings, do you need to tap into additional talent, is your in-house operation too inflexible, are you struggling to meet the expanding demands of the Regulators, or are you going through a time of change where outsourcing might introduce an element of stability? Many different factors have driven the recent explosion in Medical Information outsourcing, but the biggest driver of all has been the need to maintain quality while budgets shrink and headcount is squeezed ever tighter.
Having decided to dip your toe into the Medical Information outsourcing water, will you start out with just a single task, a discrete project, a sub-section of your product portfolio, or a fully outsourced solution? You may feel more comfortable to start out small, develop your skills in outsource management, and then expand your outsourced services as your skills and confidence develop.
What outsourcing model is best for me?
Once you have decided which part of your service you would like to outsource, you then need to think about which outsourcing model will be best for you. Multiple factors need to be considered including your budget, but also your strategic objectives, the particular challenges of the service you are outsourcing, and your corporate attitudes towards outsourcing. In the first installment of this series, we will consider a Shared Service Model.
A Shared Service Model is arguably the route of choice for most pharmaceutical companies that outsource their Medical Information service although this differs on a country by country basis. In this model, the Medical Information team supporting your products will be working on a limited number of different projects for multiple clients. The key to making a success of a shared service is to ensure that robust processes are in place to maintain an appropriate focus on the needs of your service.
A Shared Service, in which the resource can be turned up or down to meet current needs, works particularly well for products that attract a low or fluctuating volume of inquiries. It also works extremely well in responding to sudden spikes in volumes, such as product recalls. A Shared Service may be less appropriate when the client has its own highly prescriptive, non-standard processes, as a shared service works best when the service provider can work with its own standard processes (while incorporating client-specific requirements).
In the coming weeks, we will also be exploring the Dedicated Service Model and Hybrid Model to help determine which model best suits your specific needs. In conclusion, selection of an appropriate scope and model for your Medical Information outsourcing, taking into account your strategic objectives and the constraints within which you must operate, will have a major influence on the ultimate success of your outsourcing initiative.