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How to Effectively Engage Stakeholders to Get Deeper, More Actionable Insights
Conventional engagement approaches are falling short for Medical Affairs teams who need to make increasingly fast and agile decisions. In the second episode of this tech-focused podcast series, you’ll learn how emerging tools can enable better collaboration and engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. You’ll see examples of how the industry is increasingly turning to a hybrid communications approach – incorporating a combination of over-time and real-time engagement to get more precise dialog, bring diversity to discussions and make better, faster decisions.
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 of MAPS. And today we’re speaking about engaging stakeholders to generate insights with Lance Hill CEO Within3, and Natalie DiMambro, Vice President of Learning and Development at Within3. This episode is made possible by Within3, whose insights management platform helps life science companies identify the right people, actively engage them, and get answers that inform strategic decisions. So, let’s last time we talked about how to find the right experts. And now we’re taking the next step and looking at how to engage these experts, and specifically how to engage experts in a way that creates insights. So, it used to be that we would engage experts by walking into their offices, can you give us the lay of the land on how this has changed?
Lance Hill 01:07
Sure, yeah. Usually, the headset has always been we are engaging people by either walking in their offices, or for engaging them in groups, we’re flying them all to a hotel in Dallas. And we’re going to spend a day or two with an agenda and a whole cohort of people and kind of have a variety of things we’re going to talk about. And what both of those techniques have in common is, they’re really logistically challenging for the audience, they have to be available, kind of when you can be available for them, it becomes increasingly complex, if it’s a group, they all have to be kind of paying attention and ready to engage with you and using all of their brains being actively invested and talking with you versus kind of multitasking or part time. And so, that logistic challenge, and how much planning and how precious those few moments during the year you get that chance to be in their office are really causes the industry to think about this as I have these three or four episodes, to really engage with someone. And that’s quite different than where technology is now, where you have the ability to engage people, anytime and all the time and a variety of different methods. And that’s what we you know, what I find very fascinating, where our industry is started to think about that, and bring that into their headset.
Garth Sundem 02:29
Well, okay, so Natalie, I think that the frequency of engagement that is facilitated by having an easier mechanic, you know, you’re not flying everybody to Dallas, seems one major benefit of whatever you want to call hybrid or virtual interactions. Are there other benefits? You know, I’ve heard about diversity and inclusivity of discussions, Are there benefits to the kinds of insights that you get from a more technologically aided interaction?
Natalie DiMambro 03:05
Yeah, I mean, what we have, you know, what we see in the industry is that previously, everything was kind of around a one time event, you’re fitting 12 people around that table that Lance mentioned, and, you know, was sometimes the same 12 people or similar backgrounds or similar status within the industry. And now, you know, you see different therapeutic areas, you see different practice types, you see different regions, you see underserved populations. So, you know, diversity is, is one thing, but also inclusivity, I think before it was an exclusive, you know, an exclusive event that was happening, and we really try to weed out, you know, as many people as possible, because we couldn’t afford to have so, many people around the table. And now it’s just a different, it’s a different headset, a different lens, it’s a rethink about more voices, increasing your sample size of the insights that you’re getting, so that it is a broader sense, and maybe a more, you know, accurate picture of what reality is,
Garth Sundem 04:01
Lance, let’s dig in on that. So, are diversity and inclusivity. If I can say it, inclusivity, are they? Are they different things? Are we talking about two distinct things here?
Lance Hill 04:12
I think so, at least in the way I think about them. Maybe these aren’t the standard industry definitions, but I think of inclusivity really along the lines of what Natalie was just talking about, which is, am I getting a relative sample of my entire population that I care about involved with me engage with me? Or am I only getting for example, the top five KOL or the top 10 KOL is helping me for my strategy. Am I bringing patients in as I’m designing clinical studies? Am I bringing payers in a kind and health economics people in as early as possible? Am I talking not just to the KOL is my talking to, you know, field practitioners, am I talking to nurse practitioners, am I talking you know, am I talking to the physician assistant around reimbursement am I am I looking at all of that that cohort and am I able to bring them in so, I Whew, that is inclusivity. And even now it’s in terms of underserved populations, am I really understanding the regional differences or the socio economic differences that exist for me in my disease area, and bring that all in and inclusive fashion, diversity of voices is is a whole different thing. You know, so it happens a lot in a kind of blind bi directional setting. So, like, right now I’m talking, Natalie isn’t getting too you’re not getting too because I just talk on and on and on. So, this was the case, yeah, so this was the case, you’re not really getting as diverse an audience as diverse have a voice, even with the people you’re bringing to the table as you can, because only one person can kind of be dominating. And let’s face it, usually, and we’re talking in medical, and especially more talking with kind of high powered physicians, a lot of them have very dominating personalities, and they can really drown out the rest of the room purposefully or not. And so, I think different technologies offer the ability to have everybody’s voice, have an equal footing, remove some of those social and kind of technological competition for airtime, pull those out of the situation, and so that you’re getting a broader spectrum of insights coming in, not just confirmation bias from the same people you’ve been talking to probably for the last seven years, or whatever the case might be.
Garth Sundem 06:23
Okay, so Natalie, is there still a role for real time engagement? Or are we moving to a world where we’re just going to over time, I don’t mean over time, but over time engagement?
Natalie DiMambro 06:38
Yeah, I mean, but I think the real time opportunities are just really more critically thought about. So, if you’re going to take the time and gather people in a room or around a table, or even in a webcast, as we’re doing now, you want to make sure that time is engaging, it’s interactive, it’s two way give enough time to everybody to talk. And you’re coming to some consensus, there’s a reason that it has to be live in real time. So, you know, companies now are using the asynchronous or the overtime type of engagement, to gather insights, data, you know, when you’re talking about really detailed or nuanced protocols, development, you know, getting the end the endpoints, the just the different criteria kind of hammered out ahead of time, so that the lifetime is used for you know, what didn’t we cover there? You know, where didn’t we come to agreement, and then it becomes a very useful and productive discussion. If you’re using the lifetime in a, you know, for didactic presentation where you don’t want anybody to respond back, it’s really not a good use of that time. And it’s so hard to schedule. That’s what we’re seeing are companies are rethinking the way that they use the live part of their toolset overall, so get the data ahead of time, follow up with data afterwards, put the questions online afterwards, get more insight afterwards. But the lifetime should really be two way discussion, and everybody should have a chance to talk. So, you kind of have to even work out the calculation of that how many people are on? How much do you want them to contribute? And what’s the expectation there?
Garth Sundem 08:05
That’s really interesting. So, it used to be when we only had the option for real time engagement, that we had to do all of these activities in real time. And now it’s it sounds like you’re saying we can ensure that our optimizing the, you know, we’re doing the best things asynchronous. And we’re using lifetime for very different things. Lance, what do you think about that? What is the best use of asynchronous? And what is the best use of real time engagement?
Lance Hill 08:41
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think about it a couple of ways. So, generally speaking, and kind of building are you you’re both just discussing, your live engagement is your most expensive engagement? Yep. And so, you want to get the best return on that engagement. So, if you ask us, I just came out of a meeting. And on a scale of one to 1010 being I got like every second of that meeting was crucially valuable to me. And one being, I fell asleep for 55 minutes of the meeting, where are you? And what you want is nine or 10 out of 10 on every one of those. And when you actually look at how a live meeting is structured, a good percentage of it is, here’s the intro, here’s the Hi, how are you is here’s the flipping through the agenda. here’s the here’s other things that aren’t that nine or 10 out of 10. And so, by mixing asynchronous or varying engagement types together, the one way to look at it is when you can maximize your ROI on the Live Meeting, because you’re not wasting time with things that could be done in less expensive venue. That’s one way to look at it. The other way to look at it is these are different tools. So, there are things that you’re going to do if I want to get into a really in depth discussion with a group of people around, evaluate this clinical protocol, and give me really an depth discussion kind of page by page and point to things that don’t make sense. Putting that up on a screen with 12 people and saying everyone just kind of start throwing ideas out is not a useful thing to do in that sort of venue. Because if the information is very deep, it’s very scientific, it’s very detailed, people need time to think and consider and react, as opposed to, if I’m in a scenario where I’m entering a therapeutic area, and I’m really trying to get to know some of the key opinion leaders in that therapeutic area. And I’m really showing them some surface level things, I just kind of want their reaction to it. You know, that’s great in a in a kind of a real time setting. And if you can have it live, that’s where you’d prefer to have it. If you can’t do that, you’ll do it on a zoom or something. But so, so both the the outputs you can get from different venues differ. But also, the way you can maximize the ROI of your most expensive venues by mixing in the lower cost digital options, is also a critical way to think about it.
Garth Sundem 11:05
Yeah, I see you nodding, go ahead, Natalie.
Natalie DiMambro 11:07
add one more thing. It’s something that I think, you know, clients and companies didn’t think about until now, but the global aspect and the language barriers that happen in life, so companies use the asynchronous platform, you know, if you have a mix of people from different backgrounds, origins, different languages, they’re able to actually speak to each other. Whereas in a live setting, there is a lot of bias there too, that you know, the host language whoever’s hosting that event, that’s another good reason to go async.
Garth Sundem 11:37
Or just different time zones, for gosh sake. So, you don’t have your, your important external stakeholders up at one in the one in the morning. Well, you know, it’s interesting, it almost is a rethink on the way we run meetings. It’s, it sounds like, it sounds to me, like there’s a lot of prep, you know, asking how can I best get the information that I need? Or, you know, how can I get the insights, the strategic insights that I need, in the most efficient way, and some of those may come from asynchronous? And then you’re really optimizing the use of that precious, real time? Use? Well, so when we talk about engagements, I think everyone looks outside the organization. Right? Everyone looks externally they say, how can we find the key opinion leaders? Or how can we last we talked about influencing networks? What do you see in engaging internal stakeholders? Is this staying real time? Are we having the same meetings we’re already having? Or is internal engagement changing as well?
Natalie DiMambro 12:52
Well, as a trainer, I’m a little bit biased, because most of the training, you know, that we do is async. And we try to use those non real time, you know, venues when we can, but everybody, you know, everyone was connecting asynchronously prior, but it was just using email, or maybe a messaging channel and that that was asynchronous on their own time. But there was no real organization to it, it just kind of went like texting when you think to do it, you messaged somebody, or you email somebody. So, it isn’t really an organized group activity that’s moving along. So, if you have an instance, where you want an internal team to move along the same timeline, having one off one on one, asynchronous conversations may not be the best way to do it. So, how can we gather them, give them deadlines and milestones together. And typically, an asynchronous platform would be a way to do it. So, training is the perfect place to start that internally, because usually training, we’re all trying to move towards the same deadline or milestone with learning something internally. But there’s lots of other uses, you know, for these types of technologies, internally, just breaking down some of the silos that we have naturally by not being able to include everybody virtually, you know, think about who, who would be interested in knowing what we’re talking about figuring out ways to get video out, you know, on demand, you know, that way, so there’s all sorts of ways to think about it. And previously, it was just kind of emails and messages, but now it’s on demand portals and videos and asynchronous sessions that move along.
Garth Sundem 14:20
You didn’t want us to be able to bring everybody in. And now you can bring everybody in. Sorry, Lance. Go ahead.
Lance Hill 14:25
Okay. The other thing is technologically too. So, I think when people think, Oh, we’re going to do some of this inside the, our firewall with our employees, you know, the default is thinking like a paradigm like Microsoft Teams or something like that, where it’s kind of like, here’s kind of an office 365 sort of thing online that we can all just kind of come into. And it kind of is very much like what now he’s talking about. It’s almost like if you go into Windows environments that are saying we’re going to have a soccer match, but there’s no coach. Everyone has to keep time and know when the period ends on their own. No one has pre assigned any position because it just assumes everyone kind of in the same position, and just go and we’ll see how the soccer match goes, it really relies very heavily on the group to kind of understand structure monitor what’s happening. And so, that’s good for very kind of lightweight sort of spontaneous, you know, there’s no real work, there’s no agenda, there’s, there’s no outcome that has to happen. The tools now, add that layer on top, the coaching, the timekeeping the direction, the, you know, the rules, when there’s a foul in the game, know that the red flag, the systems have that now. And so, that makes the ability to get work done internally, at a different level than simply saying, let’s all log into teams, and I’ll put a document on the shared drive, and we can start working on it together.
Garth Sundem 15:49
And again, it’s like, what forum, what structure gives you what you need? Is, is the platform that you choose, and you know, again, real time or asynchronous, are all of these things driven by predicting, and choosing the types of information and insights that you want ahead of time? Do you need to know what you want? And then you go get it? Or do you set up forums, and let them give you things that you don’t know you already want? You have to know what insights you’re fishing for.
Lance Hill 16:31
I think you’d have to know the type of insights you’re fishing for, but not what the insights are. If you know you’re looking for feedback on data that you’ve just released or published, you kind of you know that you’re looking to create a patient case. Together, you know, that you’re working on, you know, reviewing speaker materials for upcoming series. If you know the type of thing you’re looking for, you may not know what the answers are, is this just a great patient case document or a terrible one? But if you know, that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then you can say, okay, which venues are combinations of the venues, you don’t just pick one, you can have a program that uses more than one at a time, which venues give you the best result. And an organization that kind of has all those tools in your toolkit is much better position to be much more efficient, effective and interact with their clients better. So, that’s kind of how you think about it within any particular venues, you can get an insight that you weren’t expecting at all. Yeah, like, Oh, my goodness, this blew me away. I didn’t even think about that. But each venue is each different sort of venue leans towards a different type of way of people interacting with you.
Garth Sundem 17:41
And Natalie, do people in Medical Affairs teams, know what venues get you what kind of insights? Or is this a real learning that still has to happen in Medical Affairs?
Natalie DiMambro 17:55
It seems that it’s happening, we’re in the middle of it. I think people are starting to rethink it. I think we just you know, I came from a meeting planning background with advisory board and speaker trainings. And I always thought in time blocks, you know, we had eight hours and we have three days, what can we fit into that time. So, it took me a while to just rethink that and to be goal oriented. So, now we look at an overall plan for the year we look at the next, you know, six months strategy and we say, what are the goals here? We’re looking to accomplish? Who do we need to hear from, you know, why? Why do we need to show this video? What are we looking to get back? And then you’re kind of mix and matching those tools? I think it just for some of us who’ve been in the industry a little while it is doing things differently. So, you know, if you haven’t done it that way before, it does take a little bit more time, but it’s definitely in process. I mean, it it had to happen over the past year because the goals were the same and the strat you know, the Strategic Initiatives for the teams were the same but the venues needed to change. So, now it is happening. We are in the midst of it.
Garth Sundem 18:55
So, the venues change, we can get what we need in more efficient ways, with some thought and some help, some planning. So, let’s leave it there for today. Thanks, Lance, and Natalie. To learn more about how your organization can partner with Within3, visit Within3.com. MAPS members don’t forget to subscribe. And we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series: “Elevate”.
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© 2023 Medical Affairs Professional Society (MAPS). All Rights Reserved Worldwide.