“When you’re done with your engagement with this physician, jot down a few insights you learned that we might be able to act on.”
This is the guidance many Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) receive before meeting with physicians in the field. It’s organic data-gathering, yes. But as we detailed in The Difference Between Data and Insights, verbatim transcripts of free form conversations with doctors are not medical insights. Nor are notes of those conversations taken to the best of the MSL’s recollection. Those few paragraphs typed into a customer relationship management (CRM) system such as Veeva require analysis. Even then, insights may be few and far between if the questions asked of the doctors are not strategic.
That is, it’s common for MSLs to meet one-on-one with physicians and not know what specific insights Medical Affairs leaders would like to glean. MSLs are also expected to sort through whatever conversations they had and reveal some magic insight to impact Medical Affairs’ strategy. While not an impossible feat, this kind of data collection usually proves unproductive. What’s the alternative?
From Organic Data Collection to Structured Insight Generation
Contrast this organic data collection with a directed, structured process. When we partner with Medical Affairs teams, we ask the leadership team to get involved. Together, we review upcoming events they know are going to occur, such as new data releases, a competitor entering the market, treatment paradigm shifts, or new regulations. What decisions need to be made that MA doesn’t have enough information for yet? We then share these unanswered questions—called “learning objectives”—with the MSLs so they can have a more purposeful HCP engagement.
Typically, medical plans are not written to this level of specificity or detail. But the additional effort is worth it because it makes the MSLs more successful. When they know what data they’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to collect. That data has a much more nuanced level of detail and is, therefore, easier and faster to analyze. As a result, Medical Affairs is now empowered to make insight-driven decisions, leading to more success for the organization.
All because we simply converted must-make decisions and Medical Affairs concerns into specific questions. For example, instead of MSLs asking an infusion center oncologist top-of-their-head questions about telemedicine during COVID-19, the MSLs can ask five or six questions that will fill in Medical Affairs’ knowledge gaps.
Streamline Your CRM
A reconfigured CRM makes structured insight generation a breeze. For our clients, we put everything in one place for MSLs to complete at a glance—the questions Medical Affairs wants to be asked, multiple choice answers, and an additional text box for notes. The CRM collects data points across dozens of each MSL’s physician engagements. Patterns emerge and trends appear. This approach saves time while increasing data quality and quantity.
An added benefit of a reconfigured CRM is the ability to review insight gathering performance. For example, you might see that one MSL is gathering an incredible amount of insights while another is barely collecting any. You see this at a glance. You’re also able to see if one question is not receiving many responses. Is the question confusing? Is it obvious? If obvious, it’s a concern that MSLs are unable to get answers from physicians. That alone is an insight—redirect the field team to invest additional time and effort collecting data points around that specific question.
If you would like to reconfigure your CRM or if you have questions about designing a structured insight generation process, contact Acceleration Point today.