Tis the Season…for Conference Planning

As we come out of the holidays , in the United States, some of the greatest minds in medicine and healthcare are gathered this week at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, likely hearing the latest and greatest health tech innovations for biotech, pharma, and life sciences. There is a lot of discussion coming out of the conference of healthcare in a post-COVID world and how that has shaped innovation.

business people meeting in a conference roomBut for pharma’s part of innovation, we truly have to start and connect with the treatment and thought leaders in medicine to understand how their world has changed, what innovation means to them, and understand how to best engage with them. Commercial pharma teams have had to pivot multiple times in order to continue establishing value-added peer-to-peer relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

Specifically, a lot has changed in the last ten years. This includes how Medical Affairs teams and MSLs find, source and engage strategic thought leaders (KOLs) and healthcare providers (HCPs).

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In a survey in 2013, in the Journal of Therapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science, KOLs wanted the following out of MSLs:

  • They must first and foremost present themselves as ethical and unbiased.
  • They want MSLs to help them stay up-to-date on industry information and happenings, saving time for the busy KOL.
  • They want MSLs to understand the KOL’s key information needs are around their own pipeline and research.
  • They would like to get to know their MSLs better, to understand their background and experience, and to see them more often.

In a survey conducted nearly 10 years later by MSLS, KOLs wanted the following out of MSLs:

  • KOLs are still expecting and willing to engage with MSLs
  • KOLs find and want continued value from their MSL interactions.
  • KOLs surveyed reported it was “somewhat important” or “very important” to maintain contact with MSLs during the pandemic (the beginning of virtual engagements)
  • Prefer to communicate once a month.

The biggest difference in 10 years: MSLs and MSL leadership have a high need for valuable insights, analytics as well as data and technology like AI and machine learning. They can leverage this information to prepare, plan and manage their MSL/KOL communication and engagement expectations, as well as create realistic KOL engagement plans.

Conference Season is Upon Us

It’s known that one of the best places to engage with HCPs is at congresses. According to an article from PM Live, HCPs like congresses because they have the benefit of being able to access what they want, when they want it. At the same time, Pharma has the ability to reach far bigger and broader audiences and, through online metrics, better understand engagement with the congress output.

doctor talking to medical studentsThis success underscores the viability of a future where in-person, virtual and hybrid events co-exist across the calendar. The article highlighted a study showing that 72% of HCPs believe that virtual attendance is as good for learning as attending in-person as this can be done from any location such as the comfort of their home..

Now What?

Empowered with this data and technology, and knowing congresses are back – both in-person and virtual – how will you best prepare for this new type of reality?

Businessman meeting with doctorsH1’s research with MSLs in 2021 indicated that most HCPs spend between 1-5 hours a month with field teams. If we know from previous research that they only want to see MSLs once a month, that means congresses are your best chance to shine.

In other words, how do you plan for and go to congresses with confidence?

Let’s take a look. Here are a few of our best hints:

  1. Leverage insights on individuals – See the key people you care about and all of the congresses where they are speaking
  2. Keep track of KOLs that you intend to engage with at the conference & keep up to ate with their most recent activities
  3. Identify and track KOL activity: Tag and track KOLs for a specific congress

Whether in person, virtual or a hybrid–insights and data are your best chance to plan and prepare for this year’s key congresses. If you’d like to dig a little deeper, download our new Industry Guide on Conference Planning.

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