It’s true that our world is complex and interconnected, and it can be difficult to make sense of it all. But if we can harness the power of technology and human ingenuity, we can create something truly remarkable – a world where we trust each other and our systems, and where we’re excited about the future. This could have a transformative effect on our healthcare system, and on the quality of life for all of us.
In a previous article: The organizations that succeed in positioning their science will win I shared a perspective on the growing role of Medical Affairs in pharma Go-To-Market operations. In the article, I mentioned that Medical Affairs must embrace technology, particularly digital: artificial intelligence and machine learning, computing power, analytics software, CX Planners, Medical CRM, and new datasets, in order to support the evolution of the health care pathway.
Below I would like to share an example of an Action Plan for embracing such technologies.
Assessment and Stakeholder Alignment
Establish a cross-functional team comprising members from Medical Affairs, IT, data analytics, and key stakeholders. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of technology adoption in Medical Affairs and identify key pain points and opportunities. Engage with leadership to secure buy-in and commitment to embracing technology in healthcare.
- How will we make sure that we are identifying all of the key pain points, and gather input from all stakeholders, including those who may not feel comfortable speaking up?
- What are the potential roadblocks to getting leadership buy-in? How will we address any resistance to change, and what incentives can we offer to encourage leaders to get on board with the initiative?
Define Prioritized Use Cases
Identify a set of high-impact use cases where technology can enhance Medical Affairs’ effectiveness. Examples include:
a. Predictive Analytics for Disease Monitoring
b. AI-powered Literature Review and Insights
c. HCP Engagement and Customer Relationship Management (Medical CRM)
d. Real-world Evidence Generation
e. Data-Driven Medical Education
Prioritize these use cases based on their potential impact on patient outcomes and business objectives.
- How will we measure the success of each use case, and what KPIs / OKRs and metrics will we track?
- What are the dependencies and prerequisites for each use case? For example, what infrastructure, data sources, or other systems do we need to have in place before we can start implementing the use case?
Develop a Technology Capability Stack
Collaborate with IT experts to design a robust technology capability stack that includes: Data Management and Integration Tools, Machine Learning and AI Frameworks, Analytics and Visualization Software, Customer Experience and Medical CRM Solutions, Secure Data Storage and Compliance Infrastructure, Access to New and Relevant Datasets.
- How will we prioritize the different capabilities, and what should be our roadmap for building them out? What’s the most critical capability that we need to start with, and how can we ensure that we’re building in an agile and iterative way?
- What are the potential security, privacy, and compliance implications of the stack, and how will we mitigate those risks?
Craft a comprehensive strategic plan for technology adoption in Medical Affairs, aligned with the organization’s broader digital transformation goals. Define clear objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and timelines for each use case. Allocate resources, budget, and personnel for technology implementation.
- What change management and upskilling programs are needed to ensure that Medical Affairs teams are able to adopt and use the new technology effectively?
- How will we measure the success of the technology adoption effort, and how will we ensure that the benefits are realized?
Technology Implementation and Integration
Roll out technology solutions gradually, ensuring proper training and change management. Establish integration points with existing systems to enable seamless data flow. Monitor progress and make necessary adjustments based on feedback and emerging technologies.
- How can we ensure that the solutions are meeting the needs of the end-users, such as medical affairs teams, and how can we incorporate their feedback into the solutions?
- What measures can we put in place to ensure that the solutions are future-proofed and able to adapt to changes in technology and business needs?
Data Governance and Compliance
Develop robust data governance policies to ensure data quality, security, and compliance with regulatory standards (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR).Implement data privacy measures and obtain necessary approvals for data usage.
- Who will be responsible for developing and implementing these policies, and what expertise is needed?
- How will we ensure that the policies are being followed and updated as needed? For example, will there be audits or periodic reviews?
Measurement and Evaluation
Continuously monitor and measure the impact of technology-driven initiatives on patient outcomes, HCP engagement, and business goals. Use quantifiable metrics to assess the success of each use case and adjust strategies accordingly.
- How will we isolate the impact of the technology from other factors? For example, if HCP engagement increases, is that because of the technology, or because of a new marketing campaign?
- How can we ensure that the data we’re using to measure success is accurate and complete?
Knowledge Sharing and Training
Foster a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing among Medical Affairs teams. Provide ongoing training and support to ensure staff proficiency with new technologies.
- How will we create that culture? What specific programs, incentives, or structures are needed?
- How can we ensure that teams have the time and resources to focus on learning and training, given their other responsibilities?
Feedback and Iteration
Encourage feedback from Medical Affairs teams, HCPs, and patients to refine and improve technology solutions. Iterate on use cases and the technology capability stack based on evolving needs and opportunities.
- How will we collect this feedback in a way that’s efficient, comprehensive, and representative? For example, how can we avoid only hearing from the “loudest” or most “vocal” voices?
- How will we prioritize and act on feedback? How will we balance different perspectives and make tradeoffs when necessary?
Scaling and Expansion
Gradually scale successful use cases to additional markets and therapeutic areas. Explore partnerships and collaborations to access new datasets and innovative technologies.
- How will we account for differences in regulations, cultures, or patient populations and ensure that the technology is translated and adapted effectively?
- How can we ensure that we’re appropriately investing in local resources, expertise, and infrastructure?
Communication and Engagement
Communicate the benefits of technology adoption to internal and external stakeholders. Engage with HCPs and patients to gather insights and feedback for continuous improvement.
- Who are the key stakeholders? What’s the best way to reach them and communicate effectively with them?
- What success metrics should we be communicating about, and how can we make them meaningful and compelling?
Compliance and Ethical Considerations
Stay up-to-date with evolving regulations and ethical considerations in healthcare technology. Ensure transparency and ethical use of data in all technology-driven activities.
- What frameworks and standards can we use to ensure that we’re operating ethically? For example, frameworks like the Hippocratic Oath for AI, or the NIST framework for trustworthy AI.
- How will we ensure that our actions and decisions are transparent, and that we’re able to justify them? What mechanisms can we put in place to ensure accountability?
‘Future’ is rapidly transforming into ‘present’ at remarkable speed.
Medical Affairs can successfully embrace technology, particularly digital tools like AI and machine learning, to improve patient outcomes, enhance HCP engagement, and drive consistent and measurable impact across markets. This transformation can enable quicker access to critical information and better prioritization of medical activities..