Pharma 2021 (formerly eyeforpharma Barcelona)

Oct 12, 2021 - Oct 22, 2021, Digital Conference, Exhibition & Networking

Meet decision-makers from across the entire value chain, with 2000+ leaders from commercial, marketing, digital, patient engagement and advocacy, clinical development, medical affairs, market access, RWE and more. You can’t miss it.

Redefining the role of the MSL in a changed world

MSLs will need to respond to the growing demands being placed on them in the new normal by adopting new approaches, capabilities and skill sets



As a key strategic function, the importance of the insights MSLs offer and the work they do today has never been greater. 
 
In the era of increasingly complex treatments such as cell and gene therapies, vaccines, and immuno-oncology therapies, the role of MSLs has become more central as the need for education and scientific exchange continues to grow.
 
And the growing demand for MSL expertise has included an expanding set of internal and external stakeholders, not to mention the increasing complexity of their eco system, says Amy Van Sant, President, Medical Affairs, Ashfield Engage. 
 
“From competitive intelligence to congress management, clinical and educational initiatives, as well as scientific content management, MSLs are working incredibly hard to meet key objectives, key deliverables and the changing needs of customers.”
 
New challenges
Accelerated by the pandemic, MSLs have had to tailor their approach to virtual and more on-demand engagement, adds Van Sant.
 
These new approaches to engagement pose new challenges as HCPs are now being deluged with digital information. On the one hand, this may make them less receptive to information from MSLs. On the other, it creates new demands on MSLs to help HCPs make sense of it all, says José Antonio Burón Vidal, Regional Medical Head, Europe, Novartis.
 
“I'm not sure the clinicians necessarily want more information from the MSL now. Rather, what the clinicians are interested in is, ‘Can you help me to make sense of all of these data? Can you help me to integrate the 20 publications that I've seen? Can you help me to connect this with my patient needs and outcomes?’”
 
A further challenge in the current environment is how to create and sustain relationships with HCPs you cannot meet in person. Furthermore, it is clear that HCPs often prefer email communication, making it potentially tricky to cultivate meaningful relationships, says Judy Kando, VP, Head of Medical and Clinical, Tris Pharma.
 
“MSLs report that it's become more difficult to establish virtual relationships where there is a new KOL or HCP and you have no relationship with them. Particularly now, and for the foreseeable future, these relationships are going to be virtual. It's been a bit challenging to adapt.”
 
It all amounts to a great deal for MSLs to balance, says Van Sant. “They're trying to address so many things at once. Now that they're seeing people virtually, everything from their approach to resources, to the way things are presented, to the amount of information that’s provided seems to be evolving. To continue to be successful, MSLs are considering these changes holistically.”
 
With such adversity comes opportunity. MSLs that can adapt appropriately can become even more trusted sources for HCPs and KOLs, says Burón Vidal. “They need someone to listen, to challenge the assumptions and propose ‘let's look at your data’. A bidirectional communication…this ability to sit down, listen and understand what's going on in your field and what can you do for that patient that's very human, unique.”
 
How is the role of the MSL evolving in Pharma optimally in order to respond to the changing needs of the HCPs? 
 
Through an agile and flexible approach 
By combining their knowledge and expertise - not only of the science, but also of the business – MSLs have an in-depth understanding of therapies and how they ultimately impact patient outcomes. “That’s where flexibility and adaptability comes in,” says Kando. 
 
In fact, MSLs’ ability to build, maintain and evolve relationships is going to be an increasingly strategic capability, says Richard Crookes, Principal, Performance Director, Ashfield Engage. “They’re going to need to be more agile in their engagement skills. The MSL’s role of uncovering information that leads to real insights that inform both relationships and medical strategy and planning will only increase in terms of importance going forward.”
 
Through an evidence-based approach
With such a large range of demands being placed on MSLs, there is an increasingly compelling argument for taking a structured approach to engagement, by defining insights that will lead to outcomes or change behaviour. 
 
A data-led approach that can help track meaningful insights and trends, is going to be increasingly useful in driving medical strategy in the organisation, says Van Sant. “Analysing insights in a more streamlined and structured way and a thorough understanding of insights is a significant opportunity.”
 
Through enhanced skills and training
Increasingly, more emphasis on the MSL role to build and maintain meaningful relationships has led to MSLs requiring even better engagement and interaction skills, says Crookes. “Probably the most important element here is training, coaching and mentoring. How are we coaching and supporting MSLs to develop their soft skills?”
 
Recruiting for and nurturing the right skill sets
The MSLs of today and tomorrow need to be capable of capturing insights and understanding the full picture as well as being a good communicator, says Burón Vidal. “They need to be great listeners and have the strategic thinking to read between what's going on and [understand how they] can support the clinicians better.
 
“When I'm recruiting for MSLs, it is a combination of science and passion about communication. It’s meaningful to find MSLs that love to be in front of other clinicians, colleagues, scientists, and who thinks strategically, challenges the paradigm, and understands the impact on patient outcomes, and enjoys doing that.”
 
Having the range of skills and also the willingness to work with a broad group of stakeholders is an increasingly key competence, says Suzanne Giordano, VP, Head of Field Medical, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.
 
“Flexibility is really key, as the diversity of customers and stakeholders increases, you have to understand those needs and put them into context. So not just the researchers in the academic world, but also KOLs, people in health systems, payers, patients, and advocacy groups. 
 
“To be able to take that information and put it into context for a variety of stakeholders is really a skill. And if you have that passion around helping HCPs along with that scientific expertise, those are the people who are going to really shine.”
 

Since you're here...
... and value our content, you should sign-up to our newsletter. Sign up here

Pharma 2021 (formerly eyeforpharma Barcelona)

Oct 12, 2021 - Oct 22, 2021, Digital Conference, Exhibition & Networking

Meet decision-makers from across the entire value chain, with 2000+ leaders from commercial, marketing, digital, patient engagement and advocacy, clinical development, medical affairs, market access, RWE and more. You can’t miss it.