Medical Affairs

As the demand for real-world evidence grows, physicians are less reliant on medical sales representatives and turning to more scientific sources of information. Thus, in recent years the Medical Affairs function has significantly broadened and increased in importance, as pharmaceutical companies are shifting their focus from products to outcomes.


Today's challenges

Traditionally, when recruiting for medical affairs roles, pharmaceutical companies tended to employ physicians with clinical experience and medical knowledge, but not necessarily business acumen. As they saw the job only as a supporting function to engage physicians and researchers, companies kept focusing on medical marketing instead.

These days, however, the medical affairs function assumes new responsibilities and faces a broader range of expectations. The traditional medical background is no longer sufficient to succeed, as medical affairs professionals must adapt to various external challenges, especially as market access is becoming increasingly difficult. To tackle these challenges, medical affairs professionals must be able to establish strong relationships with ever more sophisticated payers, patient and advocacy groups.

With a clear understanding of stakeholder needs, a strong value story and evidence to support it, medical affairs can be the driving force in a unified collaborative approach to delivering value to its stakeholders. However, identifying individuals with the right all-around skills is a challenge in itself.

Tomorrow's choices

Suppose you are looking to hire someone for a medical affairs role. In that case, the key is to look for candidates who meet clinical/technical criteria and have other strengths and specific skills needed to achieve success.

Learning agility: The ability to learn quickly and continuously is one of these skills, as candidates will not succeed through their current medical knowledge alone. Sooner or later, new products or the therapeutic area will replace the existing ones, so they will have to adapt.

Business acumen: Future medical affairs managers must be familiar with the entire commercialisation process and understand broader marketplace dynamics if they want to deal with other business leaders on the same level. At the same time, they need to be able to interpret scientific activities for commercial colleagues.

Strategic vision: Medical affairs professionals must work effectively in matrix organisations and cross-functional teams. Collaboration in lifecycle planning with commercial and product development colleagues is crucial to keep medical affairs in sync with the rest of the organisation.

Interpersonal skills: To understand and engage colleagues and external stakeholders, medical affairs person must work well in a team and communicate effectively across multiple channels, including conferences and meetings.

Understanding compliance: Medical affairs must operate effectively within the constraints of an increasingly compliance-driven environment.


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