Best-in-Class Medical Science Liaisons

Best-in-Class Medical Science Liaisons

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Description: This position paper proposes strategic and operational methods, tools and advice to boost Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) competence and performance. MSLs are the field team of medical affairs in pharma companies, who are dedicated to the development of relationships with KOLs and to high-level scientific communications. MSLs are often asked to cover a large scope of activities in collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders.

 
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Contents:
Best-in-Class
Medical Science

Liaisons
Tools

How to Boost
Medical Science Liaisons
Competence & Performance

Advice

Position Paper

Methods

February 2017
Smart Pharma
Consulting

Smart Pharma Consulting

Introduction

This position paper proposes strategic and operational methods, tools and advice to
boost Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) competence and performance
Context & Objective

 Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) play a pivotal role to maintain a close relationship with
KOLs1 who are instrumental in:
– Developing new products through their collaboration in pre-clinical and / or clinical trials

– Raising the awareness and the preference – indirectly or directly – for their products in the
mind of HCPs2 but also of health authorities, PAGs3, individual patients, etc.
 The increasing role of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) results from:
– New molecular entities becoming more and more complex…

– … and mainly prescribed by specialists, less and less inclined to be informed by medical reps
 In this position paper, Smart Pharma Consulting proposes:
– Methods, tools and advice to boost MSLs competence and performance
– KOL Partnership Model to recruit and manage KOLs in a more efficient and effective way
Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Key

2

Opinion Leaders – 3 Health Care Professionals – 3 Patient Advocacy Groups

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

1. MSLs’ role & responsibilities

MSLs are the field team of medical affairs in pharma companies, who are dedicated to
the development of relationships with KOLs and to high-level scientific communications
Overview

MSLs: Medical Science Liaisons1

Core activities2 of MSLs

 MSLs are one of pharma companies’ field teams
dedicated to enhance the full exchange of scientific
information with physicians, especially with KOLs

1

Build
relationships
with KOLs
(and other HCPs)

 MSLs have a more robust scientific background than
medical representatives, such as: MSc, MD,
Pharm. D, PhD degrees (90% of them have a
doctorate degree)

5
Gather and
report
competitive
intelligence data

 MSLs were first established by Upjohn
Pharmaceuticals (now Pfizer) in 1967 with the
objective to build a strong relationship with KOLs

2

Make scientific
communications
(congresses, staff,
symposia, etc.)

 The central activity of MSLs is to develop long-term,
peer-to-peer relationships with KOLs
Ensure trainings

 MSLs are in most cases affiliated to the medical
affairs department (whereas med reps. are affiliated
to the sales / marketing department)

4

Sources: MSL Society – “An insight into the emerging role of regional medical advisor in the
pharmaceutical industry”, Perspectives in Clinical Research, 2013 – Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

3

Support trials

(of speakers, med.
reps. and new
MSLs)

(both company
sponsored and
investigator initiated)

3

1 Other

names than MSLs can be used by pharmaceutical companies such as: Medical Liaisons,
Regional Medical Managers, Regional Scientific Managers, Scientific Affairs Managers, Medical
Information Scientists, Clinical Liaisons – 2 Excluding administrative time
February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

1. MSLs’ role & responsibilities

MSLs are often asked to cover a large scope of activities in collaboration with both
internal and external stakeholders
MSLs’ detailed core activities
 Identification, selection and collaboration with KOLs: setting-up of boards, organization and participation in scientific information
meetings, development of continuous medical education (CME) projects, patients or physicians associations funding, etc.
 Management of Investigator Initiated Studies (IIS)1: requests processing and follow-up
 Invitations to congresses / symposia, etc.
 Presence in congresses and
attendance to competitors’
presentations
 Desk research: on competitors,
on therapeutic areas, on medicoeconomic studies
 Critical review of scientific papers

 Training and certifications of
med. reps.
 Training of other functions, such
as marketing
 Training of speakers
communicating on companies’
products / therapeutic areas, etc.
 Writing of supports for FAQ&O2

1

Build relationships
with KOLs
(and other HCPs)

5

2

Gather and report
competitive
intelligence data

Make scientific
communications
(congresses, staff,
symposia, etc.)

4

Ensure trainings
(of speakers, med.
reps. and new
MSLs)

Support trials
(both company
sponsored and
investigator initiated)

Source: “An insight into the emerging role of regional medical advisor in the pharmaceutical industry”,
Perspectives in Clinical Research, 2013 – Interviews with 5 MSLs – Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

4

1 Also

3

 Answers to HCPs’ medical
questions
 Participation in scientific
information meetings (staffs, face
to face, etc.) for on- and off-label
indications, re. therapeutic areas
and products in the pipeline
 Presentation of studies in
congresses / symposia
 Identification of needs and
demands of KOLs for IIS
 Identification of high potential
centers and investigators for
company-sponsored clinical trials
 Support for studies carried out
and followed-up jointly with CRAs
(Clinical Research Associates)

called: Investigator-Initiated Trials or IIT – 2 Frequently Asked Questions & Objections
February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

1. MSLs’ role & responsibilities

MSLs must support KIMs1 who facilitate regional market access, KAMs2 who ensure
listing of products at hospital level and marketing and sales reps who promote them
The transversal role of MSLs
Key interactions with
corporate medical affairs
 Medical strategy:
Determined by
corporate medical
affairs and translated
locally by MSLs

Key interactions with marketing
 Brand teams: Integration of MSLs’ key activities/actions
 Coordination: Between marketing and MSLs projects with KOLs
 Training: MSLs may train marketing teams on medical issues

 Coordination:
Between corporate and
MSLs projects with
KOLs, especially re.
company-sponsored
clinical trials and IIS¹
 Training: Corporate
medical affairs ensure
trainings of MSLs
 Feed-back from the
field: On future KOLs,
on clinical trial centers
needs, on frequent
medical questions /
objections, etc.

MSLs

Key interactions with Key
Account Managers (KAMs)

Key interactions with Key
Institution Managers (KIMs)

Increasing number of interactions
between MSLs and KAMs:

KIMs, who interact with regional
health authorities and payers, may
ask for MSLs help to highlight the
medical or even medico-economic
profile / benefit of a brand or of a TA2

 Scientific presentations of
MSLs during hospital listing
processes

 Medical information:
Answers to scientific
questions / objections
 Local scientific
events: staffs and
scientific meetings coorganization (scientific
part by MSLs and
logistic by med. reps.)
 Training: med. reps.
on scientific / medical
environment related to
the promoted brand

 Local medical and
commercial strategy:
Development of
Integrated Regional
Strategic Plans and
monthly follow-up
meetings

¹ Key Institution Managers – 2 Key Account Managers – 3 Investigator Initiated Studies
– 4 Therapeutic Area

Source: “The changing role of the modern MSL”, Pharmaceutical Market Europe, October 2015 –
Interviews with 5 MSLs – Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

Key interactions with
sales team

5

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

2. MSLs’ issues & challenges

MSLs teams face recurrent issues that can be addressed if pharma companies
implement the relevant actions
Six main issues facing MSLs teams
Key issue

What to do?

 Role confusion persists in the mind of some
HCPs / KOLs

 Information campaigns to be carried out to
inform stakeholders of the specific role of MSLs
 Information should be provided through calls

1

Distinction from
sales / marketing

2

Disconnection with
corporate initiatives

 Initiatives initiated by corporate (clinical trials,
etc.) not coordinated with MSLs teams

 The coordination should be improved by
implementing standard communication
processes and rules

3

Distraction from
core activities

 MSLs, for being well trained and effective
professionals, cannot contribute to tasks such
as health economics, outcomes research, etc.

 MSLs’ responsibilities and objectives should be
clearly defined and internally communicated
through information campaigns

4

Extensive
geographical zones

 MSLs teams being small; they have to cover
large geographic areas and must undertake
frequent travels

 Alternative communication technologies such
as web conferencing, e-mailing,
teleconferences, etc., should be considered

5

Complex regulatory
environment

 Government agencies keep on scrutinizing on
how products are promoted by pharma
companies

 Pharma companies should focus on MSLs’
compliance with local regulations…
 … which should be carefully monitored

6

Trend towards
specialization

 The development of secondary care products
and the increasing complexity of science lead
to major training requirements for MSLs

 Pharma companies should keep on investing
on their MSLs’ scientific training

Sources: "Implementing a MSL team", Publicis Touchpoint – "Aligning the Activities and Goals of
Medical Science Liaison Teams for Strengthened Corporate Sustainability ", MSL World – Interviews
with 5 MSLs – Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

6

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

2. MSLs’ issues & challenges

MSLs’ most important challenge is certainly to create highly valued interactions and
trusted collaborative relationships with KOLs to support companies and products
MSLs’ challenges – Required skills – Expected outputs
MSLs’
challenges

 Keeping up with the latest scientific information
 Building strong and sustainable relationships with KOLs
 Managing multiple and diversified tasks

Required skills

 Complying with national regulations and internal
code of conducts
 Ensuring effective coordination with collaborators

Expected outputs

 Excellent scientific knowledge and understanding to carry out
peer-to-peer discussions during interactions with KOLs

 Ability to inform, challenge and / or convince KOLs based on robust
and updated scientific evidence

 Strong communication skills to properly position:
– The company’s therapeutic expertise
– A given product at pre- or post-launch stage

 Convince KOLs to carry out research or clinical studies
 Convince KOLs to support the company’s products

 Ability to manage projects with KOLs (e.g. while supporting
investigators-initiated studies or company-sponsored clinical trials)

 Identification of clinical research opportunities with KOLs
 Effective implementation of clinical research trials

 Ability to train / teach and / or develop support documents for
companies’ collaborators and / or HCPs
 Capture and share insight gathered through interactions between
KOLs’ and all customer-facing teams

 Improvement of participants’ knowledge, understanding of the
disease area and of the benefits of the company’s products
 Profiling and selecting the relevant KOLs to partner with
 Fulfilling of KOLs needs related to MSL activities

 Cooperate and coordinate activities with other customer-facing
collaborators and corporate teams interacting with KOLs

 MSLs being the preferential contact of KOLs, they will ensure
consistent interactions and address potential issues

 Comply with national regulations and ethical considerations
regarding disseminated information (e.g. off-label)

 Prevent the company to be sued and to be fined

 Ability to manage time, set priorities and adjust unforeseen
changes inherent to MSLs’ job

 Timely and proper execution of multiple tasks under the
responsibility of MSLs

Sources: “The changing role of the modern MSL” Pharmaceutical Market Europe October 2015 –
Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

7

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

3. MSLs’ Strategic Plan

MSLs’ activities should be integrated in a Regional Strategic Plan to ensure synergies
with marketing, sales, market access and patient adherence departments’ activities1
Integrated Regional Strategic Plan – Principle

Integrated
National Strategic Plan

Integrated
Regional Strategic Plan

“Men differ less in their abilities…

“Men differ less in their abilities…

… than the degree to which they use them”

… than the degree to which they use them”

December 2015

December 2015

Smart Pharma Consulting

Smart Pharma Consulting

1, rue Houdart de Lamotte – 75015 Paris – France
Tel.: +33 6 11 96 33 78 – Fax : +33 1 45 57 46 59
E - mail: jmpeny@smart -pharma.com
Website : www.smart - pharma.com

1, rue Houdart de Lamotte – 75015 Paris – France
Tel.: +33 6 11 96 33 78 – Fax : +33 1 45 57 46 59
E -mail: jmpeny@smart - pharma.com
Website : www.smart - pharma.com

Medical Section

Marketing & Sales Section

 Collaborators: MSLs
 Key clients: national and regional KOLs
 Key objectives: build strong and sustainable
relationships with KOLs to develop advocacy
 Key activities: interactions with KOLs,
scientific lectures at congresses, symposia,
staff meetings, support of research clinical
trials, training of speakers and collaborators
from marketing and sales teams, support of
Key Institution Managers (KIMs) and Key
Account Managers (KAMs) while meeting
their clients, competitive intelligence initiatives

 Collaborators: brand managers, area managers, medical
representatives
 Key clients: physicians, retail and hospital pharmacists
 Key objectives: strengthen brand preference
 Key activities:
– Marketers: crafting of a brand preference strategy
leveraging: brand attributes, perceived quality of
associated services and corporate reputation
– Sales forces: medical calls, invitations to medical
meetings, congresses and proposal for services likely to
strengthen brand preference

1 In

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

Access & Adherence Section

8

 Collaborators: Key Account Managers
(KAMs) and Key Institution Managers (KIMs)
 Key clients: regional health authorities,
regional payers, hospital directors, hospital
purchase managers, PAGs2, etc.
 Key objectives: facilitate the hospital listing,
and improve patient adherence
 Key activities: development of medicoeconomic studies to facilitate the market
access of brands and support of projects to
improve patients adherence, to promote the
proper use of drugs

compliance with the national regulations and the companies’ internal policies –
2 Patient Advocacy groups

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

3. MSLs’ Strategic Plan

MSLs’ activities should be defined in an Integrated Regional Strategic Plan in
coordination with marketing, sales, market access and adherence departments
Integrated Regional Strategic Plan – Structure of the Medical Section
Structure

 Situation analysis
– KOLs mapping (level of influence – advocacy behavior)
– Activity review (quantitative and qualitative analysis):
• KOLs’ partnership (calls, preparation of staff meetings, invitation to congresses,
support of IIS1 and / or of the company-sponsored clinical trials, etc.)
• Participation in congresses
• Training of speakers, of marketing and sales collaborators
• Support to Key Institution Managers (KIMs) in charge of regional market
access and patient adherence programs
• Support to Key Account Managers (KAMs) in charge of product listing at
hospital (or purchasing platform) levels in highlighting medical benefits
• Competitive intelligence data gathering and analysis

– Measurement and assessment of activities’ impact
– MSL Advanced SWOT analysis2
 Ambition & strategic priorities
– Ambition setting
– Strategic priorities to fulfill the ambition set (MSL Strategy Card)2
– Key activities to support strategic priorities:
• Shared activities with other departments (e.g. marketing, sales, KAMs, KIMs)
• Non-shared activities

– Monitoring of the quality of execution and impact of activities

Sources: KOL Partnership Model 2016 by Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Investigator

9

February 2017

Initiated Studies – 2 Developed by Smart Pharma Consulting

Smart Pharma Consulting

3. MSLs’ Strategic Plan

The Advanced SWOT is a useful tool to help MSLs analyze and evaluate regional
medical opportunities and threats as well as their own competitive position
Integrated Regional Strategic Plan – Specific tools of the Medical Section (1/3)
MSL Advanced SWOT
Opportunities

Relative
importance¹

Relative
importance¹

Threats

What regional changes are likely
to favor the medical environment?

What regional changes are likely
to disfavor the medical environment?

National & regional regulations relating to MSLs’
activities (e.g. off-label communication, invitation process to
congresses, grants, etc.)

National & regional regulations relating to MSLs’
activities (e.g. off-label communication, invitation process
to congresses, grants, etc.)

KOLs’ opinion & position re. the company and its
products, KOL’s level of influence

KOLs’ opinion & position re. the company and its
products, KOL’s level of influence

Scientific events: regional congresses, other meetings

Scientific events: regional congresses, other meetings

Strengths

Relative
importance¹

Relative
importance¹

Weaknesses

What are the absolute or relative advantages of the
company’s medical activity at regional level vs. competition?

What are the absolute or relative disadvantages of the
company’s medical activity at regional level vs competition?

1 Relationships with KOLs: quality and sustainability

1 Relationships with KOLs: quality and sustainability

Scientific communications: congresses, staff
meetings, symposia, etc.
3 Support to trials: company-sponsored trials and IIS2
4 Training of speakers, med. reps, new MSLs, etc.
5 Competitive intelligence: data gathering and analysis

Scientific communications: congresses, staff
meetings, symposia, etc.
3 Support to trials: company-sponsored trials and IIS2
4 Training of speakers, med. reps, new MSLs, etc.
5 Competitive intelligence: data gathering and analysis

2

2

¹ Ranking from 5 =very important to 1 = limited importance – 2 Investigator Initiated Studies

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

10

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

3. MSLs’ Strategic Plan

The MSL Strategy Card will help design a “one-page strategy” including his ambition,
the strategic priorities to meet it and the corresponding medical activities
Integrated Regional Strategic Plan – Specific tools of the Medical Section (2/3)
Therapeutic area B

MSL Strategy Card

Therapeutic area A

Regional Medical Ambition

Strategic priorities
Strategic priority #1
to achieve the ambition

Strategic priority #2
to achieve the ambition

Strategic priority #3
to achieve the ambition

Strategic priority #4
to achieve the ambition

Key activities1

Key activities1

Key activities1

Key activities1

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 To

11

February 2017

support the corresponding strategic priority

Smart Pharma Consulting

3. MSLs’ Strategic Plan

Qualifying MSLs’ activity is a challenge, however, several qualitative and quantitative
metrics can be considered for pharma companies to ensure a proper monitoring
Integrated Regional Strategic Plan – Specific tools of the Medical Section (3/3)
Recommendations of metrics to monitor MSLs’ activities
 Number of partnerships initiated with KOLs
 Number of contacts and / or time spent with KOLs in face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, staff meetings, etc.
 Qualitative assessment of KOLs partnership management

 Number of speeches delivered

 Number of competitive reports

1

 Number of congresses reviews

Build relationships
with KOLs
(and other HCPs)

 Number of articles authored
 Number of attendees

 Quality of information gathered

5

2

Gather and report
competitive
intelligence data

Make scientific
communications
(congresses, staff,
symposia, etc.)

 Number of people trained
 Qualitative feedbacks of trained
people

4

Ensure trainings
(of speakers, med.
reps. and new
MSLs)

Support trials
(both company
sponsored and
investigator initiated)

3

Source: Interviews with 5 MSLs – Smart Pharma Consulting analysis
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

 Qualitative feedbacks of
attendees
 Number of IIS¹ and / or companysponsored clinical trials submitted /
completed
 Number of investigators or patients
included in company sponsoredclinical trials

¹ Investigator initiated studies

12

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

An effective collaboration with KOLs requires to follow a rigorous recruitment
process that should be based on the gathering of accurate information
Recruitment & Management process of KOLs
The 4 key steps

1
 What to expect from KOLs?
 What does the KOL expect from us?

2
Targeting

 Who are the KOLs that should be
selected and why?

Implementation plan

 Which actions/interactions should
be carried out with KOLs?

Recruitment

Objective setting

3

Follow-up

 How to guarantee an effective/
efficient relationship with KOLs?

Management

4

 Relationships with KOLs should
be defined according to the set
objectives
 Then, the prospective KOLs
should be profiled and targeted
 Once KOLs have been selected,
their interactions with the pharma
company and the activities they
are expected to implement should
be defined and formalized in an
implementation plan
 The implementation of the plan
should be carefully monitored
with the help of KPIs (Key
Performance Indicators) and of
KEIs (Key Execution Indicators)

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

13

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

Before defining the activities to be carried out by KOLs, specific objectives, consistent
with a global objective, have to be set for each of them
Objective setting

1

Partnerships with KOLs should be part of a global strategy,
including also market access, medico-marketing and sales initiatives

Global objective
Define precisely what is expected from the partnership with KOLs,
in terms of direct or indirect benefits for the product under development or marketed by the pharma company

Specific objectives set by KOL

KOL 1

KOL 2

KOL 3

KOL 4

Define specifically what is expected from each KOL to support the product
and what support the latter expects from the pharma company, on a professional stand point

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

14

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

The objective of the KOL partnership and the corresponding activities will depend on
where the product is positioned on its life cycle
Examples of KOL roles according to the product life cycle

1

Product life cycle
R&D and registration phases
Research & preclinical phases

Phase
I

Phase
II

Phase
III

Commercial phase
Pricing &
reimbursement

Approval

Marketing

Examples of KOL roles
Identification of unmet
medical needs

Presentation of clinical results
and of product benefits
to regulators and payers

Product awareness
building & Influence on
prescribing choices1

Identification of
pharmacological
targets
Participation in medical
education programs2
Advice on target product
profile and labelling
Contribution to patient
management programs3

Implementation of R&D activities

1

Sources: Adapted from GBI Research, Market Rx, by Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

15

Through articles, lectures, etc. – 2 Through Continuous Medical Education (CME) programs –
3 Through projects carried out with patient advocacy groups (PAGs)
February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

The targeting phase should enable to identify the KOLs with whom a partnership
should be beneficial and to understand their networks of influence
KOLs targeting – Methodology (1/2)

2

Key questions

Selection criteria

What to do

 What are the relevant selection criteria to
be used considering the final objective?

 What information should be collected?

KOLs profiling

KOLs segmentation

KOLs selection

 How to collect and analyze this
information?

 Review of relevant criteria (e.g. level of influence,
scope of influence, scientific/media awareness,
membership of a network, etc.)
 Selection of a limited number of relevant criteria

 Internal / external databases review to qualify KOLs
 Assessment of the number of publications, quotes,
lectures during conferences and congresses, etc.

 What is the degree of interest and the
likely support of the KOL for the
product?

 Mapping of preselected KOLs on a matrix according
to the most relevant criteria

 Who are the KOLs that should be
selected to partner with?

 Selection of KOLs

 For which kind of partnership?

 Identification of KOLs’ networks

 Preliminary definition of the type of partnerships to
be carried out with the targeted KOLs

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

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February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

Relevant selection criteria and gathering of accurate and reliable information about
the KOL profile are of utmost importance to optimize the value of the partnership
KOLs targeting – Methodology (2/2)

2

Screening process (illustrative)
Filter 1
Field of expertise

Discarded
physicians

Filter 2
Level of reputation
& scope of influence

# of
specialists in
the country

Discarded
physicians
Pre-selected
physicians

Discarded
physicians

Inclusion criteria
Pre-selected
physicians

 Cardiology (hypertension, arrhythmias, heart
failure, surgery, valvulopathy, etc.)

 Oncology (medical, radiation and surgical
oncology, hematology, brain cancer, etc.)
 Rheumatology (osteoporosis, rheumatoid
arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, etc.)
 Technical expertise (design of clinical
studies, biostatistics, epidemiology, public
healthcare, patients’ adherence, etc.)

Filter 3
Advocacy potential

Inclusion criteria

Pre-selected
physicians

 Reputation of the hospital /
ward the KOL is working for
Inclusion criteria
 Reputation of the KOL (based on
status, honors, publications, etc.)  Communication skills
 Power of influence (on peers,
 Inclination to communicate
health authorities, PAGs1)
(in favor of a product)
 Scope of influence (international,
national, local)

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Patient

17

February 2017

advocacy groups

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

The proposed matrix is a useful tool to prioritize the candidate KOLs to partner with
and to pre-define the type of partnerships that could be considered with them
KOL targeting – Segmentation & selection

Higher

A
J

D

Moderate

B

C

E
K

G
F

 The proposed matrix facilitates the final
selection (targeting) of pre-selected KOLs
based on their level of influence and their
inclination to support the development and/or
the use of the pharma company product
 The matrix helps to define the kind of
partnerships to be set with the KOLs
 The prioritization of the targeted KOLs, should
also take into account:

Lower

Level of influence (Expertise x Reputation)

2

L

Lower

I

Moderate

– The life cycle of the product
H

– The networks of influence of the KOLs

Higher
Priority 1

Advocacy potential

Priority 2

Priority 3

Not a Priority

Networks of influence amongst KOLs

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

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February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

Qualification of KOLs should be documented with reliable data collected through desk
research and field research (e.g. interviews of peers and of prospective KOLs)
How to qualify KOLs?

2

What data to collect?

How to collect data?

How to analyze data?

 Status (e.g. head of medical department, professor,
age, public vs. private practice, place(s) of practice)

 Internet, direct search

 Being head of hospital and professor is a plus

 Field of expertise/interest in a therapeutic area, in a
technique, etc.

 Probing by MSL1, medical reps
and other collaborators of the
pharma company

 KOLs should express their field of interest over
the long term and their expectations from a
partnership with the pharma company

 Level of reputation & scope of influence

 Field research (e.g. peers,
pharmacists interviews, etc.)

 Internal or national level is preferable in general to
local level (but it depends on the objective)

 Communication skills

 Analysis of past performances
 Interviews of peers

 Verbal communication (e.g. lectures, courses)
 Written communication (e.g. articles, websites)

 Type & level of communication
– # articles published (impact factor2, peer-/ non
peer reviewed journals, position as an author…)
– # of trainings p.a. (CME3)
– Teaching activity at university
– Presence on the Internet
– # of lectures (congresses, round tables)
– # of quotes by journalists in current year

 Review of scientific articles
published (PubMed/Medline,
Google scholar, Expertscape)
 Probing by collaborators of the
pharma company and peers
interviews to evaluate trainings,
teaching activities and lectures
 Google searching for presence
and quotes on the Internet

 The higher the impact factor is, the better

 Membership in learned societies
– Title / position / activities

 On the website of the learned
societies or by calling them

 Being a member of the management board is a
plus

 Inclination to partner with a pharma company and  Probing by collaborators of the
to support its products
pharma company

 Each KOL should be ideally positioned as 1st or
last author in articles
 The higher the number of trainings, teaching
seminars and lectures, the better
 Perceived quality of articles, training, teaching and
lectures should be assessed

 They should clearly express their interest in the
product and the company…
 … and in the types of partnerships they are
looking for

Medical Science Liaison – 2 It measures the average frequency with which the article has
been cited in a particular year. It is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal by
calculating the number of times its articles are quoted – 3 Continuous medical education

1

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

19

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

To convince KOLs to partner, it is important to take into account their expectations and
to highlight the benefits they will draw from it, in terms of professional development
How to convince KOLs to partner?

2

What do they want?

What should be proposed?

 Qualify a KOL to design a partnership that will
fulfill his professional expectations
(simultaneously with that of the pharmaceutical
company):

 Based on the knowledge and understanding of
the KOL’s professional expectations…
 … propose ideas – to be discussed – of activities
to be carried out through the partnership

– Is the KOL yet a partner of the pharmaceutical
company?

 Emphasize the benefits the KOL will draw in
terms of personal awareness and competence
development through the partnership:

– What has qualitatively and quantitatively his level of
involvement been?

– Increasing awareness and fame through publication of
articles, interviews in media, presentations during
congresses, lectures during medical meetings, etc.

– What has his feed-back from previous collaborations
been?
– What is his mid- to long-term professional ambition?

– Increasing reputation and extending influence by
participating to scientific works (e.g. clinical trials)

– What does he expect from pharmaceutical companies
in general, and specifically?

– Professional development through the access to
recent information, to high education programs1, by
working in new research/medical areas, etc.

– Is he looking for a long-term partnership?
– Is he more inclined to enter into a “win-win”
partnership or a “fee-for-service” transaction?

– Funding of Investigator Initiated Studies (IIS)

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1

20

February 2017

Especially for Rising Opinion Leaders

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Recruitment

The KOL ID card is a practical tool which contains in one single page the most
important information required to qualify and then recruit pre-selected KOLs
Tool to facilitate the recruitment process: KOL ID card

2
KOL name

(First name – surname)

Medical
status

MD – head of medical department –
professor of medicine, etc.

Location

Specialty

(Oncology – cardiology, etc.)

Medical
setting

Private hospital – public hospital –
teaching hospital – private office

Country

Address & City

Specific objectives for the pharma company •
Specific benefits for the KOL



Assessment1

Items

Facts / Rationale

Field of expertise/interest
in the therapeutic area



Level of reputation

Low -Medium-High



Scope of influence

Low -Medium-High



Advocacy potential

KOL
Profile

International National - Local

Low -Medium-High

Source



Recommendations

Priority1

Medical department

Low -Medium-High

Rationale


Final decision
Selection: YES - NO

Rationale:

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Circle

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February 2017

your answer

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

An effective collaboration with KOLs requires to follow a rigorous recruitment
process and to develop a precise action plan along with monitoring tools
Recruitment & Management process of KOLs
The 4 key steps

1
 What to expect from KOLs?
 What does the KOL expect from us?

2
Targeting

 Who are the KOLs that should be
selected and why?

Implementation plan

 Which actions/interactions should
be carried out with KOLs?

Recruitment

Objective setting

3

Follow-up

 How to guarantee an effective/
efficient relationship with KOLs?

Management

4

 Relationships with KOLs should
be defined according to the set
objectives
 Then, the prospective KOLs
should be profiled and targeted
 Once KOLs have been selected,
their interactions with the pharma
company and the activities they
are expected to implement should
be defined and formalized in an
implementation plan
 The implementation of the plan
should be carefully monitored
with the help of KPIs (Key
Performance Indicators) and of
KEIs (Key Execution Indicators)

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

22

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

Pharma companies should balance what they expect from KOLs in terms of activities
and what they give them in terms of services to ensure a win-win partnership
Services proposed to & activities carried out by KOLs

3

Services proposed to KOLs (Illustrative)

Activities carried out by KOLs (Illustrative)

KOL Digital Platform (2.0)1
Access to scientific
information
(e.g. articles, databases,
expert reports, clinical cases)

Technical support
to publish articles
(e.g. medical writing, proof
reading, peer pre-review)

Slide kits for
training/teaching
programs

Promo
material
review3

Article
writing

Organization of peer
meetings with top
international KOLs
(e.g. congresses,
symposiums, forums, etc.)

Participation
to scientific
studies

Technical & funding
support for Investigator
Initiated Studies

Lectures
during
symposia

KOLs
Training
of peers /
CME4

Press
conference

Ad hoc support
on demand basis
(e.g. media training, training
on statistics, change
management in a ward)

Advisory
board
member

Participation
to internal
meetings5

KOL Customer Manager2

limited to KOLs – 2 Each KOL should have a dedicated Customer Manager (e.g. a MSL) –
as Visual aids, leaflets for patients – 4 Continuous Medical Education – 5 Such as lectures to
sales forces, face-to-face meetings with the marketing team, etc.

1 Access

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

3 Such

23

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

If KOLs share the objective of the pharma company and accept to communicate, the
following means can influence medical practices and help better position products
Potential value of KOL activities (1/2)

3

 KOLs may support the pharmaceutical
company’s priorities by communicating in
scientific journals, professional magazines
or lay press regarding:
Article
writing

 While giving lectures, KOLs may accept to
cover topics of interest for the company…

– New medical approaches, new guidelines,
patient management, etc. in a given
therapeutic area, etc.)
– The position of its products in the
therapeutic strategy

Lectures
during
symposia

 Perceived reliability by readers: H
 Number of exposed readers: L to H

 KOLs may also share their own experience
as a prescriber of the company’s products
 Perceived reliability by participants: M
 Number of exposed attendants: L

 KOLs may communicate to their peers, to
pharmacists, to nurses, etc., during training
sessions regarding:

 Press conferences enable to have indirectly
access to a larger number of readers

Press
conference

 … and/or position their products vs. direct
competitors or indirect therapeutic
alternatives

 The messages conveyed by KOLs may
sometimes be modified by journalists

Training
of peers /
CME1

 It is rare for KOLs to make strong
statements in favor of a product during a
press conference
 Perceived reliability by readers: M
 Number of exposed readers: H

– Medical topics of interest for the pharma
– The position of its products in the
therapeutic strategy

 In such circumstances, KOLs may convey
strong messages, if they decide to do so
 Perceived reliability by participants: M-H
 Number of exposed attendants: M
H: Higher – M: Medium: – L: Lower

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Continuous

24

February 2017

Medical Education

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

KOLs can be of great value through direct collaboration (by training, informing,
giving advice, etc.) with medical, marketing and sales teams of the pharma company
Potential value of KOL activities (2/2)

3

 KOLs may play an effective role during
internal meetings by:
Participation
to internal
meetings

 KOLs may collaborate with the marketing
team by contributing to the creation of
promotional materials

– Informing / training medico-marketing-sales
teams about scientific trends and position of
competitors
– Role playing with sales reps (e.g. selling
forums)
– Being invited as a “guest star” to show
collaborators the ability of the pharma
company to partner with top medical leaders

Promo
material
review

– Suggesting messages
– Developing a scientific rationale to support
messages/claims of the products
– Assessing and editing the content of
promotional materials (visual aid, booklet…)

 KOLs, especially if they are supposed to
sign or co-sign the corresponding
publication, may be very helpful to:

 Advisory board meetings with KOLs should
be preferred to individual meetings with
KOLs when the objective is to:
Advisory
board
member

 Thus, they can create value by:

– Generate innovative ideas or concepts
(brainstorming sessions)
– Estimate key market trends (including
stakeholders opinions and behaviors)
– Obtain a consensual opinion regarding
market environment, products development,
marketing strategy, etc.

Participation
to scientific
studies

– Participate to the design of the study
– Carry out the study (either about a given
pathology only or a pathology & its
treatments involving the pharmaceutical
company product)

 Involvement of KOLs in medical/clinical
studies will depend on their field of interest

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

25

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

The development of a “KOL Partnership Plan” or K2P is a centerpiece to maximize
the probability of success while partnering with KOLs
3

KOL Partnership Plan (K2P) – Why?

 The development of a clear – precise – concise and shared
implementation plan, called “KOL Partnership Plan” or K2P – between
KOLs and pharmaceutical companies – will ensure that:
– The objectives of the collaboration is well understood and agreed upon
– The reciprocal expectations are well defined and accepted
– The respective commitments are fulfilled and in due time

 The preparation of an implementation plan increases the probability of
success of the partnership over time…
 … and minimizes the risks of mutual disappointments
 The KOL Partnership Plan (K2P) will facilitate the coordination and the
communication across the pharmaceutical company and thus optimize
synergies across market access, medical, marketing and sales
departments

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

26

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

To build a useful and effective “KOL Partnership Plan”, it is recommended to follow
the 5-step process proposed here-below
3

KOL Partnership Plan (K2P) – How?
 Step 1:

Design of templates that can be shared with the KOLs and the pharmaceutical
company’s collaborators (i.e. from market access, medical, marketing departments)

 Step 2:

Filling up of the templates by the KOL Customer Manager assigned by the
pharmaceutical company to the KOL (e.g. MSL) in coordination with the Medical
Director and possibly with the Marketing Director1

 Step 3:

Review and adjustment of the content of the K2P by the MSL with the KOL:
– Objectives
– Services proposed by the pharmaceutical company
– Activities to be carried out by the KOL
– Fees to be paid at a fair market value (if any)
– Monitoring process of each service/activity

 Step 4:

Follow up of the K2P:
– Prepare the planned services/activities
– Analyze the quality of execution of these services/activities
– Reconsider – if not relevant anymore – planned services/activities

 Step 5:

Assessment of the partnership:
– Twice a year by the KOL Customer Manager and the KOL to measure the level of
mutual satisfaction and decide about potential adjustments to be carried out
– Once a year by a committee including: the Medical Director, the Marketing Director,
the KOL Customer Manager, and possibly the General Manager, to evaluate the
KOL partnership and decide about potential adjustments

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 If

27

February 2017

allowed by national and corporate regulations

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

The “KOL Partnership Plan” should include key information extracted from the KOL
ID card1, specify the objectives of the partnership, its scope and duration
KOL Partnership Plan (K2P) – Model: Introduction

3
KOL name

(First name – surname)

Medical
status

MD – head of medical department –
professor of medicine, etc.

Medical
setting

Private clinic – private hospital –
public hospital –
teaching hospital

Interest/
Expertise

(e.g. Pulmonology, cardiology, etc.)

Reputation/
Influence

Private hospital – public hospital –
teaching hospital – private office

Advocacy
potential

Address & City & Country

KOL Customer
Manager

(First name – surname – position
in the company)

Role

Objectives of the
partnership

Coordination (Indicates the other collaborators
whom to coordinate)
with…



Specific scope

of the partnership2

Duration of the
partnership

(Describe briefly his role vis-a-vis
the KOL)







Starting date

Ending date





See the proposed format p.21 – 2 Examples: Development of a digital tool to improve patients
adherence, Coordination of a multi-centric study, Expert support to estimate the medicoeconomic value of a new product, Lectures during medical meetings organized with peers, etc.

1

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

28

February 2017

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

The “KOL Partnership Plan” should also describe the services proposed to the KOL
and the activities the latter will carry out, as well as monitoring indicators
3

KOL Partnership Plan (K2P) – Model: Service/Activity Card1

4

Pharma company
objective

Service or Activity #1




KOL
objective

Key step description



Quality of execution Indicators
Expected
Achieved



Expected impact Indicators
Expected
Achieved















Timing


Comments




Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 This

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February 2017

card should be duplicated by service/activity

Smart Pharma Consulting

4. KOL Partnership Model

Guidelines for Management

Key execution and performance indicators are essential to optimize the chance of a
proper execution of services/activities and of a win-win partnership
Examples of tool to monitor partnerships with KOLs

4

Pharma company’s services
 Access to scientific information
 Organization of peer meetings with
top international KOLs
 Technical support to publish articles
 Technical & funding support to IIS1
 Slide kits for training/teaching
programs
 Ad hoc support on demand basis

KOLs’ activities
 Lecture during symposia

Key execution indicators (KEIs)

 Global level of satisfaction of KOLs (10-point scale)

 Interest (10-point scale)

 Inclination of KOLs to support the pharma company products:
 Utility (10-point scale)

– Number of lectures / trainings / publications

 Practicality (10-point scale)

– Quality/objectivity of messages conveyed to peers,
pharmacists, patients, etc.
 Increased level of KOLs awareness and reputation

 Implementation2 (10-point scale)

 Increased level of products awareness and reputation

Key execution indicators (KEIs)
 Interest (10-point scale)
 Utility (10-point scale)

 Training of peers

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

 Practicality (10-point scale)
 Implementation2 (10-point scale)

Key performance indicators (KPIs)
 Global level of satisfaction of attendees (10-point scale)
 Inclination of attendees to support & prescribe the product:
– Number of lectures / trainings / publications
– Quality/objectivity of messages conveyed to peers,
pharmacists, patients, etc.

 Article writing

 Acceptance by recognized journals (scientific,
medical, or in lay press, etc.)
 Post on highly regarded websites

 Press conference

 Number of journalists and quality of articles






 Participation in scientific studies

 Implementation (number of patients recruited,
timing, cost vs. plan)

 Publication of an article in a renowned scientific journal
 Impact of the publication on product reputation

Impact factor (for scientific/medical journals)
Number of broadcasted issues for lay press
Number of views / likes on Internet
Contribution of content to support the product

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

1 Investigator

30

February 2017

Initiated Studies – 2 Logistics, timing, cost vs. plan

Smart Pharma Consulting

Conclusions
9 Recommendations to Boost MSLs’ Competence & Performance
1. Clarify MSLs’ roles and responsibilities to avoid
confusion with medical representatives

8. Apply the KOL Partnership Model as follows:
a. Define clear and precise objectives for each of them

2. Maintain a high scientific knowledge and
understanding to guarantee high quality
interactions and relationships with KOLs

b. Build the relationship on the basis of an exchange of
services rather than a fee-for-service deal

4. MSLs’ activities should be consistent with their
ambition and their strategic priorities, as
defined both at national and regional levels

c. Ensure an open and transparent relationship

5. Develop an Integrated Regional Strategic Plan1
including a Medical section formalizing MSLs’
ambition, strategic priorities and key activities,
in line with marketing, sales, market access and
adherence departments priorities

e. Don’t ask KOLs to promote your products, which
would affect his reputation and your company’s one

d. Make sure that the services provided to the KOL
contribute to fulfill his needs and expectations

f.

g. Assign a KOL Customer Manager (e.g. a MSL) who
will be the KOL-preferred contact point and who will
ensure alignment and information sharing between all
collaborators of your company in contact with him

6. Define quantitative and qualitative metrics to
monitor MSLs’ activities and identify potential
corrective measures to be introduced
7. Optimize MSLs’ limited time by prioritizing their
efforts and using new communication
technologies, whenever relevant

9. Define internal guidelines and a control
process to prevent any compliance issues that
could damage the corporate reputation

1 Taking

Sources: Smart Pharma Consulting
Best-in-Class MSLs – How to boost their Competence & Performance

Make the best use of the KOL limited time by
organizing useful exchanges

31

February 2017

into account national regulations and internal company’s rules

Smart Pharma Consulting

Smart Pharma Consulting
Consulting company dedicated to Strategy, Management and Organization services in the pharmaceutical sector

1 Strategy

Core capabilities

 Assessing the attractiveness of markets (Hospital

2 Management
 Facilitation and structuring of strategic
thinking for multidisciplinary product teams

/ retail innovative products - Vaccines - OTC - Generics)

 Key challenges identification
 Strategic options formalization
 Resource allocation optimization program

 Growth strategy
 Optimization of marketing / sales investments
 Development of a company in the hospital market
Business
 Valuation for acquisition
 Portfolio / franchise assessment

 Training of marketing and market research
teams to sales forecast techniques (modeling
and scenarios development)

 Extension of product life cycle performance

 Development and implementation of a "coaching
program" for area managers

 Improvement mature products performance
 Adaptation of price strategy

 Sales reps coaching
 Regional action plans roll-out

 Defense strategies vs. new entrants

 Development and implementation of a "sales
techniques program" for sales forces (STAR1)

 Competitive strategies in the hospital market
 Strategic partnerships companies / pharmacies

1

Sales Techniques Application for Results (training courser

Organization

3 Organization
 Rethink of operational units organization
 Improvement of sales force effectiveness
 Improvement of the distribution channels covering the hospital and retail markets
 Development of a strategic planning process

1, rue Houdart de Lamotte – 75015 Paris – France • Tel.: +33 6 11 96 33 78 • E-mail: jmpeny@smart-pharma.com • Website: www.smart-pharma.com

Smart Pharma Consulting