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Data-Empowered Conference Prep and Planning for MA
Conference prep requires more than placing publications, securing booth space and scheduling as many KOL meetings as possible. Here we speak with Chris Medieros, Director of Strategic Insights, H1, about how to maximize your organization’s presence and impact at congresses, including how to plan strategically across the workflow of KOL interactions.
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 about data empowered conference prep, with Chris Medieros, Director of Strategic Insights at H1. This episode is sponsored by H1. So Chris, it’s great to talk to you again. And conference prep data empowered conference prep, don’t you just get as many presentations as you can, and by booth space and show up? What are we talking about here?
Chris Medieros 00:35
That’s a great, great question. And, you know, I wish it were that easy. But for those of my comrades that are out there, who are busy at work in this busy conference season, getting ready for any number of different major globally and even domestic congresses, you know, that it’s, there’s a lot that goes into to making this happen, there are a lot of plates that are spinning in the air. And depending on the way your organization approaches, Congress engagement with medical experts, it can either be sort of a standalone every person for themselves, not what I recommend, type of approach, or it could be a centrally coordinated initiative with a lot of different stakeholder inputs to kind of bring it all forward. But there’s a lot goes into it. And I’ve done a lot of this myself. So I can I can really speak to what has worked well in my past and what you know what, what good looks like there, so I can’t wait to get into it. There’s a lot that a lot, then newly aggregated data can do to kind of really help this effort be more efficient, and more strategically aligned.
Garth Sundem 01:38
Okay, well, let me just follow up with something that we can check off our list and every person for themselves approach. I don’t even know what that would look like, we’re not talking about, like, MSLs roaming through the poster sessions, right? Or so what does, it’s funny, we’re gonna get to what good looks like what does what does bad look like? What do you mean by everyone for themselves? Approach?
Chris Medieros 01:57
Yeah, no, I think that I think I can’t, gosh, I hate to be negative. But what that looks like, I think is when there’s, there’s misalignment, right, um, in each person is sort of doing their own thing in a silo. And really great Congress planning and execution is is a coordinated effort that takes into consideration the different objectives of stakeholders within an organization to meet with medical experts, there are probably when you’re, the bigger the Kol, the more people want a piece of their time, right. And so you can imagine, say, for example, you’re heading out the door to ASCO in a few months. And you’ve got major global stakeholder on your docket to meet with, they’re probably more than one person from your organization that wants to meet with that expert. So a kind of decentralized approach that doesn’t take that into consideration, can really, it can have some negative impacts not only for, for the objectives that you want to hit, but also some of your your comrades in arm there from your organization that also may want to go ahead and connect with that expert. So a 360 view is vitally important. But also, importantly, think about it from the experts perspective, if you’re a major, major, you know, expert in a particular space, no doubt, if your organization is reaching out to them, many, many other organizations are as well and their time is limited at these congresses and and the busier the researcher, the more sessions they’re going to be leading, the more, you know, the more steering committees, they’re going to be a part of that kind of thing. Everybody wants a piece of their time. So when you know, companies have five and six and seven different stakeholders reaching out to the same Kol for a meeting, it makes the company look disorganized. So I much preferential if you will to a centralized coordination approach, which really involves having at least some person or team of people really sort of lead the effort for a company to make sure that they’re engaging with experts with a 360 view in mind. So maybe you have like an MSL point person, maybe you even have a dedicated stakeholder engagement person at your organization. If you do, it can really be a wonderful asset. And maybe you’ve got the same on the other side of the commercial side of the house. And those teams are talking to each other. They’re kind of aligning, they’re coordinating and working together to make sure that not only are the company’s business objectives met, but they’re really being good stewards of the relationship with the Kol. That is so important. And I will tell you, I have had so many times different experts tell me that they notice, right, they really notice when a company has got their act together, and that when they show up for a meeting, there is a point there is a purpose. You know, remember we talked about the fact that, you know, these experts are really, really busy, right? And so they notice when a company has got its act together, they apologize. There are objectives. We don’t sit at the table and kind of went put our fingers at each other and So, you know, do you have this meeting? Or do I? What are we talking about? I mean, if everybody walks into that engagement, knowing what it is they’re planning on talking about maybe the project they’re planning on working on next, or the topic of discussion. And even better, if somebody has taken the time to ask that expert, what their objectives are, oh, gosh, you end up having a really productive meeting that does not feel transactional, it does not feel like a one off. And most importantly, it doesn’t feel like a waste of time for your organization, or for that customer, and they’re probably gonna want to work with you again.
Garth Sundem 05:34
Okay, so we’re already moving into what good looks like good, which is good. And it sounds like identifying who is point four, engaging, which stakeholders, and putting a purpose on those engagements would be two important pieces of planning for conference success. And it wasn’t other big buckets of planning Would you talk about in the lead up to a conference?
Chris Medieros 06:01
That’s a really great point. So like, if I have to think about the way to think about this, and I did before getting together today, there are three areas that I think are most vital. And I’ll get into planning here in a second planning is one of the one of the alignment of strategic objectives, we can talk about that more planning for certain, and then taking action. So let’s dig into the planning piece. Because in we’re talking today about how to use data to help us plan. And so you know, after we’ve aligned to strategic objectives, we know what our marching orders are for the year, we know what our companies need is for that particular Congress, oftentimes, every company, every pharmaceutical company out there has a theme, you know, sort of that they are looking to address, right. Or maybe they’re maybe they’re talking very specifically about a therapeutic area, or about emerging science that is really relevant to their pipeline or their development objectives. So that theme for that meeting is going to be aligned around making sure we have conversations that support that. So we’ve got alignment there, we know where what we’re wanting to meet with people about, then it comes to the place where we start that planning, right. And, you know, once you’ve identified the archetypes of the profiles of the types of HCPs that you want to connect with, it’s when you start assembling a list of those people who match that criteria, right. And I kind of call it a nominations list. So having some sort of a comet, this usually evolves into a congress tracker, and I always recommend having some kind of really tightly organized Congress tracker. So you can keep track of all those spinning plates. But if you’re starting from scratch, for example, so say, you need to find people to meet with because you are responsible for leading this charge would be great phase three trials, they have expertise in a particular disease area, they have a certain percentage of patients with a particular diversity trait. And these HCPs don’t currently have a trial that is open in the area that your company is looking to pursue, which is really important that you want people to have the patience that they can potentially pull in consulting a tool, like the H1 database can be a real game changer. But whatever tool that you use to kind of go ahead and do that searching to find people to nominate the Congress is a fabulous place when everybody is all in one place to start connecting with some of those people and make introductions, if they haven’t already had them to your medical team, to your CLIN Deb team. And you want to target those, those efforts appropriately, and you begin your outreach, and then you track your progress, like it’s your job. Right. So, you know, Congress planning, as we’ve mentioned, has a lot of different elements that are kind of all happening in tandem to pull them off successfully. So it’s really critical to keep organized from from who’s joining those meetings from your organization. To those objectives. We talked about where the meeting site is what the venue looks like. So the planning piece, I think you can’t spend enough time on this, I think that it’s really vital to to make sure you put your put that that legwork in.
Garth Sundem 09:08
it, it’s interesting, I just wanted to reconnect with finding the right people based on your purpose, you know, you bring up a phase three trial list. And I can imagine that, you know, the the why, of doing what you’re doing at the conference is is as you know, it then drives the what, right. So, so your strategic priorities, okay, we’re gonna we’re going to be going into this phase three, we need people to be running the phase three trials, that’s what we get from this conference. What are other things that you could get from a conference? I mean, what people who would drive public awareness, you know, people who would, what are some of the things that people should get from these conferences strategic priorities?
Chris Medieros 09:51
Yeah, no, that’s a really that’s a really good question. And I think that you know, your your engagements are probably going to be a mixture of of ongoing relationships, right, you’re gonna want to have some fun percentage of those Congress engagements dedicated to people that you have established relationships with that you may or may not be already working on a consultancy a trial and IIT, for example. So you’re gonna have people that you have to have ongoing business meetings with, and then you’ll have potentially meetings with people that get you’re not yet working with, but you really want to or you should be. So maybe it’s a clinical trial list or a pie potentially, that would be a really great potential fit for your organization. I think that when it comes to strategic objectives, you’re also you’re taking a look at the marching orders for your particular role. And you’re thinking about, okay, what is it I’m asked to do this year? If I’m an MSL? Am I being tasked in the next quarter or two quarters with engaging experts around a particular area of emerging science or a therapeutic area or a disease area? That’s important to my organization, because we know MSL is are very much involved in the ongoing work of scientific exchange, right? So there usually is their objectives that are related to those scientific exchange topics and in sourcing out potential convergence. Potential thought partners around those areas of interest your organization, they may or may not be new experts to your, your company, into your portfolio, or they may be people that that you’ve been working with all along, but this new area that you’re charged with discussing, it’s just a topic that you haven’t addressed with them before, right. So you’ll have some of your engagements that are dedicated to those ongoing relationships, you’ll have some that are dedicated to new areas. And then you may for example, if you’re an MSL and you have been asked to put together meetings, it’s a common request, right? MSLs are getting ready to go to a meeting and they get a call from their leader that says, hey, you know, Dr. So and So chief medical officer is planning on coming to this Congress, everybody starts to scramble and say, Oh, my gosh, get as many get as many meetings as you can. I always want to caution people to take a moment. Right? Yeah, it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. And as scary as it can be, I want to reassure everybody, that that senior executives from the medical team, they put their shoes on one foot at a time, just like the rest of us. And they too will be so appreciative of somebody, whether it’s each individual MSL or one point person, putting time on calendar with them to line up with them, hey, you’re coming to this Congress? What is it you really like to talk to our experts about isn’t about our ongoing trials? Do you want to talk to them about a particular educational initiative? Is it about a consultancy, or a particular strategy discussion you want to have? Tell me a little bit about what you’d like to see in these meetings? What are your specific topics of discussion, so that I can not just go scattershot and get you as many meetings as possible, I can get to meetings that are going to be really, really beneficial to help us meet our business objectives and have the kind of conversations you want. That conversation is so vitally important. So it’s a key part of planning. If there are going to be any senior executives coming to those meetings, you want to find out what their expectations are. And then you can really target your initiatives, you can use your data tools like H1, to go ahead and find the right thought partners for those conversations. And it’s a really, it’s a really powerful tool to use. But then you end up sort of building towards that best in class, what good looks like Congress.
Garth Sundem 13:27
You had three major areas here, we had alignment to strategic objectives, we had to help plan and then we are taking action. We’re into taking action a little bit. But okay, let’s let’s imagine, we know our why we know our purpose. We use tools to help us plan these engagements with with the right people. So what do we do now that we’re taking action at the conference?
Chris Medieros 13:51
That sounds great. So you got ahead, you’ve got your not only you not only got all that that prospective laid out, you know what you’re looking for, but you’ve actually lined up a series of meetings, you’ve got yourself a fantastic book of means a real program, you’ve put together a beautiful profile on each of those experts that you’re sitting down with so that everybody from your organization knows what they’re about, knows what the nature of their body of work is all about. They understand how those experts are working with your organization. Executives love to not be blindsided. They want to know that stuff. So you’re ready, right? You’ve got 25 meetings ready for an upcoming Congress, and you’ve got what I do with that.
Garth Sundem 14:32
I’m so glad that I do. I didn’t even know that I’ve done that. Worried about but I guess we’re ahead of the game.
Chris Medieros 14:39
Yeah, you’re ahead and you’re ready to go. So you go into those engagements with a plan to take action, right? Because you have objectives, right? You’re going to ask some really specific strategic questions. You’re gonna have conversations around the projects you’re thinking about with these experts, right? And you’ve also got their talking points. You’ve got their objectives. You’re gonna dress some of the things that they want to talk about. So you’re you’re ruthlessly prepared for these Congress engagements and you go in there with the expectation that there are going to be action items right? Before you step foot into the airport, you jump on the plane and you go to the Congress, what I really want people to do is right then and there, stop a marathon there maybe the night before, but you stop and you, you send a calendar invite for post Congress to every stakeholder that is showing up at your meetings right? Yes, put it on a calendar. And you get that ready, we’re gonna have a post Congress to talk about the action items and next steps for all of our meetings, maybe it’s a week or two out, give yourself time to aggregate your notes afterwards, on the calendar before everyone’s schedule fills up, and make it a priority, right. So you’re going there with the plan to take action items, and then you whatever, whatever form works for you, whatever, whatever sort of capture tool works for you, you know, maybe you’ve got a CRM that you capture notes, and maybe you’ve got a spreadsheet, whatever it is, but you’ve got the objectives, you’ve got the questions that arise in that meeting, and you got action items, right. And if there’s any particular people that right off the bat, are people who that action items should be delegated to make a note of it, right, because you’re gonna have a lot of information that you take in, and that you’re responsible for disseminating back out afterwards, you want to take as many detailed notes as you can, that’ll help you remember what it is that came out of this, right. If there’s any time specific, or project specific action items, highlight those, boldface them, so that there are any expectations that your experts have for your organization to follow up with a certain amount of time or on a specific topic, it does not get lost, because again, your experts will know they will, they will automatically recognize that this is a company that is buttoned up when a week, two weeks, a couple of days after that conference, they either get a a note from your organization or a phone call or a visit from their MSL, following up on that action item, they will be so appreciative. And the reason they’ll be appreciative is because so few organizations do this really well. So you captured those notes, you’ve had your fabulous meetings, you’ve walked away with happy K wells that feel like you value their time, right. And your executives are fired up because they had really fruitful discussions, they know where they’re going. And they have a plan sometimes to follow up with an expert they’ve never had a report with. So everyone’s happy. Now the all important conversation happens after the meeting where everyone from your organization gets together. And you ask, Hey, we’re all in this meeting together. Garth, what did you hear? This is what I heard, what did you hear? And you end up with is a really important exercise, because a lot of people will, you know, kind of chime in and they’ll they’ll fill in blanks that you know, you perhaps missed, right? Or they had they heard it in a slightly different way. So there’s another place to kind of take notes. There, somebody’s got to be delegated to, to go ahead and be the scribe for that conversation. But take it down, you know, share this socialize this list of notes with your organization’s that everyone’s looking at the same sheet of music, and then you capture the insights. Right? And then you decide right then in there, okay, Dr. Jones, wants us to follow up on this particular protocol, or they’re Dr. Smith needs us to provide a statistician for the IT, who’s going to take it, you assign it right in that meeting, right. And then you go ahead and whoever’s job it is to kind of be that point person is really the person responsible for making sure that those action items get an assignment. And here’s why it’s important. It takes it takes those engagements that you’ve had at a congress from a transactional moment in time. Right? Hi, goodbye cup of coffee. Yep. A real plan. And it’s the it’s the kind of like, finite little tiny roots of eventual relationships that get built in these actions. So taking action and really, really being accountable to what was discussed in in an honoring the objectives of that meeting, is is really the difference from going from a cup of coffee to it being a relationship that each party values and that are mutually beneficial to each other.
Garth Sundem 19:09
You know, one thing that strikes me in there is the desire to create post conference touch points. I know, I close a lot of meetings, and it’s probably a bad habit with something like, oh, you know, let me know if you need anything, and then you kind of never hear again, right? So it sounds like you are suggesting people at conferences to not not not force a follow up, but to suggest things that they could follow up with, Hey, do you need a statistician for that? You know, Do do you want us to follow up with the with the with the protocol as a way to create the next interaction after the conference as well.
Chris Medieros 19:47
100% And honestly, if you’re meeting for real reasons, right, if you’re having a discussion that is based in real objectives, those Kol are going to be expecting some kind of a follow up. I’ll tell you a good story. It was that asked me five, six years ago, I was planning, I was planning the meetings for an ASCO only had something like 6065 meetings with experts from around the globe, you know, meeting with our team and I was point on this right. And afterwards, I had to follow up with a with a Kol, who was known for being a little bit Prickly, if you will, right, this person could be a little bit touchy, right. And I followed up with him on something separate. We followed up with him after the Congress. But I had to ask him a question a couple months after the fact, because he was being asked to get involved in a project that I just didn’t think was something that he was interested in, based on what he articulated. Right. And he said to me, so you know, what really strikes me, he said, I’m not a mercenary. He said, I don’t meet with people and expect to get paid for that time at a congress. Right? He said, But he said, a lot of a lot of companies treat those Congress meetings, like their free ad boards, they’re an hour long free ad board, and they want to pump me for information and direction and strategy tips on our pipeline. And he said, we shake hands, and we walk away. And he goes, I don’t hear about them, or I don’t hear from them for another year until they want to fill up their calendar again, at ASCO. And he said, it really ticks me off. He said, I have a short list of companies I won’t work with anymore, because they do that. And he said, every time I work with your company, he said, I walk away from one of those meetings, knowing what we’re going to talk about. If it’s not a project. It’s a it’s a study, or it’s a consultancy, or maybe it’s not a specific pay to have an agreement. But he said, you know, we’re going to start collaborating on an advocacy initiative together. Because every time I meet with your company, I walk away knowing what we’re going to talk about next. And he goes, unbelievable, you guys actually call me and you do it. Right. So he said, I really noticed that he was I just don’t want to work with those companies that just want to kind of like, just squeeze me for information. He said, I want to work with companies that want to do good for patients. And he said they want to collaborate with me in that pursuit. Full stop, it was pretty powerful. I mean, he was pretty blunt about it.
Garth Sundem 22:08
So it’s interesting, we spent the first part of this conversation about planning to get things from KOLs, you know, that align with your strategic priorities. And it sounds like in addition to that, we should be planning for what we can give to Kols well.
Chris Medieros 22:30
100% 100% mean, it should be a mutually beneficial engagement. I mean, they are so busy, especially at these big congresses, you know, they’re and so many of these, these clinicians are really tethered to the all important notion and good pharmaceutical companies are to of doing good for patients, right? They want to be working on projects, they’re going to help move the business of science forward, right. So in the service of patients that are in need. And and, yes, we have certainly business objectives that should always be tethered to the patient. But there’s a wells have business objectives to that, that we need to they need, they need to meet with us to help address those, you know, they have things that they like to work on, and they have things they don’t want to work on. And each individual Kol is very different, you’ll have some that would be more than happy to fly to Germany on a random Tuesday for for an ad board, right. And you have others that don’t want to go to those things unless they’re adjacent to another Congress really finding out what your experts want to do, what their preferences are is also a key piece of this. Right. And so when you are going ahead and you’re you’re sort of socializing, potential thought partners to meet with that a congress knowing who your Kol is, I think we talked about that last time we were we were together, it’s kind of know that Kol will help also to align thought partnership to your organization, because you know that that this particular area or this particular project is something this Kol is not only going to be really well versed in, not we’re going to be fantastic expert to add to the texture and a context of a conversation, but it’s also the kind of work they want to do, right. That’s where that mutual beneficial relationship comes into play and starts to really bring itself out in sharper relief.
Garth Sundem 24:17
And it takes data to know that so to know that exactly to know that. Let’s leave it there for today Chris, it is always a pleasure to chat with you. To learn more about how your organization can partner with H1, visit H1.co. MAPS members don’t forget to subscribe, and we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series: “Elevate”.
602 Park Point Drive, Suite 225, Golden, CO 80401 – +1 303.495.2073
© 2023 Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS). All Rights Reserved Worldwide.