Fishing for Insights

Takeaways from the DIA Medical Affairs and Scientific Communication Forum

Kevin Appareti
Senior Director,
Global Medical Science Liaison,
Philips HealthTech

J. Lynn Bass
Director,
Medical Science Liaisons,
Americas,
Santen, Inc.

Raleigh E. Malik
DIA Senior Scientist

W

hat exactly is a medical insight? How does one identify and collect meaningful medical insights, and apply them to the healthcare product business?

And once one has gathered these insights, how does one continue the engagement with the thought leader or healthcare professional beyond the initial interaction? These questions were addressed at the Fishing for Insights and Extending the Engagement Beyond the Congress Workshop at the 2018 DIA Medical Affairs and Scientific Communication (MASC) Forum. The purpose of this workshop was twofold: 1) to share perspectives on engagement from those in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and professional association fields; and 2) to explore strategies and tactics to extend the engagement beyond the conference venue.

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional insight gathering and engagement approaches can be supplemented with other methods, such as simple targeted surveys
  • Engagement tactics that are mutually beneficial to both parties lead to stronger relationships
  • When discussing insight generation and engagement, it is important to consider collaboration with internal stakeholders.

Traditional Approaches

Traditional approaches of gathering medical insights (defined as opinions or input on medical data and/or strategy at a point in time) include attending conferences and scheduling one on one meetings with thought leaders and other medical professionals. However, as the medical field rapidly evolves, insight gatherers continue to seek new ways to uncover information and extend the engagement beyond a single meeting.

Field Medical Initiatives to the Rescue

At one company, Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) use Field Medical Initiatives (FMIs), simple surveys to capture focused feedback from external stakeholders throughout the drug development process. For example, in the early phase of development, an MSL team may work with the clinical development and compliance teams to prepare and deploy a study feasibility survey. Such internal collaboration not only builds rapport between the MSL and clinical research teams, but also enables the company to engage research sites in a novel way.

Looking Outside Industry for Engagement Ideas

Professional associations gather insights from volunteers and members. For example, DIA members are thought leaders, and their input into the current opportunities and challenges within the healthcare product environment are critical to DIA developing appropriate programming. DIA gathers insights beyond conferences by providing opportunities for volunteers to contribute their expertise in peer-reviewed publications, working groups, and research studies.

Similar to other fields, medical device liaisons use segmentation to create a structured and systematic approach to extend the interaction, and then leverage the insights across the organization. One medical device company takes a co-creation approach, in which researchers collaborate with external thought leaders to discover, ideate, frame, and build novel products. This type of approach engages thought leaders in the process of product innovation.

A Common Goal

Not surprisingly, the goal of engagement between the different fields is similar—to create memorable touchpoints that are mutually beneficial to both parties. Within pharmaceutical companies, deploying a survey helps the clinical and medical teams gather additional information about research sites, which in turn may lead to new collaboration with the site. For DIA, engaging members through scientific initiatives helps the association stay at the forefront of industry trends, and provides a platform for its members to leverage their expertise and advance their careers. At some medical device companies, the practice of co-creation leads to development of new products that leverage internal and external expertise, with both parties benefiting from the innovative output.

These perspectives exemplify the need to harness a thought leader’s expertise and leverage it beyond the immediate business need to maintain the relationship.

Insights on Insights

These examples served as a springboard for workshop participants to brainstorm and discuss novel approaches for acquiring insights, and extending the engagement. Workshop output is described in Tables 1 and 2. Drawing on the perspectives from different fields, participants were able to identify new approaches to engage with both internal colleagues and external thought leaders. As the scope of field based medical personnel evolves, professionals working in this space will need to continue to explore alternative methods to maximize their interactions with key stakeholders.

Table 1. Engagement approaches.

Approach
Utilize a communication platform
Description/Engagement Impact
Company utilizes a communication platform with discussion boards/groups to enable internal colleagues to provide input into external interactions
Example
An MSL attends a medical congress where new data is released. The MSL can monitoring questions from colleagues not in attendance through a discussion group, and then use this input to guide field interactions at the congress
Approach
Engage multiple stakeholders in specific activity
Description/Engagement Impact
The MSL brings together different stakeholder groups to engage in a focused discussion. Different stakeholders make new contacts, and attribute these new relationships to the MSL. Meeting output may lead to new insights for all participants and additional activities to meet business needs.
Example
An MSL has a new product that requires alignment among hospital administrators, healthcare professionals (HCPs), and other leaders. The MSL conducts a focus group to gain feedback on the product deployment strategy.
Approach
Disseminate a survey or research for a thought leader
Description/Engagement Impact
The MSL leverages his/her network to help a thought leader get input on a new research project. This creates an opportunity for the MSL to connect a thought leader with other stakeholders, which may lead to additional collaborations
Example
An HCP has an idea for a new health care app, but needs more input before deciding to create it. He works with an MSL focused in this therapeutic area to create a survey designed to get feedback on his idea.
ApproachDescription/Engagement ImpactExample
Utilize a communication platformCompany utilizes a communication platform with discussion boards/groups to enable internal colleagues to provide input into external interactionsAn MSL attends a medical congress where new data is released. The MSL can monitoring questions from colleagues not in attendance through a discussion group, and then use this input to guide field interactions at the congress
Engage multiple stakeholders in specific activityThe MSL brings together different stakeholder groups to engage in a focused discussion. Different stakeholders make new contacts, and attribute these new relationships to the MSL. Meeting output may lead to new insights for all participants and additional activities to meet business needs.An MSL has a new product that requires alignment among hospital administrators, healthcare professionals (HCPs), and other leaders. The MSL conducts a focus group to gain feedback on the product deployment strategy.
Disseminate a survey or research for a thought leaderThe MSL leverages his/her network to help a thought leader get input on a new research project. This creates an opportunity for the MSL to connect a thought leader with other stakeholders, which may lead to additional collaborationsAn HCP has an idea for a new health care app, but needs more input before deciding to create it. He works with an MSL focused in this therapeutic area to create a survey designed to get feedback on his idea.

Table 2. Approaches for acquiring and managing insights.

How to…Description
Acquire insightsAttend conferences to collect competitive intelligence and scientific data
Deploy surveys to learn targeted information from stakeholders
Manage informationAnalyze qualitative information for keywords and/or categories (informative, actionable, confirmatory)
Share across functionsShare information via dashboards, email, spreadsheets