Driving transformation – PharmaTimes

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In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, transformation is key to success and medical affairs teams play a vital role in making it happen.

But as therapies grow in complexity and the number of stakeholders increase, the need for medical affairs teams to effectively communicate the value of their work has never been greater.

In a recent episode of Vynamic’s Trending Health podcast, we discussed the importance of effective impact measurement in medical affairs and shared practical strategies to overcome the associated challenges.

Importance of impact

Within medical affairs, measuring value isn’t just about quantifying success – it’s about guiding impactful transformation to strategically drive action and reach meaningful change.

In a world where resources are finite and scrutiny is high, measuring impact becomes essential. It’s not enough to simply execute initiatives – teams must be able to demonstrate their effectiveness and justify investment.

This is particularly true as medical affairs increasingly collaborate with other functions, such as commercial, regulatory, and market access, necessitating a more integrated approach to measurement.

Moreover, as the focus on patient-centricity grows, medical affairs must ensure their efforts are aligned with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes.

By measuring impact, we can better understand how initiatives are influencing physician behaviour, patient outcomes, and broader healthcare trends.

Measuring impact in medical affairs is about more than just numbers – it’s about telling a compelling story of value creation and driving positive change.

Key challenges

While measuring impact is crucial, it comes with its share of challenges. The first is defining the right metrics.

In 2023, the Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS) Metrics and Benchmark Survey revealed that 70% of respondents didn’t have any metric activities in place.

With a multitude of potential measures to choose from, medical affairs leaders must carefully select those that align with their strategic objectives and provide meaningful insights into their impact.

This process can be further complicated by differing priorities among stakeholders and the need to balance short-term results with long-term goals.

Another challenge is the complexity of measuring impact across different functions and regions. Medical affairs teams often operate in a global context, with activities spanning multiple countries and regions.

This can lead to disparities in data collection methods, making it difficult to compare results and track performance over time. Additionally, integrating data from disparate sources can be difficult to navigate requiring significant time and resources.

Furthermore, the rapid pace of technological advancement poses its own set of challenges. While new technologies and data sources offer exciting opportunities for measuring impact, they also require teams to adapt quickly and keep up with the latest developments.

This can be particularly challenging for teams with limited resources and expertise in data analysis and technology implementation.

Overall, the key challenge for medical affairs leaders is striking the right balance between measuring impact comprehensively and pragmatically.

Strategies for success

Despite the challenges faced by medical affairs teams in measuring impact, there are several practical strategies that can help overcome these obstacles.

  • Align metrics with strategic objectives: Begin by clearly defining your strategic objectives and identifying the key metrics that will best measure progress toward these goals. Focus on selecting metrics that are meaningful, actionable, and aligned with your organisation’s overarching mission and values
  • Collaborate across functions: Break down silos and foster collaboration between medical affairs and other key functions, such as commercial, regulatory, and market access. By working together, teams can ensure that metrics are consistent and aligned with broader organisational priorities
  • Embrace technology: Leverage technology to streamline data collection, analysis, and reporting processes. Explore innovative tools and platforms that can help automate routine tasks, integrate data from disparate sources, and provide actionable insights in real time
  • Prioritise resource allocation: Recognise that resources are finite and prioritise investments in areas that will have the greatest impact. Consider the cost-effectiveness of different measurement approaches and focus on initiatives that deliver the most value for your organisation.
  • Set smart KPIs: When defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and critical success factors, ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (smart), all while tying back to your strategic imperatives This will help ensure clarity and accountability, enabling teams to track progress and adjust strategies as needed.
  • Focus on long-term impact: While short-term results are important, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a strategic approach to measurement, setting KPIs that reflect both immediate objectives and longer-term goals for sustained impact.

By implementing these practical strategies, medical affairs teams can overcome the challenges of measuring impact and demonstrate the value of their work to stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem.

Shaping the future

As we look to the future, there are several exciting opportunities for enhancing impact measurement in medical affairs and driving positive transformation. Four key areas for future exploration and growth include:

  • Embracing emerging technologies: With advancements in AI, machine learning, and data analytics, there is immense potential for enhancing impact measurement in medical affairs, particularly in understanding HCP behaviors. For example, leveraging sentiment analysis on medical insights can provide deeper insights into HCP behaviors over time. In addition, analysing claims data or ATU assessments provides a way to measure change in physician behavior over time. By harnessing the power of data-driven insights, teams can gain a deeper understanding of their initiatives’ effectiveness and identify new opportunities for improvement
  • Addressing health equity and diversity: As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, there is a growing recognition of the importance of addressing health equity, diversity, and inclusion. Medical affairs teams have a unique opportunity to drive positive change in these areas by ensuring that their initiatives are accessible, inclusive, and culturally sensitive
  • Enhancing collaboration across functions: Collaboration is key to success in the healthcare industry, and medical affairs teams must continue to work closely with other key functions, such as commercial, regulatory, HEOR, and market access. By breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration, teams can ensure that their impact measurement efforts are comprehensive and aligned with broader organisational goals
  • Promoting a culture of continuous improvement: Finally, promoting a culture of continuous improvement is essential for driving ongoing success in impact measurement. By encouraging innovation, experimentation, and learning from failures, teams can identify new opportunities for improvement and drive meaningful change in the healthcare industry.

Our discussion on the podcast highlighted the critical need for strategic thinking and alignment with organisational objectives.

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, the imperative to connect strategy to action becomes increasingly evident.

From selecting meaningful impact metrics to fostering cross-functional collaboration, it’s clear that a multifaceted approach is essential.

By embracing smart KPIs, focusing on both short-term wins and long-term gains, and integrating new technologies and data analytics, medical affairs leaders can navigate the complexities of impact measurement more effectively.

Moreover, by keeping the end patient in mind and addressing broader societal goals such as health equity and sustainability, pharmaceutical companies can ensure that medical affairs’ efforts are not only impactful but also aligned with the greater purpose of transforming healthcare for all.

To access our full conversation, visit Vynamic.com/trendinghealth

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Lori Klein is a Partner and the Medical & Scientific Affairs Practice Lead at Putnam and Gemma Pfister is the Head of Life Sciences Europe at Vynamic. Both Putnam and Vynamic are part of Inizio Advisory.

Since bringing together four of the most trusted, experienced and successful entities in Medical Affairs in 2022, Inizio Advisory has been making an impact on human healthcare. Its combined knowledge, experience and expertise allow the organisation to assist clients in discovering true value that impacts real patient outcomes.

Inizio Advisory’s collaborative way of working, powered by people and accelerated by AI, provides clients with access to cutting-edge thinking.

Visit inzio.com/advisory to find out more.

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