We were approached by an international think tank to develop a peer-reviewed white paper authored by a group of 13 rheumatology key opinion leaders (KOLs) from around the world, highlighting global challenges and opportunities for clinical care, education, and research. We began by conducting a preliminary literature search on these key topics with respect to rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), and developed a series of questions for the KOLs to consider. We collected feedback via email and telephone interviews and in collaboration with our key client contact, we developed an agenda for a one-day expert panel meeting.
The face-to-face meeting enabled us to work closely with the KOLs to develop a clear framework for the White Paper, and to agree on key messages for policy-makers. Following the meeting, we conducted a more focused literature search to provide further evidence of key topics discussed and developed a full draft of the White Paper. Our rapid delivery of this draft to the KOLs for review kept up momentum from discussions at the expert panel meeting. The KOLs were quick to review the draft publication, plus 1 further draft, and a final version of the White Paper (approved by all 13 KOLs) was submitted to the target journal just 2 months after the face-to-face meeting. Within 1 month of submission, the White Paper was accepted for publication in our first-choice target journal. In response to our pre-submission enquiry, the journal arranged for an editorial piece to be published alongside the White Paper, enhancing the visibility of the article to rheumatology experts and policy-makers.
Our fast turnaround times, careful planning, strategic input and close collaboration with the KOLs throughout the development process guaranteed the delivery of a high-quality publication, within pre-agreed timelines, that surpassed client and author expectations. The success of this project has led to the development of a second White Paper focusing specifically on RMD education; one of the key challenges highlighted in the original article.