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Four Reasons Medical Affairs Leaders Are Investing in MSL Systems

At Acceleration Point, we rarely talk with a Medical Affairs leader that is not making some sort of investment in a new system.  Many state new systems are becoming required internally to track activity with their KOLs or report on the key metrics of the various Medical Affairs teams.

In a recent study we completed on MSL excellence, there are two responses that on the surface appear at odds with each other:

  • Over 95% of participants stated they were working on a system implementation as part of their strategy.
  • Almost 80% of MSLs stated they were satisfied with their current systems and they made their work lives easier.

However, we believe the disconnect between these two metrics exists due to the reason systems are being implemented.

Top Reasons for New Systems

Many MSL leaders we have talked to are not implementing systems for the purpose of making the MSL’s role easier.  There are four things we consistently hear from leaders:

  1. Compliance – We need to implement a CRM system to track all of our interactions with a KOL and to create an appropriate firewall with commercial.
  2. Value –  MSL leaders are constantly challenged to articulate the value of their MSL teams.  MSL team value was the second most important category captured in our study.  They are implementing systems like CRM, report and analytics to help them capture the value.  However, there is still significant debate on the best way to articulate value of the team.
  3. Performance – MSLs by nature are very high performing individuals.  However, as the role evolves, there are expectations that performance against goals and objectives are measured regularly.  Similar to value, there are usually a handful of systems required to measure performance.
  4. Security – We have noticed that many MSL teams are continuing to use what we would call consumer grade applications.  This appears especially prevalent with document management/slide management solutions.  This level of application comes with some potential compliance and security risks.

These are valid reasons to invest in a system; however, many implementations fail to remember the user in their implementation.  We have worked with numerous organizations to fix their initial system configuration because they did not keep the impact to the MSL at the core of their design principles.  Medical Affairs leaders need to balance achieving their objectives with also installing a system that makes the role of the MSL easier or more effective.

What systems are you implementing and what value will it bring to your MSL users specifically?

Learn more about the other areas Medical Affairs leaders are including in their MSL Excellence strategies by downloading the entire study for free at

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