A medical professional's desk with computer displaying a standard response letter template, surrounded by medical journals, and a stethoscope.

Crafting a Standard Response Letter with Agility and Precision: Part 2 - Developing and Structuring Content

In my previous article, we delved into the initial phases of crafting a compelling standard response letter, utilizing febuxostat (Uloric) as an example. We explored the template creation process, the strategic selection of a topic that resonates with healthcare professionals, and the intricate task of conducting a thorough literature search on PubMed. Having sifted through numerous studies, we handpicked relevant articles about febuxostat’s use in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). With our research complete, it’s time to construct our standard response letter.

Let’s pick up from where we left off.

Title Header Creation

Before the writing process begins, it’s important to clarify the question that the standard response letter aims to address. An impactful title header does this effectively. Consider the febuxostat example, with options such as:

  1. “The use of febuxostat in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease”
  2. “Febuxostat: safety and efficacy in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease”

Basic Disclaimer

Next, we include a brief disclaimer. This sets the stage for the reader to understand the context and intent of the response, as well as its limitations.

Summarizing the Key Article

The cornerstone of our response is the CARES trial by White et al. Applying my TLDR (too long didn’t read) approach, we describe the basic design and conclusions in one sentence. We then detail various aspects of the study as described previously, including:

  • Study design (info not included in the TLDR sentence)
  • Objectives (info not included in the TLDR sentence)
  • Inclusion/Exclusion criteria
  • Treatments
  • Baseline characteristics
  • Outcomes and results (primary, key secondary/exploratory/adhoc, safety)
  • Limitations
  • Conclusions

Incorporating Graphics

To break up the text, include a pertinent graphic – a table, for instance, displaying the primary endpoint and key secondary endpoints mentioned in the conclusion statements. This approach keeps numbers and datapoints out of the text, providing a balanced and engaging reading experience.

Pro tip: If you have a standard or pro version of Adobe Acrobat, consider exporting the PDF to PowerPoint in order to pull out graphs and edit them to match your fonts, colors, etc.

Summarizing Additional Similar Articles

In this instance, a second article that mirrored the CARES trial’s findings and offered little new information was summarized in a single sentence and cited. You can also add a simple sentence like “Additional data are available on this subject” and cite that.  

Creating a Summary Section

The TLDR opening sentence is then pulled into a bullet point in a summary section at the beginning of the letter. To further increase readability, a shorter headline version of this sentence is used to serve as a header for the section, which is hyperlinked from the summary bullet. Remember, breaking up the text improves the reader’s engagement, so don’t shy away from utilizing headings, subheadings, graphics, and bulleted lists.

Summarizing Subsequent Key Articles

In a similar vein, we summarize subsequent key articles, specifically the study by Suzuki et al. which focused on patients with a history of heart failure.

Finishing Touches

To conclude, we hyperlink all the references to the respective online articles. By providing a ‘highlight reel’ instead of rehashing the entire article, these hyperlinks encourage readers to delve deeper if they wish.

Check out the final version of the letter here.

This systematic process delivers standard response letters that are concise, actionable, and relevant to your medical information teams. Remember, only include information that answers the question at hand. For a more detailed guide on this, check out my article on the medical information response revolution.

At CoreMed Communications LLC, we specialize in the art of crafting standard response letters for medical information in the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring your team is equipped with accurate, compliant responses for unsolicited medical information requests. Our commitment to speed, quality, and personalized service sets us apart. If you require expertise in this domain, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Stay tuned for more insights and practical tips for the medical writing field!