Return on intelligence – Medical Affairs ROI

Expectations for Medical Affairs departments are bigger than ever and will continue to grow in importance. Business executives accustomed to measuring results in terms of profit or loss are scrutinizing activities. After decades of streamlining and budget tightening, they’re focused on what once was a cost center – Medical Affairs – and are questioning how, exactly, it quantifies it’s activities and validates the results.

Withstanding that scrutiny can be challenging, simply because Medical Affairs’ returns are intangible, and intangibles are notoriously difficult to quantify. The marketing department, for example, can face that scrutiny by presenting a return on investment (ROI) based upon correlating marketing campaigns with product sales.

Medical Affairs lacks that luxury. Its ROI is more accurately a Return on Intelligence. This ROI accrues when MSLs engage regularly with researchers and physicians, leaving them better informed about topics that are integral to their abilities to practice cutting-edge science. Such intangibles can’t be quantified on financial statements.

Objectively measuring Medical Affairs’ ROI is possible, though. New Medical Affairs 2.0 tools let professionals track key opinion leaders’ activity in clinical trials, journal publications and conference presentations and determine how their activity and interests have changed over time. Using this data-driven approach to selecting authors or presenters provides concrete rationale for your choices. Other tools allow MSLs to mine the world’s conferences and journals quickly and easily to identify new opportunities to present the right data to the right audience. This substantiates an objective, bottom-up approach that resonates with senior leadership. Together, these two approaches form the foundation of a data-driven, analytical approach that supports quantification.

The third step is to measure the impact of your scientific imperative in what, today, is an ocean of data. We call this impact Share of Scientific Voice. Measuring Share of Scientific Voice is a good metric for tracking Medical Affairs’ real value over time. Rather than measure the impact of a particular journal, or even the gravitas of a particular opinion leader, measuring Share of Scientific Voice provides quantifiable evidence of how effectively your scientific message resonates within the broad medical community.

For example, research discussing Antimicrobial Stewardship strategies to circumvent antibiotic resistance may be well-suited for broad-based journals like the New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), but it may gain more traction in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Detailed analytic analysis can help make the decision between journals with broad applicability whose readers may find your work an interesting curiosity and those with targeted readerships who may see your findings as news they can use. Tracking your Share of Scientific Voice helps you make such distinctions.

Using metrics developed specifically for Medical Affairs helps ensure you are using metrics that matter, not only to inform your decisions, but to provide data-driven evidence to support those decisions. In that way you can provide quantifiable data and measurable trends that reflect changes in your ability to share scientific knowledge with key opinion leaders.

Unlike sales and marketing, Medical Affairs’ successes aren’t measured by profits or losses. Your successes are measured by increases in knowledge. For Medical Affairs, ROI clearly means “Return on Intelligence.”