Widespread physical distancing measures have been implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These measures obviously have a drastic impact on the daily life of many people around the world. Prior to any orders to shelter in place, restrictions on travel and visitation to healthcare facilities forced many MSLs to change their standard operating procedures due to the sudden inability to have in-person meetings. Given this limitation, MSLs and MSL managers have been reassessing priorities in order to continue to provide value to both internal and external stakeholders. A portion of the MSL Activities COVID-19 Survey focused on the how MSLs are working in this new environment by asking them to “Select the THREE (3) alternative activities / projects you spend the most time on as a result of travel restrictions/bans and reduced KOL engagements?” This article will discuss this portion of the survey.
In the US, the top responses to the question posed above from MSLs and MSL managers were: MSL team meetings (58.2%), reviewing scientific articles/literature (53.6%), and meeting to support other cross-functional team members (31.5%). This matches up well with what MSLs and managers think MSLs should be focusing on at this time, which was a question posed earlier in the survey. The responses to that question had MSL team meetings 2nd, reviewing literature 1st, and supporting cross-functional team members 5th. When splitting the data and comparing responses of MSLs to that of MSL managers, the results were pretty similar. The top responses from MSLs were the same order as the combined group. The MSL managers responses were nearly the same, although supporting cross-functional team members was in second place with one more selection than reviewing literature, which was in 3rd.
At this point in time, it appears that MSL activities are being perceived similarly by MSLs and MSL managers and they are largely matching expectations of both MSLs and MSL managers. There are some notable exceptions, including the amount of virtual KOL engagement MSLs “should” be focusing on (63.0% of all respondents and 73.0% of MSL managers) and the amount of respondents who said it was one of their top 3 activities (24.4%). It will be interesting to see how expectations and perceptions shift over time as MSLs and MSL managers continue working in unprecedented circumstances.