Reflections on the MAPS 2022 EMEA Annual Meeting

Written by Bella Santa Cruz, Integration & Partnerships Director on Tuesday 31st May 2022

From May 15-17, a record-breaking number of Medical Affairs professionals from across the world convened in an unusually warm Paris, France, to attend the Medical Affairs Professional Society 2022 EMEA Annual Meeting, titled From Vision to Action - Medical Affairs’ time to lead is now”. The meeting program was specifically designed to facilitate networking and peer-to-peer discussions, and all delegates were united in their mission to share, learn, and debate the future of Medical Affairs. The delegates also recognized that we must assume our position as the lynchpin of the industry to drive close cross-functional collaboration and lead the integration of internal and external perspectives as part of our mission to improve patients’ lives with transformational medicines.

A key theme running throughout the conference was leadership. But what does this look like, and why is now the time to step forward? In simple terms, we cannot move from vision to action without it. It will be uncomfortable - as all transformations are - but by ensuring patients are the “North Star” that guides all our decisions and actions, we will be able to lead with clarity and overcome the challenges we will face on the path to innovation. As we look forward, we must let go of past experiences and be open-minded about what the future of Medical Affairs looks like, including omnichannel approaches and digitalization. We should not accept “no” as an answer, and we need to collaborate, discuss, and problem-solve as a cross-functional industry to ask ourselves “how can we?” and “what if we could?”. This is how we will lead the industry forward in a compliant and respected manner that meets and exceeds the needs of our patients and caregivers.

Another key theme was patient-centricity; we must challenge ourselves to optimize the collation and analysis of patient insights. Insights are the hidden truths that will help us identify actionable ways to better support the communities we serve and deliver integrated medical plans with impact. Beyond insights, we should involve patients in decision-making from the inception of study protocols through to data dissemination in formats and channels that are meaningful to them. Inspiring case studies were shared at the conference, demonstrating the impact that true partnership with patients and patient advocacy groups can have on the direction, perception, and value of everything we do as Medical Affairs professionals. This shift in approach may also require a change in management in some organizations, which links back to the underlying theme of leadership.

We are at a pivotal time of change, and it is time for Medical Affairs to come to the forefront. The opportunity for cross-company collaboration to tackle our industry-wide challenges should also not be forgotten. The ethos of many experts coming together in order to create solutions with impact is what makes OPEN Health different from any other agency, so we are excited for the evolution ahead. We are proud of our heritage with Medical Affairs clients, and our long-standing partnerships have positioned us to support them with fresh thinking whilst understanding the intricacies of their internal and external landscapes and envisaging how these may change over time. It is both exciting and an honor to play a role in the collective vision for the future of Medical Affairs and to better engage and support the most important stakeholders in our industry - our patients.

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