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Medical Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement in an Evolving Healthcare Scenario

Due to unprecedented challenging situation and the current pandemic time, stakeholders needs are changing and these uncertain times are accelerating approaches already existing within Pharma industry, in an era of digital disruption, therefore, more than in the past, flexible mindset and agility are needed. In addition to stakeholders needs, also environmental trends and approach are changing and these include medical education platforms, digital programs, data generation, next generation therapies, new ways of information exchange, pricing pressure and constraints, publications digital channels and AI.

All organizations and functions are facing with these challenges and Medical Affairs, as other functions, has been widely impacted, especially with external engagement as with many other activities, typical of the function itself.

More than in the past, Medical Affairs teams has to provide value, delivering impact for the benefit of all stakeholders, mainly by leading and overseeing several strategic activities. It’s evident, since a lot, the existing challenges in engagement external stakeholders, especially in the early engagement phases, whereas the produced effort – only apparently – cannot produce immediate tangible outcomes.

Another point to consider, as in the past, is that the variety of stakeholders, according the diseases and their influence, also considering need in engagement multiple stakeholders (KOLs, investigators, patients, payors), with sometime, different priorities. The focus on digital health, precision medicine, integration with big data, diagnostics and therapeutics, with a complete understanding of stakeholder’s needs is therefore a “must”. Digital firstly, in fact, is changing external stakeholders approach, mainly within HCPs and patients experiences, according multiple dimensions.

What really matters now and much more than in the past, is exploring new strategies, in a disruptive and challenging period, including advance targeting and 1:1 digital engagement, simplifying processes and operations, embracing the power of technology to transform medical, by digital, AI, advanced analytics and developing innovative and modern strategic plans and subsequent tactics. Flexibility and adaptability to change in a fearless context will be the winning factor, due to digital tools will replace or probably only implement, many of today’s “live” interactions.

One of the most important activities within Medical Affairs, represented by delivering customer experience focused on science, through a deeper understanding of physician/patient journey, medical insights, unmet medical needs, must be shifted to all digital tools, to assess, build and develop the best external stakeholder engagement plans and actions ever. Medical Affairs has to co-lead the cross-functional and integrated team, in addressing the transformed healthcare landscape. There is, in fact, a relevant interest on the topic of customer insights generation by Medical Affairs to shape strategy and relevant customer engagement, through management of “real time” digital interaction tools, also providing digital services, beyond the product data, that finally means engaging external stakeholders, communicating scientific evidence with innovative and “omnichannel” approach.

Digital innovation is playing an important role in transforming the Medical Affairs approach and insights capabilities, so new technologies and digital as well, are enabling Medical function to obtain, analyze and interpret all the collected information and insights, with different outcomes, including improving clinical studies and subsequent programs, pre-launches programs and LCM activities. This will be related not to insights only, but also on a better understanding of clinical trends and in understanding medical needs. Any winning and successful activity will depend on the ability of the Medical function to lead the scenario’s change and deeply gain from any insight, adapting its approach, strategies and tactics to  gain from changes.

Medical Affairs must build capabilities, through flexibility and adaptation ability, building knowledge and experience to realize the possibilities enabled by insights and advanced analytics, mainly through e-delivery information. The new multichannel tools, real time digital interactions, digital services & solutions, including, virtual events, webinar, e-meetings, will permit to Medical Affairs to lead and manage external focus and stakeholders collaboration, providing an high impact and continuing in building trusted and reliable scientific relationships externally.

In this time of disruption, even if applicable also in the future, a successful factor will be to develop and transform Medical Affairs teams into Medical added-value teams, through provision strategic input to information exchange, late pipeline development support and LCM, by deep analysis of insights and their interpretation, for sharing and communicate scientific evidence. In this area, virtual events, e-congresses and other innovative ways of stakeholder engagement will help in the management of medical programs and will improve HCP decisions and patient outcomes.

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