Strategic engagement planning is central to everything medical affairs do. Expert engagement needs to be aligned with the strategic medical plan, address the experts’ scientific needs, generate insights that then feed back into the organization leading to adjustments to the medical plan, and provide a metric for measuring the value and impact of the medical affairs function. The overall objective is to best serve the patient by supporting healthcare professionals and external experts with unbiased information and data.
To be effective engagement of external experts has to be coordinated and harmonized between cross-functional teams, geographies, as well as field and HQ-based team members.
Coordination, however, is easier said than done. Any time people in different functions with different objectives and key metrics need to coordinate across many time zones challenges arise. Coordinated engagement of medical, clinical and scientific experts in different countries for a multitude of activities is no exception.
To address this challenge Monocl has developed Monocl Engage, a cloud-based knowledge system and engagement platform that provides global visibility and allows for dynamic and compliant cross-functional collaboration.
Our customers have shared four use cases with us that illustrate the importance of coordinated expert engagement and highlight how Monocl Engage can address challenges that to date are addressed with inadequate tools such as static spreadsheets or jury-rigged CRM systems.
Use case 1: harmonizing operations - prioritize engagement activities across functions
Expert engagement happens in a complex matrix of interaction. Multiple individuals from medical affairs, commercial, R&D, medical education, publication planning and other functions engage the same expert for different activities and at different times.
Currently these functions are siloed and teams have no visibility into the other teams’ activities and plans. Therefore, the teams’ objectives are not aligned and time lines and activities are not coordinated leading to a number of challenges, e.g.
- an expert might be overextended at certain times while underutilized at others
- lack of visibility can lead to non-compliance or non-adherence with the organization’s corporate integrity agreement
- interactions with the expert will be uncoordinated and confusing, leaving the expert wondering whom to interact with, when and about what.
A shared engagement platform like Monocl Engage allows for alignment of strategy. It also guarantees a coordinated approach to execution of the engagement plan where touch points with the expert are logically sequenced and responsibilities of each team member are clear. In order to remain compliant, a compliance officer can be part of the planning process.
Joint planning also facilitates prioritization: with teams having a line of sight into the activities of other groups those activities with the greatest value can be jointly identified and prioritized.
Use case 2: harmonizing operations - mind the spending cap
An especially relevant issue around lack of coordination are internal spending caps on experts. A siloed approach to expert engagement creates the real risk that the spending cap is reached before high-value, strategic engagement activities can be undertaken. A top-tier external expert might therefore be unavailable for an advisory board position later in the fiscal year because the honoraria for numerous lower-impact activities add up to bring them too close to the spending cap.
A single, integrated system such as Monocl Engage, that captures all activities associated with the expert is the solution to this problem. It provides every team member with visibility into all current and planned activities the expert is involved with. This doesn’t only make it possible to prioritize high-value and -impact activities over lower-impact ones but also streamlines the communication with the expert. Internally, stressful situations such as a last-minute scramble to find a replacement for an expert to avoid exceeding the spending cap can also be avoided.
Use case 3: coordinating engagement – clinical guideline review
Coordinated outreach to a number of experts can be crucially important. Take the example of clinical guideline creation. Clinical guidelines are reviewed and updated in regular intervals, e.g. annually or biannually. Companies have to make sure that they disseminate any relevant new data and evidence they have generated to all relevant members of the medical society’s review committee in a coordinated and timely fashion and address any questions the experts might have after considering the information. Failure to deliver the data to all experts can result in a year-long (or more) delay of the compound being included in treatment recommendations and with that significant economic loss.
Currently, the tool most often used for managing engagement of such a group of external experts are spreadsheets. While universally available, spreadsheets are a not suited for the task: they are static, inconvenient to maintain and quickly outdated. Cloud-based systems have made it easier to update and maintain a master copy but version control remains an issue.
Using a purpose-built engagement tool addresses all of these concerns: the list of experts can be compiled and shared with all relevant internal stakeholders and communication and engagement with the external experts can be managed in a coordinated and timely fashion.
Use case 4: coordinating engagement – oncology care teams
Oncology is the single largest therapeutic area, highly competitive as well as dynamic and fast moving. It is also the TA with the most cross-functional and diverse care teams. On the healthcare provider side cancer care teams can include medical and radiation oncologists, oncology nurses and nurse practitioners, pathologists, genetic counselors, and pharmacists - to mention just a few. On the company side medical affairs, specifically medical science liaisons, as well as sales representatives, key account and reimbursement managers – among others - are tasked with supporting cancer care teams. The teams provide information about treatment options, the latest data and evidence, as well as the complex science underlying new treatments and advise on reimbursement issues. In addition, medical affairs may also engage specific oncology care team members in additional activities such as investigator-initiated trials, advisory boards or as speakers at conferences.
Coordinating many-to-many interactions and activities using current tools gets convoluted and inefficient very quickly. Unless everybody gets all the information they need when they need it, tasks will remain undone or efforts will be duplicated creating inefficiency and confusion. The ideal solution is a shared workspace for the relevant multi-functional team members that ensures that everybody has the same information and no questions and requests by the oncology care team go unaddressed.
Monocl Engage: addressing the engagement challenge
Monocl Engage offers such a shared workspace including tiered access that ensures that all cross-functional team members have visibility into all information they require in a compliant way. This guarantees that the oncology care team’s questions are answered and their scientific needs are met in a timely, coordinated and comprehensive way.
Spreadsheets and CRMs are valuable and address the problems they were created to solve very well. However, while a spreadsheet is an excellent tool for forecasting and financial modeling it is ill-suited as an engagement platform. While CRMs are indispensable for storing and tracking customer information, they were not purpose-built to track complex engagement activities involving cross-functional internal teams and the activities of multiple external stakeholders.
With Monocl Engage we have created such a platform specifically for the life science industry. It is a powerful tool that takes engagement planning from fractured and uncoordinated to integrated and efficient. Importantly, though, it will not only improve how team members within the organization coordinate and align their work but also provide external experts with a more streamlined experience.
If the use cases discussed here sound familiar or you have others you would like to discuss with us please get in touch. Our team member are happy to explore with you, how Monocl Engage can help you address your engagement challenges. You can schedule time to talk with one of our experts here.