Communicate relevant scientific information about a specific disease or therapeutic area to a healthcare professional
Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) play a vital role in the healthcare industry, most often in a pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or medical device company. They bring advanced scientific training (90% hold doctorates) in a specialized area and build on that body of scientific knowledge to develop key relationships with doctors, healthcare professionals (HCP), and other decision makers within the medical community. These relationships offer the medical community an expert resource on the science behind medical innovations – drugs, devices, other treatments, etc. – being developed and/or already on the market. MSLs are responsible for learning as much as they can about the science of these innovations, communicating the information to decision makers within the medical community, and maintaining relationships with these colleagues to keep open lines of communication between stakeholders. These positions require strong scientific knowledge, curiosity, and people skills.
The work of a Medical Liaison is to provide relevant scientific information about a specific disease or therapeutic area to a healthcare professional. Their process is often cyclical as maintaining the relationship is central to their work.
For this exercise, you are a budding MSL who is building a network. Think of someone in your field that is not an expert in what you research, but shares some general knowledge (i.e., mid-career academic researcher, clinical researcher, clinician, book editor, etc.). Imagine you are trying to schedule an appointment with this person to discuss your research.
Task 1: Identify relevant information to an audience (step 3 of the process)
Select a clinician or clinical researcher in your field of study. Conduct research about their interests and work that will help you to persuade him/her that what you are doing is both interesting and potentially beneficial to them. Consider finding information not only about their scientific work but also their educational background to situate yourself within a network that might help your case.
Make a list of 7 facts you think are most relevant.
Task 2: Pitch information (step 5 of the process)
You run into this person in a coffee shop and have 2 minutes to share information that will pique their interest and lay the groundwork for a longer meeting. Draft a 2 minute “elevator pitch” that explains clearly and succinctly how your work can be of value to them.
While an elevator pitch may seem like a one-sided information dump, the best case is a back and forth to determine what is most important to a given healthcare professional at their level of interest and background knowledge. Think of it like assembling something from Legos – you have many pieces that can fit together and build whatever informational package the healthcare professional wants, but you need to find out what that final product looks like so you can provide the right pieces at the right time. Much of this art is dependent on emotional intelligence and needs to be learned through practice.
Task 3: Draft an outline
Congrats! You successfully scheduled a 30 minute meeting. Draft an outline of talking points for a 10 minutes presentation get a meeting started.
Each slide/topic can be covered in 1 min and leave 2 mins for questions per slide (20 min total). This practice of leaving more time for questions than for presentation is increasingly accepted by the medical community and is currently being taught by top communications firms consulting on presenting scientific and business information. It is important to realize the difference between this style and that of academic presentation, where the goal may be to talk the entire time while anticipating and answering possible questions within the presentation. Psychological research has indicated that building in question time is critical because successfully handling audience objections is more critical to gaining trust than merely presenting information.
Task 1: List of facts about the audience or stakeholder.
Task 2: A written elevator pitch tailored and based on the knowledge level and demeanor of the healthcare professional and specific therapeutic area info as well as whether they sought out your services or if you are introducing yourself for the first time.
Task 3: Ten-slide talk outline on migraine pathophysiology and therapeutics.
Task 1 list:
Task 2 pitch:
Hi Dr. X, I’m Dr. Smarty with GenetiCorp covering the therapeutic area of Y. If you haven’t had a chance to meet with an MSL before, I’d like to explore how I can help you out. First, I am able to field therapeutic area and specific product inquiries that my commercial colleagues are not allowed to address. For example, I can speak about the company’s clinical research in depth as well address drug mechanism questions. Second, I can act as a research assistant for your scientific questions – I know you are extremely busy; I can research a topic and give you an answer based on the latest research. Third, I can be an educational resource for you, your colleagues, and staff. I can conduct educational presentations over a meal at an outside venue or at the office. [If applicable an approved external resource is available, one may offer it here]
Task 3 outline:
Skills used to perform this task:
Skills used in this field:
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Simulation author: Sarah Peterson, PhD in collaboration with Emory University and Georgia Tech’s NIH BEST programs
Simulation vetted by a professional in Atlanta