AI as a Catalyst for Cross-Functional Collaboration
Speaker: Amit Lalwani
The traditional model of Medical Affairs, characterized by face-to-face interactions, paper-based processes, and siloed operations, is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced, data-driven healthcare landscape. As the complexity of medical science and the need for personalised care continue to grow, healthcare professionals and patients alike are seeking more efficient, convenient, and engaging ways to access and share information.
In this episode, we speak with Amit Lalwani, Omnichannel Lead & member of the MAPA/MAPS 2023 Medical Affairs Summit Core Planning Team, about the Medical Affairs digital revolution in which technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data analytics, mobile applications, and ChatGPT, are revolutionizing the healthcare industry, enabling Medical Affairs professionals to access and analyse vast amounts of information, generate real-world evidence, and deliver targeted, personalised content to HCPs and patients across multiple channels. These digital technologies are not only helping to streamline processes and improve efficiency but also creating new opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and value creation within the Medical Affairs function.
Following is an automated transcription provided by otter.ai. Please excuse inaccuracies.
Garth Sundem 00:00
Welcome to this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series elevate. I’m your host Garth Sundem, communications director at maps. And today we’re speaking with Amit Lalwani omnichannel, lead and executive committee member of the Medical Affairs professionals of Australasia, and member of the core planning team for the MAPA/MAPS Medical Affairs summit in Sydney, Australia, November 8 through 10, which you should all go to if you’re in the neighborhood. So Amit what caught my eye about the digital plenary at the map of maps Summit is we’ve been chatting a lot lately about AI, Gen AI, all sorts of digital tools, digital analytics, predictive analytics. But the plenary states that AI and digital transformation is a catalyst of cross functional collaboration. So why why is digital a catalyst for Medical Affairs cross functional collaboration?
Amit Lalwani 01:11
Yeah, thank you. So firstly, thank you, Garth, for for having me. It’s, it’s really great to be here today and to talk to you about this really, really important topic about digital, you know, whether it’s digital transformation, Omni channel transformation in Medical Affairs, and really, what’s the hesitancy in employing and applying these transformation technologies within Medical Affairs. So now, if I can start by saying, you know, the traditional model of Medical Affairs, that we know, it’s characterized by face to face interactions, people based processes, and, you know, to, to, to to certain extent, it’s siloed operations. Now, these, now, this model is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s fast paced, you know, data driven healthcare landscape that we have, right. And so as the complexity of the medical science and the need for personalized care, continue to grow. Healthcare professionals, and and even patients, you know, they’re seeking for more efficient, convenient and engaging ways to access and share information. And so one of one of the sort of tools that, you know, healthcare professionals and patients alike, you know, go to seek for this information is a now it mainly, you know, like aI models, like, you know, if I can give an example, such as chat GPP, like, you can simply ask the question, and it’s going to give you a response. So, I guess we’re what I’m trying to say over here is, you know, there is a high demand for these things. So what’s the hesitancy in Medical Affairs?
Garth Sundem 03:01
Before before we get to the hesitancy, I want to go back to the silos. And so, you know, yes, we see that demand for digital, everybody’s excited about, again, you know, big data analytics, the power of real world evidence, even even some of the chat body things, chat, GPT, and whatnot. But can’t we still use those in our nice little silo? Why is it Why is it a catalyst? For cross functional collaboration?
Amit Lalwani 03:32
I think, look, it’s a great, great question. So I guess I understand a little bit where that hesitancy comes from, right, it’s because, you know, manifests in the information that we disseminate to our clinicians to healthcare professionals, and and, you know, to patients as well, they need to be absolutely credible, and up to date information, right. And sometimes when you use tools, such as chat JpT, you may not always have the credible and the right information. So there is a very big risk in not using it. So it’s just completely understandable. But there are many other things. But if you can appreciate the technology, right, it’s the artificial intelligence technology that can really make things easier for you. And really, it’s about you know, when you talk about AI and digital, it really, you can’t fit AI and digital in one function. It really sits pretty much in every function. It sits in Medical Affairs, it sits in marketing and commercial. In fact, it sits about all these functions. And really, that’s where the term catalyst comes because it is one of those things that can really bring all these functions together, and helping cross functional cross collaboration. So I guess the future is really Bright. But you know, the, you know, to make it bright people need to understand what the power is and and use it with caution as well.
Garth Sundem 05:14
Yeah, interesting. So I hear that as part of a hesitancy. Here’s another way to ask this does omni channel require Omni departments? Meaning, you know, can you implement omni channel just within medical? Or? Or does it need to be implemented across the organization? And then is that a catalyst for cross functional collaboration?
Amit Lalwani 05:37
Yeah, look, it’s a really great question. So, look, it really depends on, you know, the mindset of, you know, the leader mindset and organization mindset as well. Because at the end of the day, in applying omni channel strategies, digital strategies, you can you can, you can deal with to a certain extent, if you don’t have a dedicated digital team, Omni channel team, because a lot of information is available pretty much everywhere. You know, and, and it’s, it’s one of those hot topics that people love to talk about. And I’m hoping, you know, when people come for the map on maps Summit, they will talk a lot about that. And that’s what we really want people to really engage in these kinds of topics. So, you know, going back to, you know, can organization still do it without a team? I would say yes. Because it really depends. What, you know, are you as a person? And what mindset if you have a transformative mindset or digital mindset, you can do really anything?
Garth Sundem 06:42
Is, is there risk in? Is there a risk to Medical Affairs, in implementing digital tools that are shared with other functions? And what I’m imagining is that, do we end up as the little sibling in some cases in that way? You know, is our silo protective in some way?
Amit Lalwani 07:10
I think, look, it’s it’s a, it’s a good question. So in terms of if there is a risk, look, I would say in our in, in full transparency, there’s risk in in everything, really, with with, with every function, I would say, right, it’s not just Medical Affairs, being a use of digital technologies, such as AI, can can be risky to a certain extent. And that’s really because of the inflammation that can come out of it. Right, so but if you can use artificial intelligence to perhaps enhance your current strategy or current process of data dissemination, so you kind of you know, you in a way you are eliminating or minimizing that risk, because it’s not completely dependent on a machine or completely on AI to give that data or that information out to your clinicians and to patients, but it’s really there is always a human there, to go through everything that’s coming out of that and to really cross check everything before it really goes out to the wider world.
Garth Sundem 08:25
Okay, yeah. So we have we have the, we have the promise of digital tools, as a catalyst of cross functional collaboration, we have hesitancy coming from, you know, one direction, the direction of accuracy. Another direction that sometimes it’s hard to step outside of the silo. And I’m wondering if there is also hesitancy in adopting promising digital tools, just from the change management have it? Is it is it hard to do things? You know, you mentioned face to face? And on paper? Is it hard to shift habits from face to face? And on paper to digital tools?
Amit Lalwani 09:10
Yeah, look, you in your opening statement, you said? Is it hard to get out of your of your silos? I think, you know, if, if, if I if I could reframe that sentence, I would probably say is it hard to get out of your comfort zone? Because, you know, working in silos, it’s kind of become one of those comfort zones for a lot of folks within Medical Affairs. And, and that’s, that’s, I guess, understandable, because that’s what’s been happening from decades, I believe. Obviously, I’ve been in industry for a very short amount of time and I you know, being being being an industry for such short amount of time, I can already see you know, that there are, you know, these silo operations happening. So I think, really, you know, To overcome that, we need to have a change in the mindset, I’m going back to my first point, it really comes down from what the mindset is, it’s about being a bit open minded. It’s because you know that, you know, where Medical Affairs really is headed now is in the next few years, it’s going to change the, you know, pretty much the paradigm of Medical Affairs how Medical Affairs operate. And so we really got to keep up with that race and keep up with the pace and really upskill ourselves in these digital land AI tools. And, really, from from a change management and operations point of view. You know, there are many resources and many tools available. And I’m hoping, you know, when, when folks from different farm organizations come to our map or map Summit, they can perhaps hear what’s been happening in the digital world in the context of Medical Affairs, and and really what I, what I want people to really have those conversations, you know, come and talk to us, you know, there are so many different things we could have, you know, over a cup of coffee, or a beer or whatever, you know, we can always have great conversations, because it is such a big topic. And you can’t do it alone, you know, we need a lot of we need a collaborative effort over here, to really uplift ourselves in this digital world, and make and show that great value that we as Medical Affairs people can bring out to the to the healthcare community. Well, I
Garth Sundem 11:39
mean, this is why we need people like you we’ve for decades and decades, we’ve had the clinical and scientific expertise. And now we’re being infused with digital innovators. And, you know, I think sometimes it’s the perspective from beyond the function that is going to drive some of this change and drive some of this innovation. Well, it’s nice, we’ve been chatting about collaboration and working across silos. And it does strike me that these meetings are a great opportunity for that. So tell us about the plenary, I know, you mentioned that you’ve got interesting people with different perspectives. And I would love to hear just a little bit about what folks can expect before we before we sign off here today.
Amit Lalwani 12:21
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I’d love to tell you a bit about our plenary, so the title of the Plenary is expanding the horizons with digital innovations in Medical Affairs. So really, this fits quite well, with our summit theme, which is really expanding the horizons and Medical Affairs. And really, you know, one way to expand your horizons is really by these digital innovations that, you know, we see in, you know, we’ve been seeing in the past couple of months, really. And, and and, you know, to your point, Gatch. You mentioned about digital innovators, and I think we need a lot of data as well, because this is really, you know, those innovators that can drive this digital sort of thinking, you know, across across folks within Medical Affairs, to give you an idea who will be participating in the plenary, so we’ve got we’ve got a wide, diverse, quite a diverse panel. So we’ve got an individual from the marketing function, we’ve got someone from the commercial team, and we’ve got someone from the learning and development department and we’ve also got one panelist from the IT IT department. And and really the reason and, and, and the rationale of you know, having such a diverse panel, is to really get these insights about what’s been happening in the digital realm in your worlds, you know, in your functions. Okay. And this is really, I’m hoping to incept some thoughts within our Medical Affairs community. Like hey, guys, you know, there was a lot of digital innovation, a lot of digital, great things happening in the marketing in the commercial. Can we perhaps do the same in Medical Affairs? So that’s the that’s the aim of the plenary. And I Yeah,
Garth Sundem 14:28
well, I wish I could be there. I anyone who’s in the neighborhood should go that really is a cross functional collaborating, Silo breaking approach to that digital panel. All right, so let’s leave it there for today. Amit thanks for joining us. We hope to see all of you at the map maps Medical Affairs summit in Sydney, November 8 through 10 maps members don’t forget to subscribe, and we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series, Elevate