There are a lot of new things that you have to learn when you first break into the MSL role. It can be a bit overwhelming when you’re also trying to learn about disease states, novel products, and what seems like every SOP ever written at your new company. But there are a few tools that you can use that will make your life a bit easier, which are detailed in this article. This article is focused on computer apps and add-ons, as well as email features. It’s important to note that while these can be effective, there are certain companies that will not allow such apps to be downloaded if there are restrictions in place. In such instances, compliance always comes first, and you must conform to your company’s regulations. However, even institutions where are strict regulations in place, many of these tools can apply.
Apps & Add-Ons:
- Outlook Web App
- If you’re a die-hard Gmail user like me and all of a sudden find yourself in the world of Microsoft Outlook, this can be a useful tool for you. Outlook has a web version called Outlook Web App, which is much more similar to Gmail. It allows you to customize background and various settings, which can be easier to navigate for some people (like me!). While there is more limited functionality that you can find on the Desktop version, the vast majority of daily email capabilities are allowed.
- This is a useful email add-on for various functions. These are the primary reasons why I use this app:
- Schedule emails
- There are times when I write out a message, but don’t want to actually send it till later. Sometimes, I’ll write out an email on a Friday afternoon, but I know that it’s unlikely that my email will be read if it send it immediately before a weekend. So, I’ll schedule it to go out on Monday morning, so that I have a better response rate.
- Pause Inbox
- If you’re bombarded with emails and can’t focus on the task at hand with constant interruptions, this feature allows you to pause your inbox for a period of time.
- Return message to Inbox
- This is where I find this app to be primarily useful. For instance, if I want to see an email later (e.g. the following week), I can have it sent back to my inbox. It can also be useful if you email a KOL and want to make sure to follow-up in a week if he/she doesn’t reply.
- Trello can be helpful if you need a way to stay organized. In addition to the website, it’s also available as an email add-on. It allows you to organize your tasks and create checklists with deadlines if you need. You can also share Boards with other team members if you’re working on a group project.
- Note that Teams has a similar feature (Teams/Tasks), so if your company uses Microsoft, that can be an option as well.
- Many organizations use Salesforce or other CRMs to manage KOLs. If you use Salesforce to log calls/meetings, there is an email add-on that can make it easy to log meetings and also obtain contact info and account details for KOLs.
- It’s no secret that MSLs travel A LOT! It can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’re new to the position, to manage the travel with your other responsibilities. TripIt is an app from Concur, which is used by various organizations to submit expense reports. TripIt can help organize travel and can connect to other apps to automatically load details about flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.
- OneNote is also a part of Microsoft and can be useful for organization. I use Section Groups as an easy way to organize multiple meetings with various KOLs at each institution. There are also To Do checkboxes as well as other marks to keep track of your tasks (Approve, Important, Question, etc.)
- Ad Blocker Extensions
- I added this at the end because it’s an extension to your browser. You can use various ad blockers to stop ads and pop-ups, which can be especially useful while watching YouTube videos.
This section highlights features that can be helpful while communicating, but don’t require any apps or add-ons.
- Reply All by Meeting to schedule a meeting after receiving an email
- If you need to schedule a meeting in response to an email, use this feature
- Can also use this and add time to your calendar to work on something (just remove all email invite recipients)
- Schedule email messages to be sent later. This allows you to compose and send a message now, but have it delivered to the recipient at a later date/time. Note: this accomplished the same function as Boomerang (listed above).
- Schedule texts
- If you use the Google Messages app on your Android phone, you can schedule texts – press and hold the send button to schedule a text
- Note: You can also schedule WhatsApp Web messages, but this is not an inherent feature of WhatsApp and requires a Chrome extension
- Undo Send – stop emails from being delivered in case you accidentally hit “send”
Namratha Sastry, PhD
I completed my PhD in neuroscience at Northwestern University, studying aberrant signal transduction in glioblastoma. Subsequently, I joined a position as a Scientific & Medical Writer at a biotech company called Tempus Labs in Chicago. As part of the Science Communications team, I help to lead internal and external publications and also assist with marketing materials, regulatory/FDA documents, and other technical documentation. After being in this role for a year, I decided to transition within Medical Affairs and accepted a position at Biodesix as a medical science liaison. Biodesix is a data-driven diagnostics company, with a predominant focus on lung cancer. After gaining this initial experience in the MSL role, I wanted to switch from diagnostics to pharma, so I transitioned again to my current role as Associate Director of Field Medical Affairs, Oncology in Regeneron. My current position is primarily focused on building relationships with KOLs to advance clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies in the field of oncology.