In the Pharma Industry, one of the critical functions Medical Liaisons are responsible for is distilling and interpreting scientific data and communicating it to a broad audience of healthcare practitioners. Whether key opinion leaders (KOLs), payers, or policymakers, the ultimate goal is to communicate effectively to ultimately improve patient care; no one does that better! But assuming we’re communicating this information to the right people can be a challenge. The big question is “How can we determine we’re connecting with the right audiences?”
One very objective way is by using Medical Affairs data and analytics to gather insight in ways that help drive scientific impact. A lot of metrics, both qualitative and quantitative, have been developed over the years for that purpose. While some miss the mark, others help drive meaningful improvements, such as evidence-based changes in formulary decisions, patient outcomes, or optimal use via medical policy guidelines.
But, again, the question is, “How?” How can you help drive those changes? How can you identify the right individuals to work with to help effect change? To begin with, analyzing your engagement patterns, is a good place to start.
Pharmaspectra developed this gap analysis for one of its clients to analyze interactions with 50 of its KOLs as an objective, strategic tool. The X-axis represents field medical engagements. The Y-axis represents scientific contributor standing in terms of output (quantity of publications or presentations for a specific therapeutic area) and impact measurements (institutional reputation and journal impact factors).
Contributors’ results, the blue line, is based upon their share of scientific voice (SoSV). It represents your scientific/medical imperative or objective that you are driving and evaluating. As the red lines indicate, there is a significant gap between the actual focus of interactions and impact. This client was expending significant energy and resources for low potential engagement and not enough for high potential engagement. By doing so, they were missing opportunities to connect with the experts who may have greater influence and, therefore, the ability to engage them on their imperatives and help make a difference.
Importantly, SoSV is more than a mere number of mentions across publications or presentations. It can also track the qualitative dissemination of substantive intelligence that is based upon your strategic medical imperatives. With this data, Medical Liaisons can identify KOLs focused on specific medical imperatives through the evidence they publish in the medical literature or present at various congresses and also do the same by specific product or company.
For example, disease progression in neurology, whether in Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, or Multiple Sclerosis, can be a key indicator of long-term efficacy and an important imperative for communication-based on your clinical trial data. By designing the right search strategy and applying it to the medical/scientific landscape, not only can you see who is focused on this imperative, but also then analyze their evidence for such information as serum biomarkers which differentiate between patients with progressive vs. non-progressive disease stages, etc.
SoSV can be applied to analyze multiple aspects of a scientific communications platform. In this example, we analyzed engagements and outcomes for KOLs authoring papers and presenting at specific congresses. In other instances, we can analyze the share of scientific voice from multiple congresses or journals for a broad and current overview; from a single congress for a snapshot in time; or a specific congress year after year to develop trendlines. You can develop trends for authors, too, and determine whether their interests in your data are shifting over time, as well as how they compare to other KOLs.
So, as we’ve seen above, Medical Affairs analytics can help your team identify data, trends, and potential gaps that may be in your current plan and activities. With such information in hand, your team can now revise strategy and tactics and re-chart their course to ensure you are maximizing engagement with respect to your medical imperatives and use this “direction” as a key metric in gauging your value and success objectively both individually and as a team.
To illustrate this further, let’s now have a look at an example where your team might work in concert with your Scientific Communications colleagues assessing a therapeutic cohort or class of products for a specific disease.
First, as with any analysis, we establish a baseline view of the products within the landscape and recent activities in the specific therapeutic area (TA) to set meaningful goals and gain insights for strategic planning and opportunities for success.
In this chart, the focus is on five products within your TA. Looking at Journals, we see that our product has a 22% SoSV and a 23% weighted SoSV (impact) among journals. Efforts at conferences, however, could use improvement with a 16% SoSV and a 23% weighted SoSV.
Our weighted score among the top-20 authors and presenters at conferences is 50.04 and 46.12 respectively, quite good among the competitive cohort.
A look at Product A shows a significantly better SoSV across the board, but it isn’t having as much impact as it should. For both publications and conferences, the SoSV is considerably higher respectively – than the wSoSV. That’s a clear indication that they need to change their strategy by submitting their evidence to more impactful journals and conferences.
Product C, in contrast, uses currently less eminent KOLs than our product or Product A. It has only an 8% SoSV but 35% wSoSV for journals, and a similar, though less dramatic spread for conferences. Studying SoSV and wSoSV shows that they are achieving outstanding results from their efforts. Why? They are simply maximizing their efforts in evidence dissemination by assuring publication in higher impact journals and acceptance at reasonably impactful conferences. A deeper analysis may reveal that product C is newly launched or solves a great unmet need ()improved dosage form, lower incidence of side effects, etc.). Its KOLs may also be up-and-coming scientists who are just making their reputations in the field known. Whatever the story, the Medical Affairs team managing product C is doing an excellent job at maximizing its overall scientific impact given its relatively low SoSV. The opportunity for team product C may be to expand its engagement across KOLs, including a larger group of top experts.
Applying such information to establishing or re-evaluating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can now contribute to a more complete analysis that sets the stage for more impactful SoSV. For example, identifying KOLs based upon their impact and SoSV can help you collaborate with more impactful experts, and target more impactful journals and conferences within your TA.
To do that, however, you need a performance plan that incorporates SoSV into your KPIs. The chart below lists some examples of KPIs for a Field Medical team.
Two of the KPIs (blue) are to engage with five of the top journal authors or congress presenters not presently working with the Medical Affairs data generation team. To do this, you must first identify the leading experts and the impact they are having (weighted SoSV) which would have been used to compile the previous table. This will provide an objective view of their output and performance which is important in order to support your recommendations to the team.
The next KPIs (orange) aims for an improvement for your product in a journal and congress SoSV among the therapeutic cohort or class. They demonstrate the results of your efforts with assigned KOLs and collaboration with your Scientific Communications colleagues. Once those results are achieved, you can now very clearly demonstrate strategic value to your organization and overall Medical Affairs team.
With such substantive data for your efforts, you can also regularly review information on how your team is progressing, and gain insights and historic trends to shape your ongoing tactics and strategy. Consequently, there is timely, objective, and comprehensive data to support any adjustments to your plans.
Additionally, when you and your team undergo annual performance reviews, you have hard, objective data that shows the impact of your work as well as data to support your future course of action, decision-making, and even your reward!
Overall, factoring Medical Affairs analytics such as SoSV into a company’s strategic planning can help build and amplify relationships with KOLs, accelerate education and awareness around specific scientific imperatives, unify strategies and drive collaboration while providing visibility into the positive outcome of your efforts.
Joseph B. Laudano, BS Pharm, PharmD
Joseph B. Laudano, is Vice President, Medical Affairs at Pharmaspectra LLC. Joe has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Before joining Pharmaspectra, he was Vice President of Medical Affairs at Alliqua Biomedical. Before joining Alliqua Biomedical, he was Senior Director of Medical Affairs and head of Publication Planning at Forest Research Institute. Prior to this he spent 21 years at Roche Laboratories U.S. in Medical Affairs and Marketing in various roles including; Director of Medical Information, Product Director, and Medical Science Liaison. He was Roche’s first Medical Science Liaison, covering major institutions for the whole country and paved the way for the creation of an entire team. Joe has extensive research experience in several different therapeutic areas including infectious diseases, dermatology, and oncology, and has authored numerous publications and scientific posters.
Gail Dutton, BS
Gail Dutton has covered the business of life science for more than three decades, writing about the evolution of biotechnology, management trends, human resources development, and related topics. Her writing has appeared in more than 45 print and online publications, including Genetic Engineering News, BioSpace, and Life Science Leader. She has presented to the National Defense University and the Genopole Paris conference and is particularly interested in new technologies driving innovation throughout the enterprise.