Defining the right key performance indicators (KPIs) and formalising metrics to demonstrate how Medical Affairs teams’ drive forward the organisation’s strategic priorities has been a longtime challenge.
However, attending the recent Medical Science Liaison Association (MSLA) Congress 2023 shed light on evolving approaches to address this challenge and redefine the role of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) in driving patient-centric outcomes.
This article explores the insights offered by the congress and highlights the importance of reevaluating KPIs in Medical Affairs to demonstrate their value to the organisation.
The dilemma in Medical Affairs
While commercial colleagues can align their KPIs with sales revenue or regulatory approvals, the medical team faces a more intricate task. With a primary focus on improving patient outcomes, defining and measuring the impact of their activities, conversations and programmes becomes a significant challenge. The question of how to demonstrate the value of Medical Affairs teams in a compliant and meaningful way represents a dilemma for pharmaceutical companies and biotech.
Shifting perspectives: value appraisal in 2023 and beyond
A paradigm shift is required in how pharmaceutical organisations assess people and activities to address the value appraisal challenges. In 2023 and beyond, vanity metrics such as impressions, conversion rates, referrals and opt-ins must be replaced with measures that directly reflect patient outcomes, stakeholder responses, satisfaction, and continuous learning. These surrogate measures can be qualitatively surveyed and quantified, enabling a more comprehensive evaluation of Medical Affairs’ impact.
Quantitative and qualitative metrics for Medical Affairs
During the MSLA Congress 2023, the importance of fostering deep and meaningful physician relationships emerged as a critical factor in measuring success. Rather than pursuing broad connections, the focus shifted to capturing the depth of these relationships. Leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) systems, Medical Affairs can now capture and evaluate qualitative indicators, providing a robust framework for demonstrating the impact of their initiatives.
Quantitative metrics may include, where relevant:
- # scientific interactions – average amount of time/scientific interaction
- # KOLs on the roster
- # investigators/study sites identified
- # medical information requests responded to
- # insights gathered/generated
- # days in the field
- # speaker trainings completed
Qualitative metrics can be more reflective of the impact:
- Identified actionable insights – the actions taken to improve patient outcomes, and the effects or results of those actions
- Situation-action-impact narratives (often includes a change in HCP practice behaviours)
- KOL feedback – using survey methodology to understand the impact of the interactions and relationships with KOLs)
- Facilitation of company-sponsored or independent research studies
- Medical project support provided
- Execution of field medical plan objectives
Future Medical Affairs teams will combine quantitative and qualitative metrics to measure success and report not only what they do but the value generated to patients and the organisation.
MSLs: catalysts for change?
One of the most inspiring aspects of the MSLA Congress 2023 was the emerging role of MSLs as catalysts for change within the pharmaceutical industry. These highly accountable professionals are challenging the status quo and seeking innovative ways to add value beyond meeting metrics. MSLs are expanding and evolving their roles, which raises the question, will the MSL become the most important person in pharma? Their customer-centric initiatives and support in patient identification, disease education, class growth, local guidelines adoption, clinical trial assistance, protocol pathway solutions, care pathway improvements, formulary access and evidence generation directly impact patient outcomes. This proactive approach positions the Medical Affairs team as key contributors to the business, the third strategic pillar alongside clinical and commercial teams.
Attending the MSLA Congress 2023 offered invaluable insights into redefining KPIs in Medical Affairs and the transformative role of MSLs. Organisations can better evaluate the impact of medical teams’ efforts by shifting the focus from vanity metrics to patient-centric outcomes. By embracing the visionary approach of MSLs and their commitment to ethical stewardship, the pharmaceutical industry can move closer to a future where patient care takes centre stage. With this newfound perspective, Medical Affairs can position themselves as indispensable strategic partners, working in tandem with clinical research and commercial activities to drive sustainable success and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
If you have any questions or would like to hear more from our Medical team, reach out to Jo Pearson via email.