In this MAPS podcast, we speak with Luca Dezzani, Franchise Head Immuno-Oncology, AstraZeneca and Bruno Larvol, CEO and founder of Larvol, about the emerging uses of social media in the practice of Medical Affairs including best practices and compliance concerns for Medical Affairs professionals participating in the social media landscape.
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Garth Sundem 00:00
Welcome to this episode of the Medical Affairs Professional Society Podcast Series, Elevate, gathering the voices of Medical Affairs thought leaders and stakeholders to explore current trends, define best practices and empower the Medical Affairs function. Opinions are those of the presenters and do not imply endorsement by their organizations. I’m your host Garth Sundem, communications director at MAPS. And today we’ll be speaking with Luca Dezzani, Franchise Head Immuno-oncology AstraZeneca, and Bruno Larvol CEO and founder of Larvol about the emerging uses of social media in the practice of Medical Affairs. This podcast is made possible by Larvol. Larvol has been accelerating decision making since 2004 by providing real time customized competitive intelligence software, with data driven analytics to the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare industries. Larvol’s comprehensive KOL monitoring solution Omni ensures that MSLs stay ahead of the competition with in-depth updates on their KOLs’ activity. Omni also makes it easy for MSLs to prepare for and track engagements with their kayo wells by providing access to publications, clinical trial involvement, social media posts, and upcoming conference participation. So Bruno, Luca, welcome!
Bruno Larvol 01:25
Hello. Hello. Hello. So thank you for having me.
Garth Sundem 01:29
You’re very welcome. I wanted to start out, you know, I think that Medical Affairs in general is fairly comfortable with the idea of social media being used as a listening tool. But now we are starting to evolve beyond listening. And I’d love to hear you know, Bruno, do you mind starting just by talking about what are some of the emerging uses of social media beyond listening?
Bruno Larvol 01:53
Yep, yep. Well, the first thing I want to say is that we are still very, very early. In my in my opinion, the pandemic is accelerating things of your state. But a lot of our customers are still, I would say exploring how to do more than listening. So right now they are learning to listen to listen actively, and especially to use social media to identify opportunities for engagement, for example, like webinars and symposium, podcast Grand Rounds online, and in the still the looking at how to engage in a way that would be compliant. And they’re trying to figure it out right now, I would say overall, from our medical fair, do not engage very much, as far as I can tell. And they’re trying to figure out what is the right etiquette? What is the right rules? To do it in a way that would be compliance? friendly?
Garth Sundem 02:57
That’s interesting. So do you see and maybe Bruno, do you see compliance as the major, major hurdle to moving beyond listening? Or? Or is it the vision to know how to use these tools beyond listening?
Bruno Larvol 03:11
Is that That’s right. It’s both. In some time, compliance is a bit of an excuse for maybe the medical care professionals. Luca is very, very engaged. But many, many medical care professionals and MSL are little bit less maybe oriented towards engagement to start with in social media. And so part of it is compliance. And sometimes that good point compliance may be an excuse for not engaging in I think it’s going to change is changing slowly, I think it’s going to change. But even even we were surprising on cottagey, for example, the the number of KOLs that are active, really engaging, let’s say Twitter, is still small. It said a very small subset of key opinion leaders now we call them digital opinion leaders. So both with MSLs and medical professional and with care, well, we are still, we’re still early, I would say,
Garth Sundem 04:26
Okay, well, so listeners, if you don’t already follow Luca Dezzani on LinkedIn, you should go do that. Because Luca, I see you as someone who personally is pushing forward in in their innovative use of social media in Medical Affairs. So could you tell us a little bit about you know, either your personal use or organizational use of social media right now what what is beyond passive listening for you?
Luca Dezzani 04:53
Yeah, I think I think there are, you know, amazing opportunities and I completely agree with Bruno, I think we are really only scratching the surface for the time being in terms of organizational use, you know, companies, establishing a thought leadership in Medical Affairs in particular, is definitely a good tool, a good way of attracting talents, right. So in far mobility, we are always looking for the brightest minds and in depth in Medical Affairs, we want to attract young talented people are very often from science from academia, or from other companies, right. So if we managed to establish our Medical Affairs organization, as a thought leader in the space, we are going to be much more attractive to people who are interested in exploring career opportunities with with our company with our organization. That’s one point in terms of personnel use. Obviously, you know, it’s kind of the flip side of what I just just described, right. So if I am an MSL, who is looking for, again, career opportunities, it’s, it’s good for me to be visible on social media, it’s good to establish myself as a thought leader in, in, in the medical engagement space. And so that’s a that’s another, another point that and more on the business side. And it mean, if I am very active, let’s say on social media regarding real world evidence, right, because that’s the topic I’m passionate about. And you know, and I constantly produce content regarding our Wi Fi. It’s likely that someone in terms of key opinion leaders, investigators, may one day reach out to me because they have an idea or proposal regarding a collaboration on real world evidence, and they know that I am passionate about the topic, I know a lot about the topic, I’m been publishing on social and posting on social my social channels regarding RWE. So I’m also able to attract potential opportunities for collaboration.
Garth Sundem 07:29
That’s really interesting, because I think, you know, we think of social media as a way to track down thought leaders, but you’re saying that you can become a thought leader. And and there’s, there’s advantages, you know, professionally, and even to your organization of you being a thought leader.
Luca Dezzani 07:51
Exactly, exactly. And, and, and I think on top of that, there are other avenues that, you know, again, we are really only starting to explore, I have some experience, for instance, running medical education programs, on social media, and on Twitter in particular, and, you know, medical education is something I often say, you know, just to illustrate my point, you know, when if you if you have in mind the model of Tiktok, or, or, or, or YouTube. And so you have this constant stream of content, right, you, you watch a video, and when the video ends, the next one starts right away, and so on, and so forth, like an endless stream of content. And the more you watch it, the more the algorithm learns what you like and what you don’t like, because you skip those videos, right? When you don’t like something on Tick tock, you skip it, right, and you you move on. So the algorithm learns what I am interested in, and it customizes my feed to what I’m interested, and what it’s relevant to me. So I see Medical Affairs becoming more and more able to address physicians needs educational needs, just by leveraging data and learning more about what is relevant to our stakeholders, I would love to see that kind of automation and machine learning happening in in them in Medical Affairs, as we see on Tick Tock or or YouTube. Well, in that case, it’s almost like you become the algorithm, right? Like you’re learning how to serve relevant content to your audience. And so you know, you are broadcasting relevant content through through your LinkedIn.
Garth Sundem 09:52
Well, okay, so, so, these are the emerging uses now. I follow you Bruno on Twitter and, Luca, I follow you on LinkedIn. And, you know, I find that your voices are very different. So I wonder, how should Medical Affairs professionals be presenting themselves online? in social media? Bruno, you’re pretty informal. How do you feel about the voice of your social media? Representing you and representing your organization?
Bruno Larvol 10:29
Yeah. So I have an approach that perhaps is just for me, or perhaps is for other people as well, is that I have decided not to make a difference between the professional and the personal side of who I am. So by nature, I would post on Twitter, on Facebook, on on LinkedIn, and it would really be the same person, essentially, and, and not sort of compartmentalize the audience. Now, some people don’t want to do that. And some people have been advised not to do it. But I feel that it’s too unnatural for me to be one person on Twitter, and a very different person on Facebook. And so I essentially say, Well, I’m going to be the same person, I’m going to be in formal, I’m going to talk about myself as well. And, and that works for me, I’m not saying it works for everybody. But I, I do suspect that, that social media forces us a little bit in being ourselves in being authentic. And, and it becomes harder and harder to compartmentalize. And in my mind, it’s a good thing. Because the standards of professionalism are evolving. And I think the evolving towards unifying the different components of who we are.
Garth Sundem 11:58
Well, so that comes from the perspective, I mean, you’re the CEO of your organization, are their compliance issues for Medical Affairs professionals, who are not the CEOs of their organization? You know, how, if you’re not the CEO, or even if you are, how can you engage as yourself in social media, and still be compliant within your organization? either or both of you?
Luca Dezzani 12:25
Yeah, I think I think, you know, the compliance piece is super important, right? I really want to emphasize, you know, how important it is for anyone, unless, to your point, you are the CEO. And, and, of course, you can really speak on behalf of your organization if you want to, but if you’re not the CEO, or in general, right, what you really want to stay away from is, you know, you don’t want to speak on behalf of your organization, unless, of course, you know, you have the green light from the company to do so. So that’s the most important point, then the it’s really important that we partner with our legal and compliance colleagues. Also, because rules and regulations are very different. If you think of the privacy regulations in Europe, much more, you know, strict, and, you know, even social media listening, you know, there are limitations in many countries in in Europe, a little different than in the US. So, it’s really a very complex matter. So, I guess my encouragement is always to check with you know, the experts and make sure that what we are doing is appropriate. But again, the key is always the key concept in my mind is always making very clear that you know, what you are expressing on social media is your personal views. Again, unless this is part of a program that has been agreed upon with with the organization, okay.
Garth Sundem 14:06
And is that intrinsically understood by an organization? So if you as a Medical Affairs professional decide to start a Twitter account and start tweeting, is it is it assumed that you are expressing only your own opinion? Or do you need to involve your organization from the start in some sort of approval of your activities?
Luca Dezzani 14:34
I get I can I can start but Bruno, please chime in. I think, I think I wouldn’t assume anything. And you know, I would rather you know, double check maybe again, depending on your where you are, where you are located depending on your company, depending on a variety of different factors. It may not be an issue at all and Or, you know, you may have some restrictions, right, you may have some guidelines to follow. So, again, I am not a compliance expert, and I don’t want to speak for the experts, I think my encouragement is always to check with your, you know, appropriate colleagues within within the organization and make sure you’re doing the right things.
Bruno Larvol 15:22
The other thing for me, for example, I decided, personally, not to talk politics. Because in some time, I’m also restraining a little bit some some jokes I want to make. Because you’re right. If you work in a pro, if you if you’re in social media, both at the personal and professional level, there is sensitivity you have to be conscious of. So I decided to make sure that whatever I post, nobody could guess my political views. Otherwise, it could create some challenges in general. So I decided to self impose certain limits to what I’m going to talk about.
Garth Sundem 16:10
That makes a lot of sense. Well, you know, and it seems like so much social media is a, it’s sort of an ecosystem of smaller communities, right, that gather or coalesce around different topics. And, you know, I wonder if in addition to opportunities for using social media, kind of as tools to get what we want, in Medical Affairs, you know, to learn to listen, to create insights, to create relationships, I wonder if there is also an opportunity, and I see this in both of your social profiles to to create more of a Medical Affairs community that’s been lacking? What do you think about that?
Bruno Larvol 16:59
Well, I would just, I would just say that there is a great opportunity. And and some of the work that Luca and others are doing, whether it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn, and now maybe on clubhouse actually, is going in that direction. And I don’t want to flatter Luca too much here. But the kind of profile he is building, and how he’s using social media, to communicate with people in the medical community, to to create value is a way people like to build profiles and professional profiles in the industry, and is going to be increasingly important in careers. I have no doubt that down the road, people who want to build a successful career need certainly to be actively listening to the conversation on social media, because a lot of their learning is going to come from that. But we’ll also engage with leadership in that conversation. And so, I mean, obviously, I’m on the vendor side. So it’s a little bit different, but Luca is a great example of someone who is doing that so well. Okay. I’ll bite. Tell me what in the world is clubhouse and Luca, what is what is next beyond that? So just, we will send you an invite on clubhouse!
Garth Sundem 18:30
Bruno Larvol 18:32
Now I get by the way, I got Luca on I think I’m the one who got to do count on Tick tock, so is now on Tick Tock. And clubhouse is growing nearly faster than Tick Tock. It’s incredible. It’s essentially Twitter, or you’re only it’s actually this continuous podcast with a median voice and rooms with mini podcast, organized in a semi impromptu way. And we’ll send you an invite.
Garth Sundem 19:01
So that sounds great. Well, okay, so this is what’s next. I mean, people get comfortable with Twitter. And and, you know, I’m sure we’re all comfortable with LinkedIn. But you know, social media, it seems like, you know, we’re talking about the emerging uses of social media as if those emerging uses will emerge, and then we will use them. But if anything is constant in social media, it may be that things continue to emerge, that we continue to have to wrap our heads around. closing thoughts on that, Luca?
Luca Dezzani 19:35
Yeah, I think I think, um, you know, the, it’s key, it’s really key that we, and, you know, come join forces when it comes to exploring social media in Medical Affairs, and that’s why I think, you know, we cannot do even something like social media listening. You need to have the right platform, right? Whether you leverage larval or another platform, you need to you need to partner with the people that have the capabilities and the companies that have the capabilities to make it happen. And I’m using social listening as an example. But the same applies to medical education. And Twitter chats are becoming more and more popular. You need the right vendors and the right capabilities to run Twitter chats in, in Medical Affairs. And I think, you know, just one final thought. And I think what we haven’t seen yet, is the disruptive innovation. We haven’t seen the Netflix of Medical Affairs yet. And is that gonna happen when it’s going to happen? I don’t know. But I think we are gonna we are incrementally improving the way we do Medical Affairs, the way we leverage social media and new technologies and digital technologies in Medical Affairs. We are still waiting for the big disruption, right? We are really waiting for the disruptive innovation that will take Medical Affairs really to the next level when it comes to digital transformation. That’s my my assumption.
Garth Sundem 21:26
All right. Well, the digital innovators who are listening to this, I encourage you to get in touch with Bruno and Luca, and I’m sure that you will have some interesting collaborative discussions. So thanks, Bruno, and Luca for joining us today, MAPS members, you can continue the conversation at our community portal. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. We hope you have enjoyed this episode of Medical Affairs Professional Society podcast series, Elevate