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.
Omni-HC Blogs are written by members of the Omni-HC team.