In December 2021, our VP Medical Affairs, Joseph Laudano, was interviewed for the MSL Society Conference Magazine.
Drawing from his vast amount of experience, among other related topics Joe discusses growing trends in the MSL profession, he shared best practices for ‘the new normal’, and also outlined his valuable advice to MSLs struggling to get valuable engagements with KOLs.
Read below for key extracts from the article, and click or tap here to read the full piece.
What growing trends have you seen in the MSL profession in the new normal post-COVID-19?
While digital engagement was a growing trend before the pandemic, its use has been accelerated as a result. While engagement is more challenging than it ever has been, on the positive side, technology has been rapidly adopted, enabling scientific exchange to continue via video calls, and other activities, such as virtual ad boards and online education, and in some ways becoming more efficient. Thought leaders/HCPs and MSLs have become more familiar and comfortable with virtual meeting technologies and ways of interacting. True, we all know there is no substitute for face-to-face conversation, but Zoom, Teams, whatever platforms are used, their increased use has revolutionized the ability to connect when used effectively.
With many scientific meetings going virtual over the last 18 months, the use of social media, particularly Twitter, for sharing new scientific data, clinical cases and application of novel technologies, such as devices, has increased dramatically. This increase in peer-to-peer exchange among HCPs, has enabled sharing of best practices, and for MSLs, provides valuable insights into the latest disease management trends to help them be better-prepared and have more productive conversations.
With access challenges, there has been a trend with our clients towards an increasing focus on quality of interactions rather than quantity. Exacerbated by Covid, this is a trend that’s going to continue moving forward which is hugely positive. MSLs cannot be measured solely on the amount of calls, interactions they’re having – it’s about identifying and connecting with the right experts in the right way at the right time in line with their strategic objectives.
What best practices have you experienced in the new normal that can be shared with the MSL community?
I think that we can learn a lot from the experience the MSLs have had over the last 18 months. Their ability to adapt and their agility has been impressive. They have had to overcome access challenges and advance their digital skills. However, this has not diminished the importance that medical teams place on having visibility of the most complete and current science to be great scientific partners for their thought leaders and HCPs. So the best practice of blending innovation in activities with preparation based on the latest data, is delivering effective engagement and providing value to HCPs.
What advice would you give MSLs struggling to get valuable engagements with KOLs?
I’d say it’s critical to ensure you approach any interaction with a thought-leader-centric mindset. And what I mean by that is, ensure you become incredibly knowledgeable and well-versed in that thought-leader’s research, and other scientific disseminations on their key areas of expertise, and those in their network. Relationships build over time, but this will be accelerated by being supremely prepared and professional and knowledgeable about the latest scientific contributions a TL has made and the value of their clinical influence. Again, it comes back to the importance of qualitative interactions over quantitative.
What has been your biggest challenge this year as a company, and how did you overcome it?
There’s no question, it’s of course coming out from Covid, as most organizations would likely say, and we’ve successfully adapted in terms of our interactions. But for us, another challenge has also been in identifying the needs and trends in the medical and scientific landscape. It’s critical that measurement for MSLs is focused on a qualitative approach, rather than quantitative, and we see our role as firstly getting that message out there, and secondly providing the tools that accurately and objectively provide that measurement.