Medical affairs as a strategic advantage

Medical Affairs as a department is no longer just a support function. Instead, it’s becoming a vital strategic advantage. From Headquarters to Field Medical teams, accessing current data and metrics that matter is enabling this by allowing Medical Affairs to make data-based decisions backed by objective analysis more efficiently and more accurately than ever before.

As a medical affairs professional, how do you decide where to focus your efforts? Should it be Doctor A or Doctor B? If you rely on previous experience, you may miss opportunities to talk with up-and-coming scientists and physicians. Then, once certain experts are selected, how can you ensure your information is intriguing to them?

In the past, answering those questions involved hours of research for each scientific expert on field medical’s contact lists to identify who spoke where, update their research interests and track those of their co-authors.

Automated, data-driven approaches are replacing those methods and OLAP tools are enabling quick identification of the right expert for the right imperative.  Applied to scientific dissemination – the meetings, presenters, publications and authors – headquarters can quickly understand which expert is better as a speaker and which authors have the most success getting published in relevant journals. MSLs can quickly and compliantly surface up the most scientifically relevant experts with which to have a conversation and increase the value of each scientific exchange.

Getting scientific expert analysis this sophisticated and reliable is no easy process, especially when you’re on a global scale.  Data has to be cleaned, normalized and disambiguated so details such as presenters who have the same names but different specialties are categorized accurately and precisely before being made available to medical affairs teams.  Furthermore, an expert who authors multiple journal articles and posters may often add her name in different configurations, such as Dr. Jane E. Smith, Jane Eleanor Smith or Dr J. E. Smith, MD.  With a popular last name like Smith, you can begin to see the difficulty in the endeavor.


However, with an up-to-date comprehensive database, Field Medical Teams can:

  • Identify which experts are most active in particular areas, for example particular MOAs or other research backgrounds
  • Determine who is most impactful publishing and presenting, and who prefers conducting clinical trials
  • Rank scientific experts dynamically– that is, depending on your medical needs
  • See trends at a glance
  • Track changes in ranking and research interests

Having these metrics at their fingertips can save Field Medical teams hours in preparation time and help them better determine where to invest their efforts. Because they will know who is doing landmark work and who is beginning to shift focus. This data-driven approach provides objective reasons for decisions, eliminating guesswork. And, because this analytic approach relies on continually updated data, teams will have comprehensive information without the gaps that so often mean missed opportunities.

For example, tracking an expert’s trending interests or a new area of research may help launch new, pertinent discussions that make the Field Medical team more valuable to that researcher because the team can provide more targeted scientific information. Identifying the current leaders in specific areas, like K-Ras inhibitors, is just a matter of a simple search. And, knowing that a sought-after expert or colleague recently published a specific paper or presented at a particular conference can provide the talking point that opens the door to discussions.

The ability to tightly target information and experts helps Medical Affairs Field Medical teams reduce their preparation time by up to 67 percent, thus increasing productivity. Tight targeting also makes the team more valuable to experts because the team can focus on their interests accurately and immediately.

As Medical Affairs moves from its traditional support function to become a strategic advantage, the ability to make objective, data-driven decisions will speed that transition.