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Q&A With SVA's DeMarco and Herritz: Medical Affairs Impact

Q&A With DeMarco and Herritz: Medical Affairs Impact and Performance – Practical Guide to Implementation

Across the life sciences industry, many struggle to demonstrate the value of Medical Affairs.

We’ve talked about why it’s important and have seen examples of best practices. But operationally, how do you do it?

Implementation of a MedAffairs Impact and Performance Program requires the shaping of stakeholder perspectives, process, and technology. It requires overcoming objections and carefully managing implementation from ideation through rollout and adoption.

Recently, SVA Life Sciences’ Principals Andrew DeMarco and Jenny Herritz, along with Ryan Irvine, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Hugel Aesthetics, presented a webinar for MAPS (Medical Affairs Professional Society) to discuss the practical techniques for conceptualizing and implementing a MedAffairs Impact and Performance Management Program.

To continue the discussion, Andrew and Jenny answered attendee questions in further detail.

What about evidence generation post-launch? Isn't medical playing a key role post-launch?

DeMarco: Medical Affairs plays a critical role pre- and post-launch as it is uniquely positioned through collaboration with medical experts to understand their opinions and perspectives on available data and needs for clarification. What’s critical is operationalizing the collection of this information through Strategic Insights and Novel Insights so it can be structurally curated regardless of source – MSL, MedInfo, Symposia, etc. Once curated, it may be objectively analyzed and presented by MedAffairs to a cross-functional Evidence Generation Team to prioritize and plot initiatives to generate the most meaningful data for the Medical Community. Too often organizations perform insight collection informally. Hard data on medical community opinions can mute the loudest voices in the room when making important decisions about where to invest in data generation activities or identifying follow-on questions MSLs may need to pursue.

Herritz: Post-launch is the most important time to define, communicate, and then measure progress toward Medical Affairs goals. Pre-launch, the broader organization understands that Medical is out in the field preparing the market with education and collecting insights. At launch, the attention of the organization shifts to Commercial. Medical continues to support the launch, but then often doubles down on the strategy and shifts to the next initiative(s). Medical’s ability to form and communicate initiatives – then measure the progress within the initiative – becomes critical to the organization understanding the multi-threaded strategy required of medical affairs after launch.

How do you motivate medical members (overcome resistance) to generate data for MedAffairs activity/impact measurements (e.g., CRM use)?

DeMarco: In our experience, resistance comes from a group of highly qualified, well-educated, and dynamic individuals who have unfortunately been measured on their level of activity. Would that motivate you? Instead, we are asking MSLs to generate relevant, valuable data that will be used across functions, Medical Affairs, Commercial, Clinical and, even corporately, to inform strategies and plans. It’s a critical paradigm shift that needs to be communicated and reinforced constantly to break the norms that unfortunately exist in our industry.

Herritz: The solution needs to be something that helps MSLs, doesn’t simply measure their activity or performance. Giving the MSLs a tool that lets them adapt their approach to conversations based on knowledge of the KOL helps them have more meaningful interactions. Done correctly, the tool should assist the MSLs in their day-to-day interactions, and also give Medical Affairs a common goal and sense of team as they work toward it together.

What is the best way for MSLs to use digital technology around insight dissemination and digestion? It's a lot of information to make sense of.

DeMarco: The impact and performance dashboards and analytics we are proposing are largely consumed by Medical Affairs Leaders. It is important to solicit the input and analysis of MSLs of this data to get the most value from it. They are on the front line so make the dashboards and analytics available to them.

Herritz: People tend to get caught up in fancy dissemination and analysis. Setting up some simple categorization – of insights, conversations, initiatives, and medical experts – enables MSLs to group the data and find trends. For example, slicing alignment data based on specialty, geographic area, or social influence of a KOL can reveal trends in like thinking.

What criteria are you using to determine IF a KOL is now a "scientific advocate"?

DeMarco: In practice, it depends upon the unique situation of each organization, indication, and Medical Expert population they have prioritized. In general, advocacy involves a score of Medical Expert activity around authoring publications, clinical trial participation, consulting arrangements, guidelines, speaking from the podium, and digital presence to name a few. Fortunately, this data is now more readily available through sources like Veeva Link, Monacle, and Komodo to name a few. The key is integrating this data with CRM, Medical Information, and other data and using scoring algorithms to create a real-world view of an individual Medical Expert’s relative level of advocacy.

Herritz: It’s a worthwhile exercise to define “advocacy” up front. In addition, a review of the relevance is also important. Authoring a publication means the KOL has reach; authoring in a therapeutic area different than your organization’s target may mean that reach has limited relevance.

How is your approach different for Digital Opinion Leaders?

DeMarco: This is a rapidly emerging distinction of Medical Experts. In short, the impact and performance approach absolutely needs to distinguish between traditional thought leaders and those who are most prominent on social media. Fortunately, companies like Veeva Link and others are sourcing data from Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sources to identify Medical Expert activity on very specific topics. It’s a critical component.

Herritz: Social reach is much faster and often more prolific than traditional methods of connecting. Using social influence as one of the categories or factors of a KOL allows us to hone the approach. The approach for someone with a far social reach and is aligned with your message will be very different than someone with a far reach that is not even aware of your message. Digital also gives us a view into how far that reach goes. For example, with Twitter, we not only know who has tweeted about a given subject, but we know how many people and who has retweeted that message. It’s a data geek’s dream come true!

There has been some great discussion about changing the scientific narrative. Are there ways to correlate advocacy to actual behavior change where it matters most for the patient…clinical practice behaviors?

DeMarco: We should be a bit careful here. Medical Affairs is establishing an environment in the Medical Community that advanced patient success for their chosen indication. In simplistic terms, we can summarize as right therapeutic decisions for the right patient at the right time. Clinical practice behaviors are most appropriately advanced by the commercial organization. However, what Medical Affairs can do with a rich set of data is identify trends, emerging issues, and information needs for the Medical Community to maximize patient success.

Are you referring to Artificial intelligence to do this data management and analysis?

Herritz: AI is a hot topic and has a lot of promise. The primary barriers to measuring the impact of Medical Affairs won’t be addressed by AI – the root causes are lack of communication, a shared vision, sometimes systems that aren’t configured to capture the data or are too cumbersome for MSLs and others to use. Where AI can be really interesting is in the use of algorithms to predict patient patterns or even in diagnostics, and there are companies that are doing some pretty cool stuff in this area.

How do you measure? Practically? Realistically? How do you "show value"?

DeMarco: Ensure an appropriate population in the Medical Community is aware of current and relevant scientific data, aligned with key points that advance patient success and a subset who are responsibly advocating those key points as traditional key opinion leaders, digital opinion leaders, and even at the community or practice-setting level with colleagues. Name of the game is always the advancement of successful patients on most appropriate therapies.

Herritz: Keeping track of the points above and the progression of those measures shows progress toward goals. State the goal and how you will measure it, then show the progress. If the organization felt the goal was valuable to obtain, the numbers will speak for themselves.

You can view the recording of the webinar in its entirety at: https://medicalaffairs.org/medical-affairs-impact-performance-management-practical-guide/.

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Authored by: SVA Life Sciences

Authored by SVA Life Sciences

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