The Challenge of Selecting Advisory Board Members

The world is getting more complex for medical affairs professionals as their role in pharmaceutical companies has turned from a support to a core business function, or as a 2019 McKinsey report calls it the “third strategic pillar for the pharmaceutical enterprise

The drivers behind this change are manifold and include:

  • Greater need for scientific and medical information by the healthcare providers (HCPs) driven by developments in precision medicine, rare diseases drugs, and general treatment approaches with the complex underlying science.
  • Emergence of new data streams, specifically real-world and genomic data that inform medical decision making.
  • Increased focus on delivering patient value and value-based payment models
  • A combination of increasing restrictions on the type of interactions commercial teams can have with HCPs and reduced willingness by the HCPs to grant commercial team members, such as pharmaceutical sales reps, access.

As the role of medical affairs play in a pharmaceutical company expands, their need for information also has skyrocketed. One of the ways to capture that information and bring the external voice inside is through scientific and medical advisory boards.

While advisory boards are neither new nor unique to medical affairs, they are particularly critical for MA teams as they provide non-binding, informed guidance on scientific, medical and business aspects along the entire drug development pipeline. Advisory boards can provide input on questions as varied as clinical strategy, clinical development, unmet medical needs, drug positioning, patient populations best suited for the product, clinical trial protocols and the most appropriate educational materials for their colleagues – to name but a few.

The Biggest Challenge: Finding the Right Advisory Board Members

It won’t come as a huge surprise that the success of an advisory board depends to a high degree on the right mix of participants and diligent preparation of the advisory board meetings, whether they are in person or, increasingly, conducted virtually.

For a quick overview of how to run an efficient advisory board meeting, you can read our blog

Your advisory board needs to be diverse and include advisors that have a variety of skills, experience, and expertise. In an ideal world, the board members should also be good communicators and keep an open mind about their colleagues’ insights and feedback. While diversity is good, you also need to make sure that you create a balanced board where the insights of every member are listened to and valued. One or two heavy-weights, i.e. well-known, sought after international experts, can add a lot of value to a board but can also dominate and with that stifle discussion.

As tempting as it may be, choosing only champions of your product for your advisory board can be limiting. Critical and dissenting opinions will spark discussions and help you understand why some HCPs might have reservations and concerns about your product. Knowing that you can address those concerns proactively.

No wonder then, that selecting the members is the top challenge associated with advisory boards according to a Best Practices benchmarking study.

Who’s on Whose Advisory Board?

Whether you are looking for advisory board members or generally for external experts that have advisory board experience or exactly the opposite, namely KOLs who are not yet on any boards in your therapeutic field of interest, knowing who is on which advisory board is important information. You could ask the experts on your short-list, who might be reluctant to disclose that information, or you could spend hours working on your advanced degree in googling to try and find out.

Alternatively, you can simply look it up on the Monocl platform.

Searching for Advisory Board Members in Monocl

If you read our blog about how to search editorial board members of scientific and medical journals you know all the tricks already. Searching for advisory board members is just as simple and fast:

in a first step, you search for your main keywords, such as a therapeutic field, disease, technique or other MeSH keyword or keywords to come up with a list of experts that meet your most important requirements.

In our example, we are searching for experts that have expertise in breast cancer.

a keyword search will instantly allow you to identify your experts.

On the left-hand side of the screen under “Refine” you can now pick “Board and Positions” to search for members of your list that are either on any board or a specific board by inputting the appropriate information.

Refine your search parameters.

As always, you can now further refine your list, download all of part of it, continue narrowing down your search criteria, resort the data by various criteria and deep dive into the profiles of specific experts.

As with our entire platform, now that the information about advisory boards is added, we will continue to update the information and add new data to ensure that we bring you the most complete and up-to-date information about the experts you are interested in.

To speak with one of our people about how you could use the Monocl platform in your daily work, please schedule a demo.