The surge of scientific content and data in Medical Affairs is here to stay. The volume of information is heightening the role of technology across the life sciences industry. This brings both challenges and opportunities.
What should life sciences organizations consider when implementing new technology in Medical Affairs?
There are immense benefits to implementing new technology in Medical Affairs. Technology, even powerful artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, innovates the space by providing holistic, data-backed pictures of the landscape. It delivers actionable insights and enables teams to place their time and focus on their areas of expertise, rather than redundant tasks. With the right Medical Affairs platform, MA can use data and insights to focus on personalizing HCP interactions, demonstrating value, and driving decision-making and strategy.
Overall, technology has the power to support Medical Affairs, and in turn, save lives.
Even so, bringing in new technology does not come without challenges. Just as in any industry or workplace, new technologies can be challenging to implement. The process brings major adjustments. Particularly in MA, a space where professionals are highly skilled in specific workflows and processes, it becomes vital to ask - is this technology supporting me or slowing me down? Is it making my job easier, or simply adding on tasks? Is it my organization’s goal to replace human expertise with automated platforms?
These concerns are valid and important to ask. During the evaluation process, teams should also find relief in the fact that the right technology should bring confidence. Medical insights platforms should be a partner, not a replacement, to Medical Affairs.
What are some best practices for bringing new technology into Medical Affairs?
Here are four tips for a smooth and effective transition.
Tip 1: Create a Plan for Your Organization
Each organization, patient, and health care provider is different, and so is each Medical Affairs team.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing new technology in any organization. However, there are strategies that can make it easier.
When making a plan, consider asking the following questions:
- What are your current objectives and goals?
- How could technology support these?
- What are your current challenges?
- How could technology eliminate these?
One approach is to outline metrics and KPIs for new technologies, as you would with any other project or objective. This will give your time to consider what you want to achieve before deploying any new solution.
We can go deeper with two situational examples:
- Situation # 1: Executive leadership needs an easier, clearer way to guide strategy across the organization.
- Situation #2: Individual teams need an easier, clearer way to synthesize data, identify trends, and align strategy.
In both situations, an AI-powered insights platform designed for life sciences will enable users to extract valuable insights and analytics. There are similarities between both instances, but there are key differences.
First, there are different users and use cases in each situation. In Situation #1, the C-suite will serve as the primary users. So, although there are fewer users in the platform, there are direct company-wide implications based on the insights.
In Situation #2, multiple teams are using insights to connect the dots between sources of data. Their goal is to use data to align strategies and determine what matters.
Ultimately, when bringing in new technology, consider foremost what your organization wants to achieve. What are the ends that matter, and what KPIs will demonstrate how we get there? How can technology best support this?
Tip #2: Align strategy across functions
If your organization is implementing a medical insights platform, it’s the perfect opportunity to find opportunities to align strategy and decision-making. An insights platform can help align medical affairs strategies across functions - backed with data.
The right medical insights platform can:
- Eliminate data silos by centralizing data
- Provide clarity by illustrating what is going on in and outside the organization
- Streamline data-backed decision making and strategy
- Monitor feedback and adjust accordingly
- Demonstrate the value of Medical Affairs in real-time
- And more...
This eliminates any potential information gaps and saves time on manual, repetitive processes. It enables teams to focus more on action than information.
Tip #3: Augment, Don’t Automate
Medical Affairs professionals are highly trained medical experts. They represent deep understanding with peers and the ability to translate clinical literature to impact guidelines and patients. Still, there is a large component to the medical affairs role that involves spending time on manual tasks that could be augmented or supported by AI.
Why augmentation, not automation?
The answer is simple - technology shouldn’t replace Medical Affairs. It should support it. While there are some low-order tasks that technology can automate, overall, the right medical insights platform should act as a partner to Medical Affairs. It should provide capabilities for experts to review, enrich, and customize the output. It should recognize the value that a human expert brings to the table and support that.
Technology should enable MA professionals to make the most of their hard-won skills and deep experience of doing true medical and scientific work. It should augment their capabilities with tools to increase productivity, save time, and focus on what they do best - bringing the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
Tip #4: Be a source of support
When it’s time to bring in new technology that augments your team’s expertise, there may be some concerns about replacement. Teams may have questions surrounding the new technology. They may ask - what does this mean for me? What does this mean for my role?
It’s an understandable reaction. It places some responsibility on leadership to recognize potential concerns and questions and address them head-on. It’s valuable to help colleagues understand that yes, roles may evolve and transform as things progress forward, but hopefully, that’s a good thing. The right approach can mean that change is welcomed, not feared.
What are some actionable ways to support Medical Affairs professionals in your organization?
It comes down to your organization’s approach to change management. What systems and procedures can you build into place to support an evolving approach to innovation and technology?
It can be important to provide proper training and allow time to get comfortable. In most cases, learning a new platform can take time to learn. It can take time to adjust. Training programs can provide teams with the space and support they need.
It can also be refreshing for direct individuals involved to understand how their roles will actually shift. For example, if a professional has been responsible for screening many articles, but now there is a tool to make it faster to identify and analyze, the expert becomes a trainer - is this the right article for this project? Now, their role has shifted from the screener of 500 articles to the trainer of 50 articles. This will save time and improve productivity, allowing them to do more - with more.
Teams should be excited by new changes and value them as an opportunity. They should feel confident that their jobs will be enhanced, not be replaced. It all comes down to supporting Medical Affairs - how can we enable them to do the best with all available tools at hand to support patient outcomes?
What does this all look like in practice? What are the capabilities of a Medical Insights platform?
In this webinar, we will explore how effective Medical Insights Management can empower your team, augment expertise, and improve patient outcomes. We will also demonstrate our Medical Insights Module for Medical Affairs capabilities.
- Shauna Aherne, President of MedEvoke
- Richard Graves, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-founder of Sorcero
- Michael Kahn, Senior Director of Medical Affairs Operations at Spark Therapeutics
- Matt Lewis, Global Chief Medical Analytics and Innovation Officer at MEDiSTRAVA
- Jeff New, Director, Digital Innovation and Excellence at Novartis Gene Therapies
- Kirk Shepard, Chief Medical Officer and SVP of Global Medical Affairs OBG at Eisai, MAPS Co-founder