The Need for Strategic, Integrated Stakeholder Relations Planning in the Post-pandemic EnvironmentRead Now
By Michael Caso Managing Partner
My tenure in the healthcare industry spans more years than I care to recall. When working for a pharma company or an agency, a starting point for product business planning -- at any stage of commercialization -- has been the engagement of stakeholders as researchers, consultants or peer-to-peer educators.
The lexicon for this engagement has changed over time from Advocacy Development, to Thought Leader Development, to KOL or Opinion Leader Management to today’s nomenclature of Stakeholder Relations. “Ownership” in an organization for conducting these activities has also changed. Initially seated in Marketing, Stakeholder Engagement, is now Medical Affairs’ responsibility, whether centralized in a Strategic Planning Engagement position or localized in various functional areas such as Medical Science Liaisons and their transactional interactions to gain medical insights.
In addition, the actual Stakeholders have changed. There are internal team stakeholders, the traditional external scientific/medical targets, payers, as well as the emergence of patients and disease advocacy groups as key “movers and shakers.”
All of these changes in Stakeholder Relations terminology and ownership are further complicated by the current global pandemic that imposes access barriers. The pandemic has produced diminished current (and potentially future) opportunities for Stakeholder interactions at annual congresses (with over XXX# cancelled or shifted to virtual programs) and introduced barriers to productive one-on-one transactional engagements in offices or institutions. As a result, respectively top-tier Stakeholder relationships and critical medical insights have been negatively impacted. This scenario creates a greater need for integrated strategic cross-functional Stakeholder Planning in the accomplishment of key corporate, medical and product objectives.
Ok, so who are the team members that require integration and alignment on this internal team? The specific plan development participants will vary depending on the commercialization phase, global or domestic launch plan and size of organization. However, with Medical Affairs acting as the “bridge” or “conduit” between these departments, a potential list of key members includes: R&D, Commercial/Commercial Development, Patient Advocacy, and Market Access.
Of course, each of these team members brings with them a targeted set of objectives that may not necessarily be complimentary with those of other teammates and a supreme headache for the Medical Affairs person responsible for coordinating the plan integration.
More on these challenges in my next blog.
by Steve Casey - Managing Partner
When I was growing up, all the kids in the neighborhood had paper routes. Every day after school I carried 64 newspapers to 64 separate houses who subscribed to the paper. There were many times when a resident was waiting for me to hand the paper directly to them. As a teenager, I recall waiting with all my classmates for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated to be delivered. Similarly, I remember my dad, sitting down the night he received the New England Journal of Medicine and reading it cover to cover. In the current lexicon, we would call that a “highly engaged audience”.
Back in the old print medical journal days, attracting and engaging readers were quite different. The best we could do to reach our desired audience(s) was to publish or communicate via other means through targeted journals. All of our work to develop and communicate our information was dependent on the journal’s existing audience and the hope that they would read our article. There was no way of knowing of we were successful aside from checking with each individual HCP. Today’s publishing environment is much different. Today, the vast majority of medical journals have websites and distribute their content digitally, as well as in print form. The move to digital publication in healthcare communication is almost universal. Even the prestigious NEJM has more online than print subscribers. Research has also shown that the younger generation of HCPs prefer to read their scientific content in a digital format. The research also shows that there are a portion of older HCPs with a similar preference.
With this tremendous shift to digital distribution, it is important to remember the main objective of scientific exchange; dissemination of the scientific information to as many members of the desired audience as possible. In terms of the old print methodology and metrics, the digital environment obviously offers the greatest opportunity to impact a larger audience. However, if you are using the old print metrics, we are still looking at the journal and not the article. Our focus in scientific exchange is not the value of the journal, but the value of the article. No matter where the article is published, it is all about how many people have read the article. Fortunately, our new digital environment allows us to track and measure “engagement” (readership, viewership, etc) of the audience with the article. The value and depth of digital metrics in comparison to the old print metrics cannot be understated for enhanced scientific exchange.
As many of us have come to realize, today’s digital environment offers many new tools for publication planning and all types of scientific exchange. From open access, to author tools and article metrics, there are numerous ways to improve your scientific exchange and enhance the community’s understanding. At Omni Healthcare Communications, we have identified several different ways to take advantage of digital publishing and improve the effectiveness and productivity of your scientific exchange. In the coming weeks, we will be discussing ways in which current medical communications efforts can be enhanced, some of our unique Audience Amplification strategies and tactics, as well as the benefits of Audience Amplification for measuring your publication planning. Be sure not to miss the next installment and sign up to receive notification when our next posting occurs.
Omni-HC Blogs are written by members of the Omni-HC team.