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The MSL as a Medical Affairs Strategic Asset: How Qualitative KPIs Unlock their True Potential

As Medical Affairs undergoes a digital transformation, the role of the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) can finally embrace their true potential as strategic assets. As highly trained professionals, MSLs are among the only employees who have the ability to not only drive Medical Strategy, but also shape it in a continuous, "fluid" way. However, to fully unlock their potential, it's essential to measure their performance effectively. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come into play.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Metrics: Finding the Balance

Traditionally, MSL performance has been measured using quantitative metrics, such as the number of scientific exchanges per year. While these metrics are straightforward and easy to track, they only tell part of the story. In addition, the method of capturing these metrics are by adopting sales tools to non-sales personnel.

This is where qualitative metrics come into the picture. Unlike their quantitative counterparts, qualitative metrics focus on the impact and quality of MSL-HCP interactions. They seek to evaluate the effectiveness of these interactions in terms of knowledge transfer, relationship building, and ultimately, the positive influence on patient care and treatment outcomes as well as the organization.

The Challenge of Measuring Qualitative Metrics

The shift from a purely quantitative to a more qualitative assessment of MSL performance is not without its challenges. One of the main hurdles is the lack of standardized tools and methodologies for measuring qualitative metrics. Unlike sales teams, where performance is readily available to measure, MSLs operate in a non-sales environment. This makes the adoption of traditional sales tools for performance measuring and KPIs not only difficult but often impractical and manual, wasting valuable time while creating frustration.

Furthermore, qualitative metrics are inherently subjective and can vary significantly from one interaction to another. This variability adds another layer of complexity to their measurement and interpretation.

The Importance of Qualitative Metrics for MSLs

Despite these challenges, the importance of qualitative metrics cannot be overstated. MSLs are not sales representatives; their primary goal is not to sell but to be strategic assets for their companies, gathering medical insights, educating and building relationships based on scientific knowledge. Therefore, measuring the quality of their interactions is crucial in understanding their true impact on healthcare professionals, patient outcomes, and showcasing value to their organization.

By focusing on qualitative metrics, companies can gain deeper insights into the effectiveness of their MSL teams. This, in turn, allows for more targeted and strategic deployment of resources, ensuring that MSLs are utilized in a manner that maximizes their value to the organization and ultimately to patient care.

In Conclusion

As the role of MSLs continues to evolve, so too must the ways in which their performance is measured. While quantitative metrics provide a baseline, it's the qualitative metrics that truly capture the essence of the MSL-HCP relationship. By embracing these metrics, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies can better understand and leverage the unique value that MSLs bring to the table.

To learn how you can apply a turn-key method towards implementing qualitative metrics, book a meeting with us and see how we can save time while providing instant ROI.


Nicolas Georgiades

Published date

April 10, 2024