Measuring the value of medical affairs

“The true measure of the value of any business leader and manager is performance.”  Motivational speaker Brian Tracy

“The problem with so many organizations is that they’re driven by metrics that don’t matter.”  – Venture capitalist Brad Feld

Relying on performance metrics that don’t matter guarantees that value won’t be appreciated. That’s dangerous for Medical Affairs professionals, leaving them less able to prove their worth in an environment where the stakes are high and getting higher.

The problem is that commercial metrics – the measurements used by marketing and sales – don’t apply to the complex dynamics of Medical Affairs, where success is measured less by last quarter’s sales than by getting the right information into the hands of physicians who need it.

To do this, measuring Share of Scientific Voice has potential merit. This approach looks at all the major Medical Affairs tactics and measures them in total, rather than measuring them separately in a silo approach.

Pharmaceutical commercial groups use a corollary of this approach, called “Share of Voice,” along with additional measurements. Consequently, these metrics are well known and established. Share of Voice, as a commercial metric, measures numbers of sales, sales calls per day, the quantity of print ads compared to competitors, quantity of social media interactions, etc.

Share of Scientific Voice is slightly different. Unlike commercial Share of Voice, the Share of Scientific Voice was developed specifically for Medical Affairs. It does not necessarily measure activities against those of competitors (although for some of the tactics you could). Instead, Share of Scientific Voice measures such tactics as the number and quality of:

  • Phase IV clinical studies (both sponsored and supported)
  • Publications (both meeting abstracts and full publications)
  • Interactions by Medical Liaisons with healthcare professionals
  • Questions answered for patients and healthcare professionals by Medical Information
  • Medical education provided to healthcare professionals
  • Health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) studies and analyses conducted.

Determining Share of Scientific Voice goes deeper than merely measuring activities, although that’s a good start. It begins with meticulous planning with well-defined goals in mind.

During medical affairs planning, strategy would be optimized to develop the best possible combination of tactics to provide the most comprehensive, unbiased information to patients, insurers, pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), providers and healthcare professionals. While the strategy is being executed, additional activities would be undertaken to refine the scientific and HEOR data.

Because links between Medical Affairs activities and outcomes are indirect, results can be difficult to measure. Computer algorithms, however, are being developed to facilitate that step. These new and emerging measurement capabilities can help Medical Affairs professionals maximize the impact of various tactics and align them with those of their internal partners to create a more impactful program. For example, to gain maximum effect, Medical Affairs programs should:

  • Measure Phase IV clinical studies (both sponsored and supported) not just by their quantity but by their quality and their ability to answer important scientific and clinical questions.
  • Select journals not just for their gravitas, but for their acceptance rates, the time for an approved manuscript to be published, the impact of the journal on the intended audience, the interests of its core readers and the type and quality of data being presented.
  • Identify Thought Leaders based upon defined criteria supported by current data, so medical liaisons understand each Thought Leader’s expertise, level of activity and current areas of interest.

Share of Scientific Voice looks to be a valid, logical approach that facilitates alignment with internal partners and maximizes Medical Affairs’ value. As such, it will advance the ultimate goal of getting patients the right treatment at the right time.