Medical Science Liaisons: Measuring success
By: Peter Rutherford, MD, PhD | April 07, 2016
How to measure the effectiveness of programs designed to produce long-term success.
Measuring the success of a medical science liaison team’s role in market access can be challenging. Market access programs by their very nature are designed to support future success, rather than demonstrating an immediate return on investment. Therefore, there are indicators to measure that give insight into the levels of engagement being achieved by medical science liaisons (MSLs). In this post, we discuss the measurement criteria for tasks that are now led by MSLs.
MSLs, because of their academic qualifications, in addition to medical and scientific expertise, may have an easier time gaining access to healthcare professionals than their sales colleagues. In an era where there is a growing requirement for communication of complex scientific information, it is the field medical and scientific liaison team that is best placed to address this need. MSLs are generally viewed by healthcare providers (HCPs) as a trusted partner, one who provides objective and balanced information on product data. In a recent survey, a majority of senior key opinion leaders said that they would prefer to engage with MSLs rather than members of the sales and marketing team, suggesting that a higher value is placed on time spent with MSLs than with sales representatives.
Measure: Mapping of MSL influence and impact – reach of MSL medical and scientific communication across the expert medical community. Percentage of time spent in customer facing activities.
MSLs play a significant role in developing external expert engagement in company medical affairs activities. By acting as a bridge between the company and healthcare professionals, MSLs are able to engage HCPs in projects such as advisory boards, congress activities and can also facilitate the processes around investigator initiated studies (IIS). These MSL-led activities allow experts to have hands-on experience with products before launch, providing them with the opportunity to gain an understanding of the implications for healthcare delivery as well as providing the company with access to information about market needs. Encouraging KOLs to participate in speaker activities and to share experience can also improve awareness of data across the medical community. These ‘foundation’ activities are strategically important for the organization as they support future success – it has been recognized that the number of healthcare professionals with experience in using a drug pre-launch can correlate with future product success.
Measure: Involvement of external experts in research and in advisory boards; quality and relevance of investigator-initiated studies supported by the MSL, scientific success of KOL presentations facilitated by MSLs, expert contribution to medical strategy.
MSLs play an important role in providing information to healthcare professionals to help them keep up with advances in science and medicine, and give them the opportunity to learn about new and innovative treatments and regimens. The MSL communication may include information sessions on recent scientific publications, congress activity, and white papers. They may also run webinars on medical / scientific topics relevant to their role and provide access to training about new devices or delivery systems.
Measure: Stakeholder feedback on value of MSL interaction; uptake of training opportunities; quality of medical and scientific presentations to external experts (measured through customer surveys and manager observation); speed and quality of response to unsolicited requests for medical information.
Improving time to access
The skill of the MSL lies in their ability to communicate complex scientific themes in a simple way to a varied audience including health care professional budget holders. One goal of an MSL when supporting the market entry process is to communicate the relevant medical and scientific value of a product in order to help relevant stakeholders make a decision about reimbursement or local formulary inclusion. This support allows companies to navigate the path to market access more efficiently and effectively, improving patient outcomes.
Measure: Time to market access and level of reimbursement.
Improving patient access and patient support
Patient access and support programs can be complex, and may include cost rebates, may necessitate a need for service re-design and may require education programs. MSLs can support healthcare professionals by answering their questions and resolving queries relating to patient access to new medicines.
Measure: Patient access and uptake of support programs
Qualitative measures have a role in measuring MSL contribution to and alignment with the corporate objectives. Such measures can be particularly important to balance out geographic differences in opportunities for MSLs. Surveying the MSL customer group (both external and internal stakeholders) can provide a measure of the quality, depth of relationships, and of the contribution to special projects and strategic planning. Observation and feedback on in-field performance from managers and directors is also important in the evaluation of MSL contribution and is critical to driving the quality and impact of MSL teams.
While there is no one single measure for the success of MSLs, the investment in their role within medical affairs is an investment for the future success of a drug in an increasingly competitive market.