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MedComm Blogs: How Medical Affairs is Becoming a Strategic Pillar in Pharma

Science and data are transforming the groundwork for pharma for both patients and customers and innovation is altering the healthcare landscape. These developments are expanding commercial opportunities across the industry. Medical Affairs has two functions in today’s pharma: First, internally, Medical Affairs is the link located between research and development organizations and commercial enterprise. Second, externally, MA operates as the link between an organization and several stakeholders such as medical communities, medical associations, payers, regulatory authorities, and patient advocacy groups.

The focus of these two functions is to communicate the secure and proper use of products to stakeholders while collecting insights from them that are relevant to medical practices and patient needs. This is the purpose of medical information – a role within medical affairs that acts as an information center that responds to product inquiries from healthcare professionals and others. Thanks to quality medical information, medical affairs is rapidly emerging as the third strategic pillar in pharma – joining Research and Development and Commercial.

How the Digital Revolution Has Impacted Medical Affairs

In this digital age, Medical Affairs has increasingly become a key strategic investment for global life sciences firms. New, specialized medicines require more scientific and evidence-based information for HCPs. Digital advancements are also contributing to the importance of Medical Affairs and shifting the entire healthcare landscape. Technology has shifted the way the world interacts (for example, social media) and disrupted industry models. Now, digital is also altering both patient and physician encounters. New digital advancements have automated the dissemination of knowledge and elevated expectations.

Within healthcare, there are more requests now than ever from patients, healthcare practitioners (HCPs), and medical advisers at payers and health systems. The need for solid but consumable relevant information has increased and changing regulations brings a demand for safety to break down silos and streamline data flow across applications. Additionally, organizations are seeking a solution that provides easy collection and exchange of adverse event and product complaint data, to eliminate time consuming manual reconciliation between systems. This leads to empowering stakeholders with information at their fingertips.

How the Automation Has Changed Medical Affairs Expectations

Medical Affairs is seeing a notable transformation thanks in part to its emphasis on automation. With its new role as a business driver, it is evolving from a part of pharma that provides support to one that plays a much more strategic role. Offering medical insights to detect strategic opportunities or risks for the company is one example of how MA is playing more of a strategic role. Changing regulations bring increased demand for safety surveillance. Top-notch Medical Information systems meet this need by breaking down silos and eliminating manual reconciliation across applications.

Additionally, automation and digitization are set to be the norm within the next few years with centralized Natural Language Processing (NLP) in medical information. NLP uses machines that respond to text or voice data and respond with speech of their own in a way that the recipient can easily understand. This tool helps to streamline business processes and increases productivity. Groups are also prioritizing automation due to emerging stakeholders. The majority of the once routine requests can now be automated to achieve efficiency by providing automated responses through chatbots (virtual digital assistants). This saves time and money and streamlines the entire workflow.

How Artificial Intelligence is Likely to Further Change Medical Affairs

The current approach of Medical Information is both manual and rigorous. Artificial intelligence is also playing its part in simplifying things for the future of medical affairs. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with challenges on all fronts and the demand for products to go to market faster means a mounting workload on medical affairs teams. During these difficult times, businesses are required to become agile by providing medical insights to identify strategic opportunities and risks for their companies. Medical insight is turning into actionable intelligence by leveraging AI on data – particularly CRM data and medical information data. This will be a true differentiator.

AI is quickly becoming standard across all major industries and the medical affairs field is no exception. Medical affairs is evolving into Medical Intelligence. As an important part of pharma, medical affairs is a business driver. By shifting into this strategic role, companies are now focusing on making their organizations smarter. This allows them to make better, more informed decisions that can yield positive results. Medical Affairs is becoming a trust center that companies can rely on for quality, timely and relevant information. Learn more about LifeSphere Medical Affairs here.