Innovative Technologies for Smarter Pharma-Healthcare Interactions
Speaker: Tim Mikhelashvili, PharmD
MAPS speaks with Tim Mikhelashvili, CEO and Co-Founder of Amedea Pharma, and the winners of his Medical Affairs Olympics Competition, the CEOs of Discreedly and Inphronesis.
This podcast is sponsored by Amedea Pharma.
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 have a special event. Speaking with Tim Mikhelashvili, CEO and Co-Founder of Amedea Pharma, and the winners of his Medical Affairs Olympics Competition. So, Tim, before we introduce the winners and talk about HCP engagements, tell us a little bit more about these Medical Affairs and Olympics. What was it?
Tim Mikhelashvili 00:34
Sure, Garth. Well, just a few months ago, Mr. Farmer hosted the first ever innovation Olympics in our pharma industry. And we came together and we responded to the challenge to dare to share ideas across our functions and across our companies. And we changed conventional norms of how we communicated with each other, how we provided feedback, how we debated, we came up with new formats of evaluation of feedback through live polling and real time feedback in Medical Affairs. And finally, we also created a workshop in the form of a learning and development community in this Olympic spirit. So those competitors who were able to advance to the semifinals and finals, they were able to share their ideas multiple times, emphasize various different features of those ideas with a global audience, which everyone became familiar with over time in the process. They also built upon their ideas and enhance them as well. And so it was a truly a shared experience that I look back at with a lot of pride. And I think we made a lot of important steps in Medical Affairs. Good, was a great great to look back at that event.
Garth Sundem 01:57
And to look forward I can’t wait till next year’s Olympics innovation Olympics. I was calling it the Medical Affairs Olympics but Innovation Olympics, so…
Tim Mikhelashvili 02:04
Yes, Medical Affairs Innovation Olympics to be exact.
Garth Sundem 02:07
So you had submissions and now we have winners, the gold and silver top idea of the year winners. We have Vinay Tharayil, Co-Founder and CEO of Discreedly and Ben Weintraub, Co-Founder and CSO of Inphronesis. So before we get to our discussion of HCP engagements, I would love to hear about the winning ideas. So Vinay Oh, first, by the way, your tagline, discreetly farm to tablet is genius. us tell us what is Discreedly?
Vinay Tharayil 02:46
Sure, thanks. Thanks so much guys, for having me on the platform and on the podcast, discreetly is essentially a data driven engagement platform that we’re building to help pharma companies drive on demand and omni channel engagement with physicians and between Medical Affairs and physicians and healthcare providers. Essentially, that’s what our platform is, it’s a centralizing platform where pharma companies can be on and physicians and healthcare providers can be on in once in one space, engage with each other receive the information that that a provider would need. Engage with the folks within Medical Affairs based on their based on their needs, when they need it the most. And drive a prescription for that physician if it’s if it’s in the best interest for that patient. It really helps elevate the science. And the data behind the product is what disability is aim is for are for writers and for companies who are on the platform.
Garth Sundem 03:38
Sounds like you’re in the right place with our audience, Vinay. Ben, tell us about Inphronesis.
Ben Weintraub 03:45
Yeah, thanks for having us. And I’m glad to continue the Olympic victory tour with Vinay envision is a platform that Infineon has developed that helps to organize huge amounts of complex information and the ideas that Medical Affairs teams are inundated with facts about drugs, facts about medical devices, but not just clinical data, but also opinion from doctors, regulators, all sorts of stakeholders weighing in and how do you organize all this information into a framework that everybody can communicate and share information and ideas, and that you don’t lose those insights that you get along the way, and they they become part of a larger knowledge base. So we built the Envision system to facilitate sharing, organizing and communication of information.
Garth Sundem 04:41
Oh, that’s so interesting. So I hear a lot of similarities between these two platforms and then also very interesting differences that I would love to dig into. But let’s just open up the discussion about engagement. So we have so many new ways is to engage HCPs and kale ELLs. And now DOL is right. But engagement seems more difficult than ever, for some reason. So Ben, what do you see as the best practices? How can industry engage more effectively with health care providers?
Ben Weintraub 05:20
Yeah, well, I think from, from our experience, you can think about who you talk to where you talk to them. And what you do with the information, once you talk to them, perfect framework and who you talk to, I think that we all spend a lot of time with K wells. So key opinion leaders, or whatever they’re called the top of the pyramid that the thought leaders that that think about, you know, very far ahead about what’s going to be used tomorrow to treat lung cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. And I think it’s also important to talk to community doctors, and, and to people at all levels in between so that you can build that consensus of opinion, sometimes, we’re really good at focusing on those scales, but but need to take into account what everyone is thinking. The second thing I would sort of frame it as is where do you talk to them. And I’ll call out the special cases of medical conferences an excellent place to, to interact with medical professionals, often as peers and discuss the latest findings with them at the posters and go up to the scrum after the oral presentations and learn the latest. In addition to you know, whatever ever interactions you might have in a medical booth, that’s a that’s a very special case. And as you said, Garth, I think that it was harder to talk to physicians during the pandemic, and some of that is slow to come back. But medical conferences have come roaring back. Yeah. And then what to do with the information. I think that Vinay and I will dig deeper into. And I’ve already said that, organizing it as a bit of a challenge,
Garth Sundem 07:11
A bit of a challenge. Vinay, what do you think, who do you talk to? And where do you talk to them? And what do you do with the data?
Vinay Tharayil 07:17
No, that’s great, great question. Great. And kind of just, you know, taking a lead from what Ben said, especially around, you know, engaging with various types of health care providers. I think, you know, again, in my opinion, I think the biggest challenge is that most providers, especially at that community level, are really unaware of Medical Affairs and medical science liaisons in general. And so when you look at the data, it’s about only about 30% of physicians, you know, in that community space are actually engaging with an MSL, or even know what Medical Affairs is. And so this is the biggest hurdle that we need to overcome is creating awareness to these different roles within Medical Affairs space, especially the MSL is we’re really the front facing force of the Medical Affairs teams. We do know that this small subset of providers that do engage with MSL over 90% of them have said that they find their interactions with MSL is extremely valuable. But then again, this is still largely underutilized by the pharma industry. So I think this kind of creates an opportunity for us now to leverage this demand, and really, again, elevate that science behind the product and help empower these physicians with the data that you know, we have in the medical care space to help them utilize these new therapies that are coming to market or that are on the market to help them drive and improve their patient outcomes. But I think, you know, one of the problems that companies are facing is scaling these MSL services, even if they wanted to increase their MSL reach or increase your medical press reach, it’s a challenge. And so I think we need to rethink how we approach MSL and provider engagement. I think one of the ways by tackling this challenge is maybe by driving engagement from the individual provider workflow perspective, and really putting the physician in the captain’s chair to be able to deploy more of like a needs based engagement strategy. You know, I think we can do this by leveraging, again, technology and virtual engagement platforms to create both a push and a pull strategy for engagement versus what the standard processes are right now, which as we know, are pretty challenging and can be very difficult sometimes for MSOs and Medical Affairs. And so I think that’s one of the things that we can kind of do is use technology and virtual engagement to leverage and overcome some of these hurdles that we’re facing.
Garth Sundem 09:26
Okay, I heard so much there that I want to follow up on from both of you, but let’s start with the community providers. So they’re not in PubMed necessarily, you know, they’re not presenting at the conferences necessarily. So so how do we find these folks? Ben what do you think?
Ben Weintraub 09:45
Oh, I will, I will defer to Vinay and Tim, on that. Research, you know, there’s great ways to identify them.
Vinay Tharayil 09:57
I think in my opinion, one of the ways that we can you know, tackling engaging with community providers or the folks that are, you know, maybe not, you know, who are more of in the community space, I think the one way we can do that is by creating a central platform where, you know, these physicians can just log on and be available on this platform, whether it’s an app or an on online platform that they can use in their daily practice, you know, very similar to apps where physicians are using drug reference apps, for example. And that’s essentially kind of what Discreedly is going to be, it’s essentially a drug reference app where physicians can learn about new medicines that are coming to the product, or come into the market rather, and then again, receive the ability for engagement and Virtual Engagement on demand engagement with MSLs. So I think that’s one way we can identify these providers by creating a space where they can all kind of congregate in one area.
Ben Weintraub 10:46
I think one thing that’s that’s really nice about Vinay’s platform is that I think you find that all doctors don’t want to have more information pushed at them, they’re dealing with this information overload the same as all of us are. And but they would love to have a place where they can go and it’s organized, and they can get answers to their questions. And you know, some of that is an MSL, that you have a relationship with it that you can call and talk to her about it. And some of it is an information platform that’s a little bit better than what we have now where people feel comfortable and find answers quickly.
Tim Mikhelashvili 11:25
Yeah, and, you know, very commonly, you know, MSLs, in fields Medical Affairs, they’re given a list of top tier KOLs. And most of the time, they don’t always include the real world universe of healthcare professionals and physicians that I think requires a more timely strategy of communication that’s consistent with how physicians themselves communicate in the community outside of the committee and in academia, as well. And I think that’s what Vinay is, platform provides us. And just to add to another strategy that’s used in Medical Affairs of reaching out to the community physicians is working cross functionally, that we we cannot forget, right? Well, you may be given these top tier KOLs academic academia, but very often, for many disease states, it’s important to work together with commercial counterparts, you know, in regionally on a national level marketing. And so you have to be privy to that information, you have to be open to receive that information amidst the that, that pseudo firewall between medical and commercial that we try to cross cross cross borders with. And, of course, and so if, you know, when, when these questions arise in the field, I think commercial also needs to be aware of platforms that are currently in, you know, available, whether it’s Viva medical information, or new ones such as Vinay is creating. And the other point that I’ll make that I really appreciate it from both the ideas and the audience as well globally at the Olympics is that a lot, a significant value of medical interactions, Medical Affairs, interactions with healthcare presents comes during scientific meetings, those have been the highlights of my career. And so you have to really be organized, as Ben mentioned, in order to make that data that you discovered these meetings are most relevant, you know, to run to render your organization competitive, right. And so the speed is of the essence in really understanding what are some of the insights and how can I bring, you know, bring them into actionability? So I think Ben’s Ben’s scientific conference platform, I think is a is a great case study to demonstrate that.
Garth Sundem 13:57
So it seems like identifying community HCPs could kind of be considered a challenge have too little data. They’re not findable. They’re not they’re not creating publications, data or conference data in a way that makes them findable. And so one solution is Vinay’s platform Discreedly that collects these people all in one place. And all of a sudden now we can connect with them. But on the other side of the world, is the problem of too much data. And Ben, your platform Inphronesis or the platform that Inphronesis created, envision helps organizations manage Big Data. Tell us about that. What what do you do when you get a lot of information?
Ben Weintraub 14:49
We find that medical conferences like ASCO and ash meeting here in New Orleans in a few days are a wealth a treasure trove of knowledge As data but opinion, consensus discussion, you want to capture the questions and answers that were asked at your presentation or your competitors presentation and, and see how concerned doctors are about the two deaths in that trial or the fact that 10% of the patients had an increase in LDL cholesterol. And you also want to pay attention to how that sentiment, or the opinions or the data are changing from one conference to the next. And PowerPoint summaries are difficult, but to produce at the time, but they’re even more difficult to go back to and find that information you’re looking for. It’s a bit of a challenge to communicate that you can your MSLs can all collect that information, but how do they communicate it efficiently between them each other and, and be able to benefit from the sort of building of that consensus opinion around it. So with all that in mind, and especially paying attention to the compliance and the privacy and, and other regulatory aspects, we had been doing this conference coverage for many years as consultants and decided that we needed to build a much more rigorous way to do this. And set about to create envision with all that in mind.
Garth Sundem 16:28
Okay, so do you sort of follow up on the mechanics? But so then do you sit effectively a stenographer in the room for the q&a and capture these things in a Word document? And then transfer them over? Are you using natural language processing to somehow capture the recordings and create data from that? How do you create the data in the first place from congresses?
Ben Weintraub 16:48
We spend about 20 minutes training an MSL team how to do it themselves. And then they go to the meeting and they capture for all the things that they each attend. They, they they enter their notes in the system. And if they want to capture the slides, they can do that. And it’ll all be processed by an NLP and to text all those tools we do. We give them to make it super easy. We help them put together a schedule that, you know, tells them the best talks and posters to go to bind. But really, it’s to empower them to do what they do now and just just see the value of that information that they collect, get taken up to the next level.
Garth Sundem 17:31
Okay, so how to help an MSL team make the most of a scientific Congress?
Ben Weintraub 17:36
I would bet that sounds like not as good as Vinay’s tagline. But I’m going to take it.
Garth Sundem 17:42
Sounds good to me well, so that we have HCP interactions. We’ve talked about best practices for HCP interactions. And an interesting thing that we had brainstorm to talk about today is drawing the drawing the line from HCP interactions to ultimately improve the quality of patient care. And as as we don’t want to say wrap up yet we’ve we’ve got some more time. But as we move on, it’s the why of Medical Affairs. Right? You know, we’re trying to improve patient care. So improving HCP interactions might be tactical, right? And improving patient care is is the ultimate strategy. Vinay How does improving HCP interactions actually improve quality of care?
Vinay Tharayil 18:34
I think the one way we we can think about this by just looking at the the difference between an interaction between Medical Affairs and specifically medical science liaison versus an interaction with a sales rep right on it on average medical science liaisons will have about 30 to 60 minutes with the healthcare provider when they’re interacting with them, which means that there’s going to be a lot more level of, of data transfer knowledge transfer that’s happening in this in this type of interaction. So we’re at data in that simple framework itself, where we’re providing physicians with more information that they would probably receive in any other format or any other context of interaction within within the pharmaceutical industry itself. But then when we look at the data as far as like what happens with these interactions, or as a result of these interactions with an MSR and and physician, you know, recent study came out there was looking at sort of like the consequences or the sort of the the what happens after MSL is engaged with a physician. And we saw that, you know, over 89% of doctors will actually take some sort of action within, you know, after an MSL interaction, meaning that they feel even more empowered to use this new medicine to drive a better patient outcome for their patients to feel confident about using something that they may not have necessarily felt comfortable or confident by using. Previous to that interaction. And you know, we also see that about 40% of doctors will actually requests some of these follow up meetings with an MSL as a result of that value that there is See, and then interaction, which means that that physician is wanting to engage in an ongoing educational conversation and ongoing educational relationship between this MSR and the healthcare provider. So if the physician is finding value from that interaction with an MSL, that means that they’re receiving the information they need to drive better patient outcomes and improve their patient outcomes at the end of the day, as a result of this of this clinical relationship that they’re having between an MSL and a physician. So I think that’s kind of the, from me, and from my perspective, I feel that is really where we can help drive and improve patient outcomes. And that’s really what we’re trying to do with discrete at the end of the day is driving the data when the physician needs it the most. And I think that’s kind of the commonality that I see between like, you know, Ben’s platform, and ours is the speed, that we’re trying to have that speed to efficiency speed to data for providers. And if we’re able to provide this information in a timely manner, it should have an effect on patient outcomes at the end of the day. Because if you think about it, like sort of in sort of the current context of how an MSL may come into play with an interaction with a community physician, right? If it typically happens, maybe in the sense of, you know, if a physician has a question that a sales rep can’t answer, the sales rep has to put that question into the CRM that gets cascaded through a whole bunch of processes, which finally gets to the MSL emphasize to reach out and then you know, set up a meeting with the physician. And this whole process is two to three weeks, sometimes on average, which means that you’re basically delaying and, you know, it’s, it’s not time conducive for that patient, because maybe that physician or that question for a patient who’s in his office, or who’s about to come to their office. And if it takes that physician two or three weeks to get that information, it’s not going to lead to any direct effect on that patient outcome. And so I think that’s the thing that we need to improve on. And I think that’s, that’s what we can do between our platforms will be here and really help drive these patient outcomes at the end of the day.
Tim Mikhelashvili 21:56
Okay, and then Garth, I think one point that I think also we have to remember is that medical information is now doubling every 70 to 75 days. So, you know, physicians themselves, they are overwhelmed with information. And so all of Medical Affairs, including Field Medical MSLs, but also medical information, are now finding new ways, through different signs hubs, that they’re now hosting themselves on their websites, in order to provide information in a more timely manner, as you heard Vinay say, to the time sensitivity of the decisions, so, you know, smarter interactions of with pharma could lead to smarter clinical decisions as well such that it’s not just the intent to change behaviors clinically, but you are able to translate that and validate that, that it those changes behaviors and patient outcomes actually did occur with an MSL interaction that validates the medical information that you may have sent out, for example, or the physician may have seen on your website, so.
Garth Sundem 23:00
One thing I heard at the very beginning of this conversation was the idea of self service MedInfo and potentially on demand MSLs and Ben and Vinay, I’m sorry, I don’t remember which one of you the insights came from? But you know, are we in a transition period between the traditional farmer driven MSL outreach, identifying KOLs and HCPs and networks and proactively engaging them into, you know, the addition of a more self-service physician centered interactions with with pharma, they don’t know better, Vinay, if you want to speak to that.
Vinay Tharayil 23:44
Yeah, I can take that if you don’t want to. And I think that yeah, I think there is an opportunity now for us to have sort of this transition. As you mentioned, Garth, we’re having it in tandem with the current state of engagement with MSLs. Because I think the one thing that I think the common theme that a lot of companies are constantly talking about is customer centricity. customer centricity is like, you know, the buzzword. They hear it among every company. But what does that mean? You know, like, if you’re, if you’re wanting to drive a customer centric approach for engagement, that means we need to put the customer at the center of the starting point of that interaction and engagement. And so I think there’s definitely this opportunity to be able to drive customer centricity by having an on demand capabilities, or even, you know, putting physicians in there in the captain’s chair to virtually engage when you know, and they’re timely when it’s timely for them. So I think, yeah, there’s definitely we’re in this in this period now where we can have maybe combination at about, you know, the standard plus the new ways of interacting.
Garth Sundem 24:45
All right, well, in this transition period, thank goodness, we have innovators and new platforms that are going to help us generate this data, find the people we need to find and then manage the volume of data that inevitably is going to result on the back end. So thank you, Tim, Vinay and Ben for joining us today, listeners, check out an Amedea Pharma, Discreedly and Inphronesis. MAPS members, don’t forget to subscribe and we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series: “Elevate”.