Engaged: How to Connect your MSL Team with the Broader Organization and Provide Real Value + FREE E-BOOK
Onboarding your MSL (Medical Science Liaison) team properly is crucial to the growth and success of the medical organization and your company. (Keeping everyone engaged past the onboarding phase is essential to staff retention and job satisfaction.) Once your team is onboarded and engaged, the next critical step is how to continuously connect them with the broader pharmaceutical organization and healthcare professionals. And above all, what are some unique ways they can provide real value?
Here are a few tactics you can implement (or suggest) to keep your team involved, invested, value-oriented within your company and amongst healthcare professionals and patients.
Consider (and treat) them as scientific experts
In most cases, MSLs were not the individuals who discovered the small molecule or biologic your company is advancing through clinical development or the marketplace. But, they are top-notch educators and communicators and need to be used as such. Be sure to include them as part of the team of scientific experts, which will help with engagement within the organization and with external potential customers and patients.
Capitalize on their skills
A big part of the job of an MSL involves working with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). Include your MSLs during all activities that involves KOLs to help foster this relationship. The MSL knows areas of interests of their KOLs and should be able to anticipate questions and discussion points. Activities include ad boards and speaker trainings, but should also include publication planning efforts (including target product profile development), white papers, abstracts, and manuscript development. Include your MSLs in all preparations for all scientific presentations and therapeutic updates at congresses too.
Involve them in patient advocacy
Historically, MSLs haven't spent much time on patient advocacy, but the trend is growing. For example, if you have a cardiovascular product, you may consider engaging your MSL team with patient groups. Through this engagement, they might learn that many patients aren't being screened early enough for COPD or heart disease. Using Medicare's Hospital Compare, one may be able to find that screening rates are alarmingly low at particular hospitals. Sharing all of this data with healthcare professionals at the hospital and with patient advocacy groups can allow the MSL to advocate on behalf of the patient and increase awareness.
An MSL can and should add this to conversations with HCPs as well. These conversations will help them understand any trends and gaps. Imagine the improvements they could make in the process by delivering this information throughout the continuum of patient care. If presented correctly, payers would benefit by learning this information too via the market access team.
Being involved in patient advocacy activities is a perfect place for an MSL to grow and foster a continuing relationship with the healthcare community. These findings can be used for health economics, market access, marketing, and deeper within the medical organization level to discuss knowledge, screening, or treatment gaps identified.
Empower them to present
Another essential part of an MSL's job description includes scientific presentations to HCPs and particularly, KOLs. They may present at grand rounds or scientific meetings. MSLs have substantial scientific and clinical skills which can be utilized by other cross-functional teams.
MSLs can help with scientific and clinical information for commercial uses such as sales aids, websites, slide decks, patient education materials, and market access uses, like health economics data and managed markets.
MSLs are uniquely positioned with knowledge and relationships in many areas. While they certainly are not the sales leader or the market access expert, their input can and should be used. They know the customer and may soon know the patient very well, too (if they get involved in patient advocacy).
Using your MSLs to their fullest potential can help build your team engagement and accomplish your medical goals and enhance commercial and market access goals. MSLs possess excellent communication skills and are great educators. Utilizing these skills to their fullest potential can produce great outcomes across the patient-care spectrum.