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Calculating the Value of Medical Affairs

Jan 12, 2021

Acceleration Point recently completed a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Excellence Study. The term “MSL Excellence” has become commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry. MSL Excellence generally consists of projects focused on MSL team impact. Specifically, that means achieving medical goals, engaging the medical community in relevant ways, and improving patient outcomes.

Our study focused not only on how Medical Affairs are pursuing MSL Excellence initially but on a much broader question—why. The overwhelming majority of MSL team leaders who responded are concerned about the standing of Medical Affairs within the company. One of their greatest concerns is communicating their impact.

In fact, 91 percent of Medical Affairs leaders are focused on showing the value of their organization. A significant number (87 percent) are determined to improve their metrics and KPIs. Adjacent to that concern is identifying the right metrics and KPIs that measure Medical Affairs value in the first place. What are they? This question is not as easy as it first seems. But it’s essential. No one wants to miss out on the right way to objectively communicate impact.

Leaders know Medical Affairs has significant value, but measuring the effect on the financial success of the organization is not always simple. Many organizations get stuck in the cycle of trying to prove their value. Medical affairs can sometimes exacerbate the situation. Here’s how.

Many Medical Affairs leaders we interviewed have gone about redefining value itself. The true financial value of any team is their ability to generate revenue or profit for the organization. That means the end result, profit or revenue, drives value. If a team’s activities are not resulting in these financial outcomes, they are not adding value.

Why redefine value? Because the work of Medical Affairs is not directly attributed to sales outcomes. In fact, from a compliance perspective, there are regulations in place that prevent it. The leaders we spoke with told us it simply seemed better to redefine value by emphasizing effort over outcome. But that isn’t value.

Fortunately, when polling senior pharmaceutical leaders there is an understanding that while not directly attributable, the work of medical affairs certainly contributes to the overall success of the brand. The Medical Affairs leaders we polled are aware of these but had not considered them proxies for revenue or profit. We’re referring to inherently valuable tasks that can be measured (and therefore managed), including:

  • Disseminating scientific data to payers, KOLs, patients, and advocacy communities
  • Executing company-sponsored studies and supporting investigator-sponsored studies
  • Educating the medical and scientific community through peer-reviewed publications
  • Developing relationships with healthcare providers and answering medical questions to enhance patient care
  • Providing fair and balanced data to payers, regulators, and institutional leaders
  • Conducting health economics and outcomes-research related to their products
  • Responding to information requests for off-label or off-indication products

All these activities have their own benefits. However, each organization is slightly different. It’s not practical to have a step-by-step way of calculating the value that works exactly the same for every Medical Affairs organization. If, however, value is the intention from the outset, it will come across as authentic.

Whether you are sharing the science behind a new product launch or presenting information on the newest treatments, do what works best for your organization. And move past the idea that you “have to” prove you are offering value. It is clear that Medical Affairs adds value in many ways. Instead, find a specific set of activity metrics that articulates that value in an economically obvious yet compliant way. That list above will get you started.

And if you’d like help identifying the metrics that matter uniquely to your organization, reach out to Acceleration Point today. We offer Medical Affairs the support you need to figure it all out.

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