Want to make Medical Affairs happy? Stack the advisory board

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By Alex Card

The world is getting more complex for medical affairs professionals.

Medical science liaisons and medical affairs teams no longer play supporting roles at life sciences companies; these days, they’re center-stage as a core business function. Or, as a 2019 McKinsey report put it, medical affairs is the “third strategic pillar for the pharmaceutical enterprise.”

So what’s driving this change? Plenty of factors, including:

  • Growing need for scientific and medical information by healthcare providers, thanks to developments across specialized fields like precision medicine, rare disease management, and increasingly complex generalized medicine
  • The emergence of new data streams, specifically real-world and genomic data that inform medical decision-making
  • Increased focus on delivering patient value and value-based payment models
  • New restrictions on interactions between commercial teams and healthcare professionals (HCPs)—and reduced willingness on the part of HCPs to grant access to sales personnel

With these developments in mind, it’s not hard to see why the role of medical affairs is expanding—and why their need for information has skyrocketed, too.

One of the most reliable ways to capture that information is through the establishment of scientific and medical advisory boards.

Choose the right experts for the job

While advisory boards are neither new nor unique to medical affairs, they’re especially critical to these teams, as they provide non-binding, informed guidance on scientific, medical, and commercial issues along the entire drug development pipeline.

Advisory boards can deliver useful input on questions around clinical strategy and development, unmet medical needs, drug positioning, ideal patient populations, clinical trial protocols, and educational messaging for their colleagues—just to name a few examples.

It probably won’t surprise anyone, but an advisory board’s success—and thus the success of a medical affairs team—is largely dependent on bringing together the right mix of participants and diligently preparing meetings, whether conducted in person or virtually.

Your advisory board should be diverse and include advisors with a variety of skills, experience, and expertise. Ideally, board members should also be good communicators with open minds about their colleagues’ insights and feedback.

You should seek members based on compatibility more than individual renown. Well-known experts can bring a lot of value, but only if every member’s insights are heard. An industry heavyweight who dominates or stifles discussion is likely more trouble than they’re worth.

As tempting as it may be, you should avoid choosing only champions of your product to sit on the board. Critical and dissenting opinions will spark discussion and help you understand and address HCPs’ potential reservations and concerns about your product.

Drive your search with data

Whether you’re looking for external experts with extensive advisory board experience or rising-star key opinion leaders (KOLs) who haven’t yet served on a board, you’ll want to understand who’s working (or has worked with) whom.

There are a few ways to handle this. You could simply ask the experts on your shortlist, but they might be reluctant to disclose prior business relationships. Or, you could spend hours Googling their connections and advisory history.

Alternatively, you could rely on data and analytics to get the insights you seek—specifically, you could leverage the healthcare commercial intelligence available on Definitive Healthcare’s Monocl ExpertInsight platform.

Searching for advisory board members is simple with Monocl ExpertInsight:

  • Start by querying your main keywords—these might be your therapeutic field, disease, technique, or other terms related to your most important requirements.
  • Refine your results using the “Boards & Positions” filter to search for members based on the boards they’re currently serving on.
  • Then further refine your list, sort by various criteria, dive into experts’ profiles, or download your results as you’d like.

Need a closer look at the Monocl ExpertInsight platform? Or want to talk with a specialist about how the platform fits into your workflow? Schedule a demo today.

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