The Road to a Paperless Review Process
Established in 1945 in Bamberg, south Germany, Dr. Pfleger Arzneimittel’s core production is over-the-counter and prescription medication. They are also known for their popular ipalat® throat pastilles (food products) and cosmetics (hair and nail health). This pharmaceutical company employs 375 people, and last year their 60+ product line generated sales of more than 92 million euros.
At Dr. Pfleger Arzneimittel’s, every single product, in all formats—from bottles, tubes, boxes, with or without leaflet inserts—must be verified, reviewed and approved by the Medical Information Department. Predictably, a large part of this verification process involves proofreading, therefore the road to market is through this department.
The proofreading process at Dr. Pfleger Arzneimittel was in paper form and involved two people working on the same document at the same time. One would read aloud from the approved manuscript, while the other would follow along and confirm that the “final” version matched the original manuscript. Once this process was complete, the department manager had to perform a final review before the document was approved. All told, one document was checked at least twice, by at least three people to ensure the highest possible quality.
The Medical Information Department had a system of red folders to manage this lengthy process: once a document was proofread, it went into this folder, indicating it was approved to go to the next step of the process – sent to the Regulatory Affairs Department. This meant that everything the company manufactured was recorded on paper and circulated by hand, a very time-consuming and inefficient process.
Once the product and text were approved by the regulatory authorities, the Word document was then required to be compared against the printer’s proof, a PDF of the labelling and packaging. At this point, the manual verification process started over.
Choosing TVT (Text Verification Tool®)
With time, workloads increased and so did the inefficiencies of their current proofreading process. This prompted the Medical Information Department to request a solution: establish a better way to compare and proofread their products. Two people working at the beginning of the proofreading process was costly and inefficient. Saving time and money was one concern and the other was the quality of the final documents they submitted. What they needed to optimize their workflow was clear: an automated proofreading solution. As an absolute minimum the new automated proofreading solution was required to accurately compare different file formats to one another, specifically, Word to PDF.
Dr. Anna Derr, Senior Project Manager of the Medical Information Department heard about the Text Verification Tool (TVT), and in just a few short weeks, she presented the idea to her manager to try a new workflow process using a test version of TVT. Both Dr. Derr and her manager tried the test version for one month. Dr. Derr convinced her department that TVT was worthwhile and her manager finalized the purchase of TVT’s latest version (5.1) in 2008.
Neither she nor her manager had previous experience using TVT or any other proofreading software. They had both used the standard Microsoft Word to Word document comparison tool but TVT was the first tool they had ever heard of that could compare Word to PDF. Once they had the opportunity to do so, they couldn’t do without TVT.
Although the installation of TVT only took a few minutes, the transition to an improved workflow took slightly longer. The Medical Information Department was not able to go paperless immediately. They ensured all proofreading checks were performed using TVT, but the approved documents still circulated on paper, with a custom stamp her team had made to show the work had been checked by TVT.
As Dr. Derr and her department became familiar with TVT’s capabilities through Schlafender Hase’s online TVT manual and helpful e-Learning videos, the focus shifted to the reports that TVT was able to generate. The TVT reports were easy to produce, comprehensive and clear; integrating these reports became the next step on the road to a paperless workflow. Once the TVT reports were fully implemented and accepted as the prerequisite for final printing approval, the company’s product records were kept electronically – and only one person was needed to do the verification. “It was such a relief to have TVT as part of our process,” said Dr. Anna Derr. “Not only was the tool easy to use, it allowed us to become more efficient and scale up our output significantly.”
Today the Medical Information Department use TVT to primarily review package leaflets to ensure word breaks make sense and are where they should be. It is also used to check for missing spaces between words on the PDF proof, an error that could easily be overlooked when the printer has unintentionally clumped words together.
Dr. Anna Derr recommends TVT whenever she meets industry colleagues responsible for ensuring an efficient and error-free proofreading process.