Increasing the value of field medical

Enhancing efficiency, increasing productivity, maximizing value, and doing more with existing resources are always considerations for any industry.

For Medical Affairs professionals, the last consideration is, of course, financial.  Getting the right information to the right people – often to save people lives – is the key priority.

However, whether you’re in Field Medical leadership or a liaison in the field, at some point or another, you will find yourself in the position to defend the time and money you spend on your activities, to explain why you spent so many hours pursuing a goal or engaged with a set of thought leaders and scientific contributors.

As the importance of Medical Affairs grows, Medical Science Liaisons are being called on to visit with more scientific experts, increasingly making productivity a concern.  For MSLs, saving on the time required to prepare for each scientific engagement and being able to validate efforts, will be essential.  For leadership and management, the math can be exceptionally clear.

Case Study 1

Consider a ballpark figure, an estimated spend for a big pharma company. Say the average annual MSL salary at big pharma is $175,000. With bonuses, benefits and expenses, the total cost for each MSL could total $293,000. That’s $146 per hour. The average MSL spends 2.5 hours (sometimes more) preparing for each meeting with a key scientific contributor. That’s $365 even before time spent in a meeting. With 100 MSLs each engaging with 200 contributors per year, costs skyrocket to $7.3 million – just for call prep. Shaving one hour from the preparation time for each meeting could save 2,000 hours or more than $2.9 million.  This same saved hour increased one big pharma’s calls by 120%, helping its MSLs do more without increasing – or decreasing – headcount.

The company achieved these results by centralizing an extremely comprehensive and continually updated dataset of thought leaders’ scientific dissemination.  Collected in one place, analytics applications helped MSLs quickly pull up the most relevant science from the most relevant thought leaders in the therapeutic area. No more time wasted in Google Scholar, PubMed or outdated profiles.

And, with the insights they gained, MSLs understood each contributor’s mindset better, which led to more productive meetings. For example, with analytics based on every presentation or poster, publication, and even grant, patent and guideline, – over time – MSLs could identify any changes in a contributor’s research interests.  In turn, MSLs noticed when an ancillary interest became more important or when a contributor changed gears to pursue new fields of scientific inquiry.

Combined, all these insights add context that can shape the agenda for meetings in ways that add value for the scientific contributor and that make the best use of both parties’ time. Specifically, it ensures that MSLs have the most relevant supporting materials.

Case Study 2

Importantly, using data and analysis based on scientific dissemination allows Medical Affairs to balance anecdote with fact. For example, we all think we know the leaders in our field, but those leaders change. Sometimes these changes are subtle and easy to miss.

Call data shared by another big pharma customer was lined up with the top 50 therapeutic area experts based on their scientific dissemination.  The results (See Chart) showed significant gaps in time spent with the most relevant medical scientists.  Figure 1 shows that often times the field organization wasn’t spending enough time with up-and-coming researchers, while Figure 2 shows that too much time was spent with folks who were less prolific in the therapy area. The Medical Affairs department decided increasing meetings with up-and-coming scientific contributors and decreasing interactions with contributors whose work had less to do with the current focus of the company.

Analytics, developed specifically for Medical Affairs, allow for quicker information retrieval and analysis that leads to profound insights and more productive conversations. But the main value is that MSLs can spend less time on meeting preparation and more time engaging with the right scientific contributors.