Optimize your Field Medical Team for the Omnichannel World
Speaker: Kelly Lo
Speaker: Donnie Wooten Jr., PharmD
At MAPS Global 2023, “omnichannel in Medical Affairs” was a hot topic across numerous sessions. As part of the Field Medical track, Rosie Humphreys, Senior Director at OPEN Health, Donnie Wooten Jr., Global Head of Strategic Medical Content & Omnichannel at Organon and Kelly Lo, Field Medical Excellence, Global and Japan and Asia Pacific at Amgen conducted an interactive workshop, entitled “Optimize your Field Medical Team for the Omnichannel World”. Over 180 attendees, across two sessions, learned how an omnichannel approach is integral to maximizing Field Medical engagement with HCPs. This podcast will discuss the outcomes and insights of that workshop and how Field Medical can build skills and garner support to effectively implement omnichannel strategies.
Following is an automated transcription provided by otter.ai. Please excuse inaccuracies.
Garth Sundem 00:01
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 talking about omni channel engagement with Rosie Humphreys, Senior Director at OPEN Health, Donnie Wooten Jr, Global Head of Strategic Medical Content and Omni Channel at Organon, and Kelly Lo, field medical excellence, global and Asia Pacific and Amgen. So you guys presented a session at the MAPS 2023 annual meeting in Nashville, titled optimize your field medical team for an omni channel world. We had over 180 people attend over the two times I guess you offered this session, and you got great reviews. So we thought we would talk about some of the session takeaways for those who couldn’t attend. So Rosie, tell us about the session.
Rosie Humphreys 01:01
Oh, thanks, God. So we ran this session as a face to face workshop, we had roundtables where we actually segmented our audience with with the omni channel mindset, we wanted to kind of communicate that into the workshop too. So we had three groups or three segments in our audience, which was just starting out on the journey of omni channel and actually keeping who felt they were doing omni channel. And we could compare this to the recent Allen analogy from the digital for which was crawl, walk, run. And the idea here was that people would be able to engage with peers at similar stages of that omni channel journey.
Garth Sundem 01:41
Alright, so if we’re talking about omni channel, and we’re talking about segmenting the audience, that seems like maybe a first point to talk about with Omni channels. So Kelly, you decided to segment the audience? What was that meant to show?
Kelly Lo 02:00
Thanks, God. Yeah, and when it comes to segmenting the HCPs, and the audience, I think that personal last session, it would probably be the first concept. So I think is very critical that we do have a good profiling and segmentation framework when it comes to omni channel. So when it comes to that, I think it is not unfamiliar with the FUE medical team, because we have been playing a very pivotal role in profiling our HCPs. So we profiled our HCPs, based on demographics, clinical interest, specialties. And I think many companies also use a framework called the tiering system, which is based on the FCPS influential level. However, when we’re considering the omni channel world, this traditional way of profiling may not be sufficient. And so I think when it comes to stepping into the omni channel world, it’s important to also think about a segmentation framework that is aligned with your engagement, strategy, medical focus, that will really help you to target your engagements with the different segments of HCPs. So for example, in my company, we have developed a segmentation framework that is based on the X, CPS, knowledge level and educational needs, right, so that we can really target the way we engage and contents for the different segments of HCPs.
Garth Sundem 03:50
What is what is this group think about? sort of ask a very mechanical question, but you know, it seems like historically, we’ve maybe been able to have, I don’t know, maybe a half dozen profiles or something based on these characteristics. I mean, now we’re talking omni channel we’re talking about, very personalized, we’re talking about very targeted, how far should we go with this? Are we talking 37 profiles now for HCPs and KOLs? Or how far are we going with personalization?
Donnie Wooten Jr 04:23
I can jump in. And I think Kelly and what she shared from the Amgen team and her organization is a good example of, you know, core way to start or segmenting the way you want to approach your business. What is the key needs and factors that are going to play for success in driving your strategic imperative, but then there’s also segmenting based off of the behaviors of that provider understanding those providers who want to have content in a very different way. So maybe some of your providers want to have content delivered in the face to face setting and they want to have conversation across some of your provider websites, really getting an understanding of how they themselves segment themselves into a different group. So I don’t know, personally, if it’s a, if it’s a numbers game, or if it’s a decision is based off of your business, what we’re doing in Organon is we’re setting that up for the field teams that make that decision, what works for your business? How many individuals do you think is appropriate for what we call a roster or your Kol engagement list? What do you think is the most appropriate thing that they need based off of whatever part of the regions you are? So for instance, in some organizations that are some parts of the world, certain channels aren’t available, or are different. So if you’re in, you know, the China market, they’re looking at WeChat, and black ham and other Latin markets, they use whatsapp a lot. So all of those are mostly multifactorial, and I believe that it works best when you allow those individuals who engage with those providers to make those decisions on numbers and the approach.
Garth Sundem 06:06
Rosie, I see you nodding, go ahead.
Rosie Humphreys 06:08
Yeah. And what was really interesting is based on what you’ve just heard from Kelly, and Donnie, the second part of the workshop was an interactive exercise, where we got those three segments, the three groups in the room, to identify the key skills for field medical teams, to allow them to be successful in this omni channel era. So some of the things you’ve heard, you know, it’s really key to understand your audience understand your customer. And that, you know, segmentation comes into that piece. Other topics such as digital literacy, key communication skills, commercial mindset came up, which was another interesting discussion. And then finally, knowledge of relevant platforms and technology. So you can see that the skill sets we’re looking at now for fuel medical teams has evolved over time, in line with the medical strategy and what organizations now want to achieve with their omni channel engagement plans.
Garth Sundem 07:04
Oh, interesting. Let’s let’s dig it on skills in a second. I want to get back to that. But But Donnie, and I guess the group in general, I wanted to follow up. It seems like in terms of segmentation, we used to segment based on what we could based based on the HCP. You know, we put them in tears, we would look at demographics and region. But what I’m hearing from you Donnie is is that a strategy first approach to segmentation drives, then which segments we need, is this flipping the direction of how we implement segmentation meaning, we’re not saying we’re segmenting because we can on these factors. But we’re saying we’re segmenting. Now, based on our strategic imperatives?
Donnie Wooten Jr 07:56
If I understand the question, right, you’re asking like, are we doing things different from how we were doing it before? Like how we’re engaging field reaching those providers? I feel that as we were doing it before, but not as precise or with a lot of effort or strategy around it? What I mean, for instance, what other organizations where I was in the field, we were already looking at, you know, are these individuals, academic providers that we’re focusing on? Are they community? Are they you know, mid tier providers in the way you approach them would be very different. So the segmentation concept is something I think medical has done for quite some time. I think now we’re looking at it a bit more strategically, like I think, as Kelly mentioned, so first looking at what type of strategic imperative does your business need to meet? And who’s the right audience to support driving that imperative for it? So looking at those audiences in that way, and then broadening it out? You know, how can we more so tailored to what the provider wants, and instead of looking at it in a very individual, one by one, looking at it in a group in a segment, you’ll know, certain certain characteristics of certain groups act the same? And I think that’s what we’re trying to approach it based off the framework that Kelly described based off how we’re doing it in our organization is how can you begin to create kind of groups that you can approach them in the same way and, and drive some of the same results?
Garth Sundem 09:28
Okay, thanks, Donnie, let’s go back. Let’s go back to oh, sorry, Kelly, go ahead.
Kelly Lo 09:33
I would just like to add on to Donnie’s comment, I completely agree that I think starting with a strategic imperative that is aligned with your medical strategy, that would give you the what So always start with the wants to to engage with right is the what what type of content is what will be the right message or the the educational needs that the the FCPS would require hire and and then down comes down to the how which is we think about what channel to engage, what is their clinical interest? And that helps us to answer the how questions. So when we add up the what and the how that gives us a really good personalization to our engagement.
Garth Sundem 10:22
Okay, thanks, Kelly. Let’s let’s go back to skills. So we have scientific and clinical acumen, we’re starting to grow. business acumen. And Rosie remind us what else we need now for omni channel implementation.
Rosie Humphreys 10:42
From the workshop, we identified five top skills that are needed for field medical teams and, and those were starting with understanding your customer, digital literacy, communication, commercial acumen or business acumen, and then knowledge of relevant platforms and technologies.
Garth Sundem 11:02
Okay, interesting. And can we? Can we train this in our field medical staff? Or do we need to hire it new?
Rosie Humphreys 11:11
Interesting question, because the first exercise was, what are those key skills that are needed for success in omni channel? The second exercise was, what are those key skills that are not yet optimized, so trying to identify the skills gap, and therefore how we can support organizations to fill those. So, for example, in terms of the skills that a lot of people felt, were not yet optimized, that commercial acumen came up as number one, followed by things like data and metrics, interpretation, strategic thinking, adaptability, and listening skills. So even the nature of those skills is changing. And we’re seeing a lot more discussion around soft skills than than we did in the past.
Garth Sundem 11:55
That’s interesting. Do you think that scientific and clinical acumen then is just assumed or it’s the it’s the, it’s the foot in the door? And then all of these other skills build on top of those?
Donnie Wooten Jr 12:15
Yeah, I think so. I think that in order to be within the Medical Affairs organization, you have to have scientific acumen. And then it’s all about, you know, seamlessly weaving all of those other important elements into that scientific and clinical acumen, the soft skills are important to how you get access to those providers and build rapport with them. But you also want to be building rapport around science and clinical discussion when it comes to strengthening our digital capabilities of our field medical teams that should only be weaved in with how they engage around clinical and scientific discussions as well. So I think it’s an addition. And it’s also one of those things, I philosophically believe that teams will be much more successful when you do that in a way that builds on how they’re already doing business. We use the scientific engagement model, which is a seven step model from pre call planning all the way around to that post visit analysis. So how do you weave in all of these new skills into that? How do you weave in the omni channel experience into that already existing framework? So they’re not really learning a new kind of framework, they’re just learning how to weave in some new components into it.
Garth Sundem 13:31
That’s interesting. So we’re, let’s let’s go to implementation then, Donnie, and you know, field medical teams have existing ways of doing things, some of which are not yet omni channel. So how do we adopt omni channel into this model? Maybe we know what best practices are for omni channel? How do we get there?
Donnie Wooten Jr 13:56
Yeah, I echo again, like weaving it into the already existing ways of working, like besides beginning to remodel when you think about that post visit analysis, that final step of that engagement model, oftentimes, you want to like, follow up with the providers set up that next meeting or putting your insights to the organization but also communicating with that provider in the meeting when you’re building rapport. And after that meeting, to move them to another channel that they may have set share that they’re interested in, for instance, a number of organizations including ours has, have professional websites that are developed and tailored specifically for medical professionals that go in and find content that they’re interested in. So reminding them and navigating them directly to what they want to see and understand. So they are familiar with those channels and they know self adopt those channels. So I think that’s what we should do. I think as you’re training your teams on the scientific engagement model, building in those steps on how you, you know, build reform around basketball, should about what channels of interest what type of data are they interested in? And then how do you lead them across your organization channels?
Garth Sundem 15:08
Kelly Lo 15:09
So can I may I add on to Donnie’s comment about the importance of channel selection. And I think it’s very critical for the not only the medical team, but also the organization to have a very good understanding of the landscape of different channel use for their local environment. Because as you can imagine that the company would put in a lot of efforts and investments and resources into developing a new channel. And so for example, we probably will be aware of the differences across the different countries using email as an example, we do see that email is a very heavily invested channel, a very commonly used channel in a lot of markets in, in the US and China in sorry, in Japan, and across a lot, a lot of different countries. But for example, in China, email is very minimal ly used because they use WeChat more, more prominently. And so is is very important to have that understanding. And interestingly, if you even look into the countries and across different TAs, you may find that there is difference. For example, in general medicine, where if you think about developing website as a new channel, in general medicine, maybe there is already a lot of available information or available websites and platforms and ensuring information to the HCPs and patients, and there may not be a lot of value to develop that as a new channel. Whereas in rare disease, that will play a very critical role, because that is the the information and the platform that’s lacking in that population or in that disease area. So when considering you know, the budget as a as a very critical factor in omnichannel, as well, so that the channel, landscaping will be very critical.
Garth Sundem 17:13
This This seems like we’re talking about building, I don’t want to say many things. But as to strategy first approach to which channels are most highlighted in your Omni channel strategy, regionally, and across therapeutic area? This seems like it might require some resourcing or support. Rosie, how do how do we get that?
Rosie Humphreys 17:43
Absolutely. I think we recognized in the workshop that we’re asking a lot of field medical teams now, you know, as you said, the scientific acumen as a given but now we’re also asking about these soft skills and this market specific knowledge. And it is asking a lot of those teams, so No, they can’t do it alone. So the last section of the workshop actually was to identify those key areas of support to help field medical teams get to that omni channel success. So in in the last section, here, we identified things like cross functional collaboration, having those conversations early between medical and other functions to understand perhaps what’s already been done, where, you know, budget has been invested so that you can leverage and build on that. Then, there were things like training and knowledge management. So again, going back to things like digital literacy and knowledge of specific platforms, technologies, and then we’re now in the space of AI. We need to support the field medical teams with that training to ensure that they feel competent and comfortable using those different digital channels and also technologies. And then lastly, there was a piece around senior leadership buy in, which was really important at the start of that omni channel journey. So one of the benefits of segmenting our audience was that we found that the support that is required to succeed very different stages of that journey. So at the beginning, you know, that cross functional collaboration, that strategic alignment with commercial was really important. And then for groups who were further on in their omni channel journey, that’s where, you know, budget investment training and knowledge management became more relevant. So you can see how those support areas are dialed up and dialed down depending on the stage of your own omni channel journey.
Donnie Wooten Jr 19:35
Yeah, and just to you know, further stress the point about the leadership buy in, it’s critical because you have so many elements of omni channel that doesn’t sit specifically with medical or doesn’t sit specifically with the field is really a cross pollination of your business. So if you think about the providers that the field medical team close calls on the commercial organization calls on the same providers, when you think about the strategy that you’re trying to address, the commercial has their strategy. And they really should tell a really comprehensive and good story. So they’re you’re giving a personalized experience this holistic and consistent across your, your business. So if the Leadership isn’t bought into the concept of working together, partnering and understanding how to move things forward, you’ll, you’ll hit bottlenecks, you’ll hit bottlenecks, where perhaps the content that is being created on medical is inconsistent with commercial because of some of the language that might be used. So it’s important that you know, Medical Affairs has a really big role in that scientific narrative. And working together cross functionally. So when a provider is talking to a commercial colleague, they’re getting the same type of understanding of that product verbally, as they would have medical colleague, you’ll hit bottlenecks, when you look at those channels, like Medical Affairs don’t own a lot of those channels internally that our providers would want to use. So, for instance, those professional websites or professional hubs with digital content, it’s likely that the commercial colleagues are owning that, but it’s important that when they can go into that with the medical stamp that Medical Affairs is the ones that are, you know, confirming what that looks and feels like as medical experts in the organization, and to give that credibility. So leadership by in funding and really alignment across the business to work in that manner is essential to success.
Garth Sundem 21:30
Okay, when I guess one last question, so and it’s another one about change. It seems like when we weren’t in the omni channel, world, and medical was implementing within medical, maybe we were building our own platforms and our engagement strategies moving forward. Does omni channel require us now to align across the business? And does that then provide an opportunity for Medical Affairs, to put itself forward as a real strategic partner alongside these other parts of the organization? Is omni channel the path to the third strategic pillar model of Medical Affairs?
Donnie Wooten Jr 22:15
I’ll just say one quick thing. Yes, absolutely. I think medical has has to leverage a commercial acumen itself, like understanding that, you know, you’re operating in a business, you’re operating in a business that’s driven based off the success of both businesses, both your medical business and your commercial business. And the most effective way to do that is to have some great alignment across both of those enterprises so that you can read the providers need so but I spoke a lot. Kelly, do you have any take on that?
Kelly Lo 22:47
Yes, absolutely. And I also agree that omni channel with omni channel Medical Affairs will become a very important strategic partner and the biopharma industry. And what I would like to also add that is that it was also being discussed quite extensively at our workshop that omni channel is a tool and that does not change the objective and the nature of scientific engagement that we are here to serve patients to advance clinical practice. And omni channel is is a tool and it is something that we need to align across the different functions. And it is an Abler for us to engage better engage with a more personalized approach and tailor our approach that meets the HCP meets of the new age. And so I think that’s one point that that really brings back on why we’re doing this and the nature of the Medical Affairs team has not changed, but it helps us to engage more effectively.
Garth Sundem 23:52
Oh, before we go, I know there are some resources that MAPS members and other listeners can use to follow up on today’s discussion and learn more. Kelly, I heard something about a paper.
Kelly Lo 24:05
Yes, so I would like to call that as we speak the summary report of our Nashville, Omni channel session is available. So please do check out the summary report. We will include a link and in our, within this podcast, so feel free to take a look.
Donnie Wooten Jr 24:28
Yeah, and I’ll add that MAPS has done a wonderful job and continuing dialogue especially with Field Medical, there’s a Medical Affairs Masterclass hosted by MAPS or Field Medical in San Diego November 6 through seventh and really opportunity space to deepen some of this omni channel and Field Medical.
Garth Sundem 24:49
All right, let’s let’s leave it there for today. So thank you, Kelly, Donnie and Rosie for joining us. To learn more about how your organization can partner with Open health visit OPENHealthGroup.com. MAPS members, don’t forget to subscribe, and we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series: “Elevate”.