If you have seen the term “MLR review” and have wondered what it means, don’t worry–you are almost certainly already familiar with the process it describes. It stands for “medical, legal, and regulatory review,” and is one name for the process through which life science companies assure that their advertising and promotional materials comply with internal and external guidelines and regulations.

MLR review stands for medical, legal, regulatory review

Your company may have a different name for it–like MMLR review, MRC review, PRC review, regulated content review, or promotional review. Regardless of what you call it, you know that it is a non-negotiable step in getting your marketing materials into the hands of sales reps, medical science liaisons, healthcare providers, and key audiences.

Good brands in any area stick to their brand guidelines and avoid making inaccurate promises about their products. In life sciences, doing so is even more important. Inaccurate claims about drugs or medical devices can lead to costly, brand-damaging FDA violations and fines. So getting MLR review right is necessary for life science companies to thrive.

As you reflect and improve upon your own process, consider these cornerstones of the MLR review that will set you and your organization up for success.

Clear goals and expectations

When you get into a rhythm with an MLR review process, sometimes inefficiencies go unidentified and unaddressed. For example, maybe every time you get copy from a particular agency, the same errors appear–an outdated logo, a style guide gaffe, or a misused claim. To keep things moving, you correct the errors ad hoc. 

Reactive, rather than proactive, processes like this can cause big problems down the road. So the first cornerstone of MLR success is setting clear performance goals.

There are tools available (such as Pepper Flow®) which track your MLR review process and identify pain points. With such a solution, you can set goals for process improvement. For instance, if your analytics reveal one specific review bottleneck, you can build quarterly goals around addressing it. Clear goals for all teams to focus on yields an ever-more efficient, effective process.  

Along with clear goals, a successful MLR review process needs clear expectations. 

With internal staff and external partners all working on a single content piece, confusion can grow over who is accountable for what. It’s not hard to imagine having content ready for print, or even going live, only to realize that an error was missed simply because of unclear review roles.

This is why Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are so important to MLR success. SOPs ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them each time they review content–even if there is turnover or new partners on board. 

Collaboration and teamwork

During MLR review, having people working as a true team rather than in competing silos leads to success. You can foster healthy collaboration through: 

  • Clear onboarding and training when people join a company or are brought onto a project; 
  • Clear project planning with set deliverables; 
  • Playing to team members’ strengths; 
  • Accounting for employees’ different personalities, different capabilities, and different areas and levels of expertise

When there is the sense that everyone is working toward the same goal, rather than duplicating work or being pushed to work outside of their wheelhouse, everyone is happier and fewer mistakes are made.

A smooth process makes for a happy team, and a happy team makes for a smooth process.

A culture of compliance

We already mentioned that compliance violations can be costly and sacrifice a brand’s reputation. With such high stakes, compliance-mindedness should be built-in and reinforced as part of the review process.

Today, compliance-mindedness is synonymous with using the right tech tools. Take for example claims management–a potential compliance minefield. 

If claims language is stored only on individual hard drives–or in the individual heads of employees–just one employee absence can derail an entire review process. In a best case scenario, you lose a day. In the worst, someone pushes a document containing incorrect language ahead, leading to a violation. Claims language should be kept in a central location that can be easily accessed by all. 

Compliance becomes an issue with MLR reviews facilitated by run-of-the-mill office tools. You receive an email with an attachment, take a look at the document, make your changes and send it along. The process seems to work

But the errors it sets you up for soon become obvious. Multiple versions of files flying back and forth. Incorrect documents being pushed forward in the process. Bottlenecks that take up valuable time.

That is why MLR review-specific tools are catching on; tools that make compliance-minded collaboration as effortless as it should be. 

The right tooling

MLR review is a complex process. It demands that many people review, provide feedback on, and sign off on a document. It often occurs on a high-pressure deadline. At each step in the process there is the possibility for error–even when you’re all on the same page and adhering to best practices.

But such errors can be reduced to zero with the right tech tools; they are the cornerstone of all MLR cornerstones. 

Pepper Flow automates and streamlines the entire MLR review process. The software lets you manage meticulous, MLR-specific tasks like claims management as easily as today’s word processors catch and correct spelling errors. It lets you review, annotate, and collaborate on the fly.  And it has several other features to make sure that when your sales reps and key stakeholders get your content, it promotes your product and espouses your values with reliably compliant, on-point messaging.  

The more efficient you are during MLR review, the faster you’re able to get your content to market and key stakeholders. Rather than backtracking, cleaning up mistakes, or bracing for an FDA warning, you’re focusing on your organization’s mission and developing great content.  With these cornerstones in place, your organization will be set up for MLR success.