Common Challenges Faced by Medical Affairs Teams

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Overview of our recent article published in The MSL - Journal of the Medical Science Liaison Society. For additional information, view the full article.

Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) work to foster and maintain relationships with Healthcare Providers (HCPs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who specialize in the disease or therapeutic area their product treats. As such, Medical Affairs teams provide crucial scientific value to pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies.

We recently attended the 9th Annual MSL Society Conference in Las Vegas, where we spoke to many MSLs and Medical Affairs professionals about the challenges they face and brainstormed ways to overcome these obstacles. Throughout these conversations, three topics were consistently brought up: 

  1. MSLs would like to be involved earlier in the process of creating the product’s marketing strategy
  2. The desire to spend more time adding value rather than demonstrating the value added to the organization
  3. Capturing actionable insights

When Should Medical Affairs be Brought into Strategic Discussions? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced access to physicians, which means medical affairs and sales teams have to make the most of every opportunity they get to meet with them. This is even more critical for product launches, especially for drugs with newer mechanisms of action where the market might not be as educated. 

Marketing and medical affairs teams usually come together 12-24 months before the product launch. MSLs are able to obtain insights through their interactions with KOLs that could be valuable for the commercial team as they are formulating the product’s marketing strategy. As such, bringing the Medical Affairs team into the strategic discussions earlier will increase the probability of product launch success.

More Time Spent Proving Value Than Adding Value

Medical Affairs teams are often asked to facilitate tasks that are historically the responsibility of the Clinical Operations team, in order to help the overall organization's strategic goals. For example, it is not uncommon for Medical Affairs to assist in facilitating meetings with clinical sites experiencing stalled clinical trial enrollment. In addition, IT support for medical affairs is anemic, with ill equipped tools used to capture insights. Many Med Affairs organizations use Excel to manage KOL engagement plans, while others use specialized SaaS vendors. 

Your Medical Affairs team needs the right tools and resources to do their job. This includes the ability to create KOL lists, track KOL interactions, and capture insights. If your CRM system has strong AI capabilities, the platform will pull data into dashboards and reports that can be easily analyzed and acted upon.

Capturing Actionable Insights

Approaching a KOL meeting with clear objectives and clearly defined potential outcomes can be transformative. Many organizations are not satisfied with the current processes being used to conduct meeting preparation. Most Medical Affairs professionals would agree that fewer engaging and high-quality interactions are typically more beneficial to an MSL than having many meandering interactions. 

Taking this approach will make insights more actionable. Furthermore, approaching meetings with this mindset has the added benefit of focusing the Medical Affairs team, allowing MSLs to capture the insights with a clear idea of how they are helping achieve organizational imperatives.

TikaMobile: Arming Medical Affairs Teams with the Insights, Analytics, and Reports Needed to Overcome These Challenges 

These are some of the most common challenges faced by medical affairs teams. However, how companies and medical affairs teams overcome these challenges is where companies differentiate themselves. 

Are you facing these challenges? Want to discuss ways to help your Medical Affairs team overcome any or all of these obstacles? Contact us today to learn how TikaMSL can help your medical affairs team think and act strategically, assess the impact your MSLs are having on each HCP and KOL, and easily demonstrate your team’s value.

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