(Part 2 of 3)
As a continuation of our 3-part series on Medical Affairs 2022: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going, in this second piece, we talk about the changing face of MSL-KOL relationships.
During the pandemic, MSL-KOL interactions were forced to be virtual. However, as per an industry survey, Medical Affairs (MA) professionals and KOLs believe that although virtual interactions are here to stay even beyond the pandemic, approximately 40-50% of future interactions will be face-to-face.
Also, while most of the surveyed KOLs were comfortable and satisfied with virtual communication with MSLs, they did face a few issues such as technical challenges and the lack of dynamic exchanges. The survey also found that in general, younger KOLs have been able to adapt more easily to this trend, while >76% of experienced KOLs believe that face-to-face (F2F) communication is more personalized.
Another interesting finding is that although virtual interactions have worked best for MSLs and KOLs who have had a prior relationship, a majority of MA personnel and KOLs believe that virtual didn’t work well when an MSL was meeting a new KOL for the first time. Thus, MA needs to now think about how to build better MSL-KOL relationships in this scenario so that it is possible to gain trust and give the interactions a personal touch.
Additionally, understanding KOL preferences and how comfortable they are with adapting to various virtual modes for information consumption will enhance the quality of MSL-KOL engagements. For example, more than 50% KOLs in the survey mentioned that they prefer receiving scientific publications or peer-reviewed articles, congress/conference updates, and regulatory updates virtually rather than F2F, via self-serve channels such as on-demand audios and videos, chatbots, automated messages, etc. and through other virtual platforms like WebMD, UpToDate, company-sponsored websites, etc.
All in all, this points toward defining a new MSL for the future – one who is responsive and agile, and unafraid to unlearn and reinvent tactics. Upskilling and training MSLs in digital, apart from key scientific and therapy areas, will be at the core of this transformation. KOLs want this future MSL to engage in deep and focused value-based scientific discussions about real-world evidence, economic value, health outcomes, etc. more frequently, with a strategic mindset and a holistic view of the healthcare systems.
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About the author
Kwisha Shah is Marketing Content Manager, Thought Leadership, at Cactus Life Sciences.