How Medical Affairs Can Accelerate Value Creation


Medical’s strategic importance to life sciences is growing. The industry’s shift to precision medicine and hybrid engagement are reshaping expectations for how medical affairs teams create value.

At Veeva, we see medical at the forefront of the relationship not only with key opinion leaders and experts, but with influencers, payers, and patients. Given the demand for stronger patient centricity in specialty and rare disease, a deep understanding and effective communication of science and data will be key sources of differentiation and medical impact in the future.

In this thought starter, we’ll explore:

  • The key trends that are shaping medical affairs today
  • Where medical affairs should be focusing its strategic efforts
  • How medical affairs can translate intent into action

Industry shifts impacting medical affairs

1. Growing scientific complexity

More complex treatments mean KOLs place increasing importance on medical scientific liaisons (MSLs) to be their trusted advisors through scientific exchange. In turn, MSLs have to amplify this voice of the customer to their product, R&D, and commercial teams with speed.

2. Expanding stakeholder landscape

Patients, payers, and regulatory authorities now engage with medical with greater intensity and volume, to better understand data and value of treatments.

3. Customers as consumers

HCPs expect to have a seamless, consumer-grade experience from life sciences. This means companies must embrace digital channels and on-demand content through a coordinated approach.

4. Increasing demand to demonstrate outcomes

The volume of information available has exploded, and KOLs and Medical’s external and internal stakeholders now demand data showing clear articulation of value and outcomes.

5. Seamless external interface

With closer internal collaboration comes the need for stronger external coordination in all facets of stakeholder engagement. This is requiring greater technology adoption and tool development not just for medical affairs, but across commercial and R&D.

Expansion of the medical affairs horizon

Responding to fundamental shifts in the industry landscape and changes in customer behavior requires medical leaders to focus on four key roles to generate value across early product development, R&D, and commercial.

Precision Engager Engages in precise, impactful scientific exchange that delivers the right information at the right time in the right channel
  • Real-time, digital customer intelligence
  • CRM configured for medical needs
  • Omnichannel activation
  • Medical content fitness
Value Orchestrator Creates and delivers differentiated value propositions that respond to unmet needs
  • Intuitive insight capture
  • Integrated insight reporting
  • CRM as ‘one stop’ platform
  • Cross-functional operating model
Insight Generator Delivers timely and integrated actionable insights that drive enhanced decision making for field and product teams
  • End-to-end (E2E) insights strategy and KPIs
  • Suggestions strategy
  • Next best action engine
  • Fit-for-purpose AI
Patient Voice Amplifier Captures voice of the patient and seamlessly feeds into all product and customer-related activities across the product lifecycle
  • Data and analytics
  • Global data organization and CRM
  • E2E customer and product insights

Enabling precise scientific engagement

Digital channels are a core component of any impactful medical engagement approach, as evidenced by the high levels of digital usage since COVID-19 emerged in 2020. This growth has also fueled an explosion in the different types and volume of content to feed medical customer demand. Consider the following snapshot taken from our 2021 Veeva Pulse data:

  • Over 8 million minutes of scientific interactions have taken place virtually since July 2020
  • 42% of medical virtual meetings have three or more participants, indicating amplification of scientific engagement reach
  • 100% growth in content created by medical teams since 2019

Delivering the right information to the right stakeholder at the right time requires deep stakeholder intelligence about their motivations, needs, and preferences. A digital infrastructure would allow for actionable insights to be captured and shared so every scientific interaction builds on the last and delivers a consumer-grade experience.

That being said, medical leaders recognize precise scientific engagement is not about flooding KOLs and stakeholders with scientific information but pinpointing the highest value mode of action. They understand that the lightest touch may sometimes be an effective interaction in creating a valuable experience for the expert. The question then is, how? How can they build the right capabilities to offer precise impactful engagement?

Foundational capabilities for medical value generation

Medical affairs teams in companies big and small are investing their energy around five key capabilities to build the necessary foundations for growth and value creation:

1. CUSTOMER INTELLIGENCE: Modern, data-connected ecosystem that navigates stakeholder networks influencing and shaping the debate and discussion around a disease area and patient treatment pathway.

2. OMNICHANNEL ECOSYSTEM: Experience led with hybrid, two-way communication (that is, outbound and inbound interactions that make it easier for KOLs and HCPs to get the information they need it, when they need it) at the core.

3. INSIGHTS & ANALYTICS: End-to-end insights capability that delivers real-time, actionable insights driving responsive business decisions.

4. CONTENT FITNESS: Channel-agnostic content that delivers the right information, at the right time, in the way the HCP/KOL demands.

5. DIGITAL EXCELLENCE: Integrated approach to platforms, processes, and people to realize the transformative potential of digital.

These foundational capabilities provide the bedrock for medical to build on over time to advanced levels of engagement, insight, and content management. From our work with industry leaders, maturity in these five capabilities is a leading indicator of the relative strength and fitness of a medical affairs organization to the demands and expectations placed on it.

Critical success factors

Making these key capabilities an operational reality, and doing so in a scalable and sustainable way, requires careful management and tracking of the following critical success factors:

• SINGLE SOURCE OF TRUTH. A unified CRM that drives end-user utilization across medical teams can help ensure an accurate and holistic view of all interactions with external stakeholders. To gain this level of visibility, focus first on aligning to key medical processes of engagement, insights generation, and content management. Adopt a cross-functional perspective, leading from the business issues to be solved, not the functional territories of the organization.

• CHANGE MANAGEMENT. Create a value realization framework that recognizes that technology is not a silver bullet. Value must be realized from technology with a robust change approach that leads with people and process.

• A STRONG CASE FOR CHANGE. Provide a clear sense of ‘What’s in it for me?’ to field MSLs, building a thread between their daily priorities and the configuration of tools and technologies provided. A laser focus on the value proposition for end users will increase motivation for change and adoption of new ways of working.

• DESIGN FOR MEDICAL-SPECIFIC NEEDS. A common mistake companies make is taking ‘off-the-shelf’ products or commercial-led solutions and forcing a fit for medical usage. Leaders should carefully evaluate and design core tools and technologies with the specific needs of medical front of mind. This ensures medical stakeholders are equipped with tools, dashboards, and reports that resonate and enable them to perform their jobs to be done more effectively.

Key takeaways

  • Fundamental shifts in the industry landscape and customer behavior have created a need for medical affairs to fulfil expanded and new roles.
  • Precise, high-impact scientific engagement requires transformation across the medical operating model, beyond just the medical field.
  • Focus should be placed on a ‘fundamentals first’ approach, building the underlying capabilities that will deliver sustainable, integrated value now and for the coming years’ priorities.
  • Accelerated value creation in medical requires a fit-for-medical CRM system that end users want to use and provides a clear value proposition.

Louisa Peacock
Practice Manager, Medical Business Consulting Lead, Europe

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