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The Difference Between Data and Insights | Medical Insight Generation

Along with data generation and data dissemination, insight generation is a top Medical Affairs (MA) priority. It’s also one of the primary jobs of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs), who are engaging with KOLs every day and are best positioned to understand their views. What concerns do KOLs have about existing treatments? What is influencing their prescribing behaviors? What data gaps exist in the current literature? 

Every engagement with an HCP should result in learning something about that HCP’s mindset. After each engagement, these data points need to be shared with the broader Medical Affairs team. This is done by entering this data into your customer relationship management (CRM) system (such as Veeva or OCE). 

Notice I say data, not insights. Additional analysis is required before conversations with HCPs can reveal insights. In our view, this is worth stating in no uncertain terms—data points are not medical insights. So what exactly is the difference between medical engagement data and medical insights?

  • Data: Verbatim notes from MSLs’ conversations with HCPs captured through multiple channels
  • Patterns: Discovered by analyzing the data for commonalities across HCPs, by specialty, by geography, or by other demographics about the KOL.
  • Insights: Is the discovery of patterns that impact your Medical Affairs strategy. 

Often, MSLs hope to discover a “magic” nugget of insight among thousands of data points collected from HCP engagements. However, the role of MSLs is to bring in this data. Only when the vast data is gathered and analyzed do patterns appear. Those patterns are analyzed and then discussed across a broader group of stakeholders until they are developed clear enough that action can be taken. Now you have an insight. The more data points, the more opportunities for insights that can impact your strategy. Only when the patterns and trends identified to lead to actions that add value, impact your medical strategy, and improve patient outcomes are these considered medical insights.

Data Points Versus Medical Insights: An Example

At the time of this writing, many MSLs are hearing HCPs say that they plan to continue telemedicine after COVID-19. That single data point is not an insight, even if thirty or forty MSLs record it 200 times in their CRM. Simply knowing that HCPs intend to schedule fewer office hours is not actionable data. Regularly meeting with doctors is essential to Medical Affairs teams and gaining insight on how to ensure these meetings continue is key. How do MSLs reach that insight? By asking poignant questions.

What valuable data could MSLs gather as it relates to telemedicine? For example, MSLs could ask HCPs how many days a week they are meeting patients on-site and how many they are working remotely. What social distancing measures are they using within hospitals, clinics, waiting rooms? How are you treating patients that typically require face-to-face appointments? Are you going to be able to continue the study you are participating in? How are you going to share findings of data or learn about what others are doing if live congresses are getting canceled? These questions bring in data that allows medical affairs to reveal patterns. Those patterns can lead to insights about adjustments needed to publication plans, engagement strategies, clinical trials, and overall patient care. Better questions, more useful data, better insights

Granted, analyzing doctors’ answers, producing insights, acting upon them, and holding all MA team members accountable for doing so is more complex than wording questions a certain way. In-house medical operations teams, or external partners like Acceleration Point, can work with you to leverage the data you’re already gathering to improve your organization’s strategy. Transforming MSL-HCP conversations into data that lead to actionable lessons does not have to consume your precious resources.

If you would like to learn more about guided insight generation to help your Medical Science Liaisons turn conversations with doctors into actionable insights, contact Acceleration Point today.

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