5 Ways to Successfully Integrate Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) Into “In-House” Medical Affairs

By Dan Hennessy, PhD

One of the challenges for any field employee across industries is feeling connected to the “home” office and the headquarters team responsible for medical affairs strategy and operations. Medical science liaisons (MSLs) face similar challenges in the pharmaceutical industry connecting to the “Mother Ship.”  The number of MSLs have increased by over 300% according to the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA). As more companies shift towards specialty therapeutics, and cellular and gene based medicines, there will continue to be a greater need for MSLs to support education and incorporation into clinical practice. But how do you successfully integrate MSLs into the ‘in-house’ medical affairs team?

Below are 5 great ways to ensure your MSLs (field medical affairs team) are fully integrated and kept in the loop:

  1. Routine Communication

    With today’s technology, using FaceTime, Skype or Zoom with video conferencing capabilities can help MSLs feel connected to the company, its people and the culture within medical affairs. Using features like chat applications also helps with real time communication.  Having routine conference calls with medical directors that align to your MSL team’s therapeutic area strategy is critical.

  2. Internal Projects & Assignments
    Utilizing MSLs to work on in house projects is a great way to integrate them and to also leverage their incredible knowledge and skill-set. The only word of caution here is on balance. Sometimes MSLs can feel too overwhelmed working on achieving their goals in the field while also managing in-house projects. So beware of “mission creep.”
  3. Showcase Highlights & Successes
    Recognition and rewards go a long way. Use tools to highlight the strides your MSL team has made; “catch people in the act” of doing great work and call them out for it! Have they identified new clinical trial sites, helped to support a new investigator initiated study? Let the extended team know! One of the great ways to do this is via a newsletter that goes out via email. People can learn about what their field medical team is doing. It’s a great way to demonstrate value both ways.
  4. Consistency in Training/Certification
    Establish a consistent on-boarding and training program that the entire field medical organization does together. Taken a step further, one of the great ways we have seen Board Certification in Medical Affairs (BCMAS) implemented at some companies is where everyone in the organization gets trained and certified together. They do journal clubs on different topics and modules and build relationships in the process. It’s a great way to make the entire organization feel like ONE team and cultivate a culture of excellence.
  5. Awards & Recognition
    This one is the most fun! Granting awards and recognition of special achievement on a quarterly basis is huge. Attach the award with some monetary value or gift that provides special meaning. It’s a nice way to showcase the MSL team.

-Dan Hennessy, PhD

Vice President Field Medical Affairs

EMD Serono, Inc.