Medical affairs have undergone a sea of change over the last decade by evolving from a siloed and highly operational into a critical strategic function. As a consequence expectations have evolved and the nature of engagement with experts has changed as well. The remit of engagement has moved past a one-sided approach focused on the needs of the company to a balanced one that tries to understand and flexibly react to the scientific needs and preferences of external experts. The long-term goal is to build relationships in a way that benefits the ultimate customers of both the life science company and the healthcare provider: the patient.
Expert engagement takes many different forms and plans can be structured to deliver impact and insight geographically, by a particular scientific focus, or shared mission. What is more, field medical is not the only group engaging external experts, commercial teams, clinical operations, and R&D are also vying for external experts’ time. Coordinating and managing the multitude of these engagements fast becomes challenging at best and, at worst, impossible.
One of the biggest pain points for life science companies therefore is engagement management. Starting with how to best collect, organize, analyze, and share information between different groups, to how to use that information to align engagement plans with medical strategy. Expert engagement also needs to be coordinated between teams and geographies in a way that ensures that all relevant professionals have visibility into the information and the organization therefore operates based on a common truth with regards to expert engagement.
The state of engagement management
Current approaches to engagement management are fractured and driven functionally. This leads to disjointed efforts characterized by the lack of alignment on both the strategic and tactical levels. In other words: functional groups often have no line of sight into whether, and if so, how a specific expert is engaged by other groups and field-based teams lack visibility into the expert related activities undertaken at headquarters.
Information about experts and activities are collected in a scattered way, in siloed systems such as Excel spreadsheets, CRMs, emails and call notes that cannot easily be shared and often require time-consuming manual updates. Experience shows that such unstructured and inconvenient systems end up not being used and that critically important information can easily be overlooked or lost, e.g. if a team member leaves the company.
From the expert’s perspective these engagement activities appear uncoordinated and often fail to deliver against their scientific needs. It is therefore no surprise that only one in three experts are satisfied with their engagement experience and that these fractured engagement efforts can negatively impact experts’ opinions about the company and its compounds.
Increasing the impact of engagement
Addressing these challenges is difficult and multifaceted but first and foremost it requires a purpose-built knowledge management system, that enables strategic engagement planning across global portfolios in a harmonized and transparent manner, with all of the following features:
- User-friendly interface designed for easy data entry and sharing of information in the cloud.
- Accessible to all individuals who need visibility into expert engagement planning
- Designed to allow dynamic collaboration and coordination of engagement activities across teams, functions and geographies in real time.
- Complete with reporting and analytics capabilities that quickly generate insights into which engagement strategies are successful and which need to be adjusted
- Provides tiered access to ensure teams collaborate in a compliant manner
- Comes enriched with expert-related data such as information about publications, speaking engagements, funding and board positions that paint a detailed picture of an expert’s professional profile and activities.
Such a system allows for coordinating engagement activities and can address many of the most pressing challenges medical affairs and commercial teams face, specifically:
- Aligning engagement planning with the company’s medical strategy and therapeutic goals to ensure long-term strategic success.
- Coordinating engagement planning and harmonizing activities around specific experts by sharing plans across functions and geographies.
- Coordinating engagement of experts across functions to provide a seamless experience for the experts to increase satisfaction and the expert’s willingness to engage.
- Measuring the impact of all engagement activities on an expert level. Being able to do so allows for flexible adjustment that maximize benefit for both the expert and the company.
- Measuring and demonstrating the value and impact medical affairs in general and field medical in particular bring to the organization by analyzing the impact of engagement activities.
- Sharing insights gained from expert engagement quickly and efficiently with relevant cross-functional colleagues.
- Providing feedback to field medical about the importance and impact of their insights, e.g. an adjustment made to a medical strategic plan.
- Keeping up-to-date on experts’ activities to develop and pivot engagement plans based on their evolving scientific needs.
Better, coordinated engagement planning is a critical success factor not just for medical affairs. All teams from R&D to commercial stand to benefit from closer strategic alignment, tighter collaboration and real-time sharing of information and insights.
Challenges with Expert Engagement - An Example
The following example illustrates one of the many potential risks of imperfect engagement coordination: too many demands on a single expert.
While an MSL might work with an expert on a scientific publication, a commercial colleague might engage the same expert as a promotional speaker, all while medical affairs leadership is trying to secure the expert for a strategically important advisory board – with neither one of these groups knowing about the others’ activities. In addition to potentially overwhelming the expert with requests, there is a real risk that the spending cap for that expert is reached with low impact engagement which makes it impossible to engage the expert for strategically important activities. Coordination of all planned engagement allows for prioritization and avoids a scenario where early low impact engagement preempts high impact engagement down the road.
Importantly, harmonized engagement maximizes the value of the interaction for external experts and with that their satisfaction an willingness to engage further.
While the need for such an advanced knowledge management system is broadly acknowledged within the life science industry, no purpose-built system capable of delivering flexible, dynamic and integrated strategic engagement planning has existed - until now.
Introducing Monocl Engage
With Monocl Engage we introduce a knowledge management and engagement planning system that addresses all these well-known pain points and gives global teams the tool they need to coordinate and align their engagement activities. Monocl Engage is seamlessly integrated with Monocl Professional, our comprehensive expert database and together these two synergistic solutions provide significant value from day 1.
Teams can use Monocl Professional to identify and deep profile the right experts and then rely on Monocl Engage to coordinate management and alignment of their engagement activities with their cross-functional colleagues worldwide. New information about an expert is automatically captured in Monocl Professional and can inform future engagement. Together Monocl Engage and Monocl Professional ensure that life science professionals engage the right experts in a transparent and compliant environment that allows them to share information, coordinate activities and meet the experts’ scientific needs in a seamless and coordinated manner.
If this leaves you wanting more information, one of our team members is happy to demo Monocl Engage and answer your questions. Please get in touch here.