Start of Main Content

Look beyond numbers to measure the value of medical affairs


How’s your medical affairs team been performing lately?

It’s a fairly simple question—you probably already have an answer in mind—but here’s a trickier one: How do you know the impact that your medical affairs efforts are having?

For most functions in your organization, tracking performance is a matter of identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) and measuring them over time.

Quantitative metrics like marketing qualified leads, return on investment and spending as a percentage of sales can illustrate the performance of commercial or R&D teams. Determining and communicating the value of medical affairs, on the other hand, can require more qualitative analysis.

Keep reading to find out why simple numbers only tell part of the story when it comes to the impact of medical affairs.

Why is medical affairs performance so hard to measure?

Medical affairs teams engage with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and decision-makers to share the evolving science behind their organization’s latest developments, and to bring external stakeholders’ insights and perspectives back to guide organizational strategy.

The true value of medical affairs isn’t in how frequently they meet with these stakeholders or how many insights they gather from experts—though these are useful metrics to track.

Instead, your medical affairs team’s value should be aligned to more tangible outcomes: how much trust a KOL places in your data following engagement, the impact of a captured medical insight, or how a KOL uses information provided during a scientific exchange.

These outcomes aren’t easily demonstrated with quantitative metrics, and reporting on the team’s success will take a little more effort than plugging data into a chart.

To tell the full story of medical affairs’ impact, you’ll need qualitative indicators that provide context to both goals and objectives.

Qualitative KPIs add narrative to your quantitative metrics

While the value of medical affairs clearly goes beyond numbers, they’re still a good place to start: identification of the right KOL, centers of excellence, topics discussed, as well as reach and frequency —these are just a few metrics that offer a benchmark by which you can measure your qualitative outcomes.

Which qualitative KPIs are best suited to convey the efficacy of your medical affairs team will depend on your organizational goals. Consider what your organization wants to accomplish through medical affairs before deciding which KPIs are right for your team.

KOL source

When your medical science liaison (MSL) adds a new KOL to their network, the potential value of that KOL can be predicted by their “source”—that is, how they came into the MSL’s network. One KOL referred into the network by another, for instance, may suggest a more valuable medical affairs interaction than a KOL acquired through social media engagement. Consider tracking KOL source alongside MSL network size or growth rate to add qualitative value to quantitative metrics.

Actions taken after engagement (ATAE)

So, your MSL had a great conversation with a KOL. What did the KOL do next? ATAE measures how KOLs use the information provided by your medical affairs team following an interaction, whether in a publication, presentation or educational setting. An especially valuable interaction might see a clinician change their practice patterns afterward. Identifying these actions is easier with the help of improved data and analytics strategies.

Follow-up interactions

If you’re already tracking how many medical affairs-KOL interactions result in a follow-up meeting, you have an interesting quantitative measure that offers some qualitative insight. Medical affairs professionals who generate more follow-up interactions are clearly demonstrating heightened value to KOLs.

Medical insight impact

Hopefully, you have an idea of how many insights your MSLs are generating during KOL interactions. But how are these insights shaping your organization? Track insights that produce follow-up actions anywhere within your organization. This qualitative metric not only reveals the value of the KOL who provided it, but also the communicative performance of your MSL internally.

And many more…

These are just a few of the most common qualitative KPIs. Every organization’s needs are unique, and yours may find value in tracking others, such as:

  • KOL sphere of influence
  • Follow-up information requests
  • Level and depth of the relationship by way of publications, presentations, etc., aligned to your scientific narrative
  • Sentiment analyses of social media via artificial intelligence/machine learning
  • Real-time opinion surveys

Maximize medical affairs value with healthcare commercial intelligence

If your medical affairs team spends a significant portion of their time hunting down treatment data, contact information or clinical activity across disconnected sources, their full potential isn’t being realized.

The right healthcare commercial intelligence solution brings together into one platform all the data, analytics and expertise your medical affairs team needs to identify and engage with KOLs who can help your organization achieve its goals. Within that same platform, you’ll find the real-world data and clinical activities that provide context to your MSLs’ performance and the value of their interactions.

Ready to explore these insights for yourself? Book a demo with Definitive Healthcare today.

Definitive Healthcare

About the Author

Definitive Healthcare

This blog was written by a former contributor at Definitive Healthcare. At Definitive Healthcare, our passion is to transform data, analytics and expertise into healthcare…

Author profile