Medical Affairs Focus

Thoughts on Global Medical Affairs

Topic 25: Highlights of Day 2 of the Medical and Scientific Communications 2013 Forum

A great second day for the MSC meeting, with a range of interesting topics.  My take below.

DISCLAIMER:  My focus is on interesting information, I did not try to take verbatim notes and will not try to assign comments to a particular speaker.  Any mistakes are mine alone.

In no particular order, some of things are found interesting included:

–  MSL Value Proposition:

  • Questions of value are often linked with a lack of fully understanding what a modern MSL does, vs. MSLs of old
  • Many in group have had good success inviting key stakeholders, up to and including CEO, for ride-alongs with MSL
    • Proven track record at overcoming skeptics about MSL skills and value
    • One key to proving value is remain consistent in priorities to show value over time
      • When priorities are shifting its hard to build up track record
      • Remember that one of the greatest MSL values, relationships, is the least structured and always make that point clear

–  Other non-traditional areas where MSLs can show value:

  • Training CRAs on underlying science before trials
  • Conducting formal evaluations of CME vendors to ensure vendors are providing good value
  • Identifying authors for Pub group

–   Measure what matters to the people that matter

  • Develop measures that highlight accomplishments that only MSLs can achieve
  • Create monthly list of these unique accomplishments to address qualitative questions

–  External Surveys

  • Important to get qualitative measures
  • But expensive and difficult
  • Also, expect lots of push back from people who don’t think they are fair
  • Don’t let the complainers win, the data is critical to effectively target efforts

–  A number of MSL organizations use monthly internal newsletters

  • Highlight key activities and accomplishments
  • Provide some science training
  • Implicitly defines values and culture through examples chosen and emphasis

–  Challenge of “boom bust” in MSL team sizing

  • Number of speakers referred to the challenge of staffing for launch only to see the team significantly reduced 1 to 2 years after launch
  • This is especially challenging outside of the US where country-level resources are very limited
  • Need to consider this issue up-front during initial staffing and make the case for the long term from the start

–  Breakout session about MSL management

  • Almost everyone in group had turnover of less than 10% and most less than 5%
  • Most organizations had two non-managerial  levels of MSL – MSL and Sr. MSL
    • Some organizations had three with an Executive MSL above Sr.
    • Most organizations had at least two managerial levels but the titles varies
      • Some had three
      • Expectations about activity level varied but some examples from different companies:
        • 4 visits per week
        • X number of interactions per week (phone/email/visit)
        • MSLs will be out in the field 3 to 4 days per week
        • Key to expectations is flexibility
          • Some MSLs in small geogs some in large, their expectations should be different
          • Some TAs have large number of meetings, some few, so their expectations should be different

–  Mobile technology

  • IPADS is the de-facto mobile tech of today
  • Currently adjunct devices to laptops, NOT replacements
  • Hard to justify on “cost saving” but easy to justify on WOW factor
  • Be careful of SOPs that are linked into the old way of doing things, may need to be re-written to accommodate the tablet
  • User experience is more important on Ipad than on PCs
    • Users have very low tolerance for clunky Ipad interfaces
    • Some other interesting ideas:
      • KOLs are likely to grab the Ipad so make sure everything you don’t want them to see is locked down
      • Ipad syncing is a manual process and may people may avoid, so build in lock outs to programs to force them to update at least monthly
      • 4 Digit standard Ipad passwords stink – they are breakable in minutes, use a much longer password
      • Use  cloud-based apps like DropBox or Google Drive only after being approved by compliance
      • People want to use their Ipads for personal stuff (photos, music, games) and most companies let them use it for that as well
      • Allow people choice in covers and other accessories since it is very personal
      • Have an accessories swap program to allow people to turn in accessories they no longer want and others can use

–  Odds and Ends Ideas

  • Conduct “Office Hours” during major meetings when top CD resources are available in booth so MSLs can introduce their KOLs
  • Compliance ride alongs – if compliance is unsure of an approach, offer to pilot it with them on a ride along so they can see it in action then make a determination
  • Community MSL group focused on non-HCPs, like Advocacy Group

Obviously, this is merely a few key concepts from the day but it should give you some flavor of the type of discussions and the focus of the meeting.

The meeting remains a very positive experience.  One of the key takeaways from today, however, was the desire of the audience to have more time to interact and learn from each other.  A good problem to have!

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