The second EMEA meeting of the Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS) was recently held on 6–8 October in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with leading Medical Affairs professionals attending from across the globe. Colleagues from OPEN Health Medical Communications were in attendance to hear the latest and greatest in Medical Affairs and, through sharing experiences, understand how the industry can overcome the barriers facing Medical Affairs today.
Medical Affairs is a key pillar
It is a well-recognised reality that Medical Affairs is now seen as a key pillar within the cross-functional team. However, as therapy areas, treatment landscapes and novel therapies advance at lightening pace, there is a need to be agile and ensure that Medical Affairs teams are prepared to face the challenges (and opportunities) that lie ahead and add real value in a transforming landscape.
From discussions with the expert faculty and during workshops, it was evident that more support is required to encourage collaboration between the various business units. Cross-functional exposure between all teams is essential so that the medical team can be elevated from a support function to a strategic partner.
EVOLUTION OF THE MSL ROLE
During a plenary session delivered by McKinsey & Company four core operational changes that need to be embraced to support the evolution to the MSL role was identified:
- Lead integrated evidence generation
- Clearly articulate clinical and economic value to build trust with internal and external partners to accelerate access to treatments
- Personalise medical engagement by providing stakeholders with tailored information to improve outcomes
- Provide strategic medical direction to the organisation, including injecting new capabilities or building skills on a larger scale
In addition, training to support medical teams and MSLs in launch phases was raised as a need, to prepare for different scenarios particularly as the environment is often time sensitive and high pressured. Not only one-off training, but continual performance support with coaching ensures that, as their role or the product lifecycle and challenges change, they feel supported. Skills such as strategic thinking, planning and insight generation were identified as a critical training areas for medical affairs professionals.
Exciting times lie ahead for Medical Affairs teams as their role advances, but there is still work to be done.