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September 17, 2021

Digital upskilling for medical affairs teams

Many teams don’t have the bandwidth for additional training, but effective digital tools are more accessible than you might think.
A person working at a laptop surrounded by images that evoke a software program.

By Luke Rogers, Within3 Senior Director of Business Partnerships

As pharma companies expand, many are struggling with digital upskilling employees without overloading them. 

At a recent Evidence Life Sciences event, I shared my insights on how Within3’s platform can help medical science liaisons (MSLs) engage KOLs in a new digital era. Post-COVID, this engagement landscape has altered dramatically. KOLs are increasingly time-poor as they keep up with demand, but right now, MSLs are still engaging stakeholders with one-to-one video calls, which limits their effectiveness. 

This problem isn’t new. MSLs have always needed a variety of capabilities to perform their job. From business leadership to digital innovation, staying ahead of the game is key for meaningful engagement with KOLs around the globe. But now, digital engagement is a necessary skill and a vital tool. 

Barriers to development

As with any training protocol, the biggest barrier is time, which in the early phases of learning a new skill is substantial. Taking an employee out of their workspace to train them means someone must fill the gap, and that has a domino effect across a company. At a time when pharma companies are already facing unprecedented demand, this delay can be costly. 

On top of this, the training gap (the employee doesn’t yet know what to do) and the implementation gap (the employee doesn’t know how to do it), increases this time commitment through the need for education modules. And finally, any reaccreditation time means that often digitally upskilling a team member with a new skill set is more costly than the benefits realized. 

The asynchronous solution

By engaging KOLs via asynchronous engagement – an always-on form of discussion in which participants can engage on their own schedule – MSLs can easily tailor digital engagement to meet the needs of KOLs. In doing this, constraints around time coordination can be avoided, and insights can be gained over a period of two to three weeks instead of two to three months. 

By using asynchronous engagement capabilities like those in Within3 Connect, MSLs don’t need to spend days training to use the platform, as the sessions are set up and deployed by the Within3 team. As a result, the capability gap can be closed, and the digital competency of medical affairs teams can be increased, without a severe time loss.

How does digital upskilling work in practice?

Asynchronous engagement is already happening: during the pandemic, the world’s top pharma companies used virtual engagement to keep work on track while adding a new digital tool to their skill set. 

For example, a Within3 client ran an engagement session between MSLs and multi-region KOLs. Each sub-regional session was led by the MSL in that area and had 12 standardized questions. Due to the asynchronous engagement environment, the session combined the local touch through empowering regional KOLs but brought the data together into one combined set. As a result, the team ended up with not only a high volume of insight but deeper, familiar relationships between MSLs and the regional KOLs. 

By using asynchronous communication, companies can add digital capabilities to their team without the time-intensive costs of before. And by doing this, MSLs can engage stakeholders, build relationships, and facilitate engagement in a more efficient, 21st-century manner. 

Watch my presentation to learn more.

Adding Digital Capabilities to Your Medical Affairs Teams from Within3 on Vimeo.

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