Building rapport and relationships is different in virtual realm, but still a crucial part of the human experience and the role of the MSL. Acknowledging this void and being comfortable with technology platforms, flexible and efficient are some of the key messages that emerged out of the MSL Society's webinar.
On March 10, 2021, the MSL Society hosted a live webinar to discuss the experience of MSL leaders and teams nearly a year to the day since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down their ability to meet with KOLs in person in much of the world.
The conversation was moderated by MSL Society SEO, Dr. Samuel Dyer, and included MSL leaders Julio Fernandez (Novartis Oncology) and Dr. Niccole Larsen (ACADIA Pharmaceuticals) along with LARVOL CEO Bruno Larvol.
The panelists’ shared about both the challenges and opportunities that have emerged in this unique time, and offered advice to MSLs hoping to strengthen their KOL engagements this year. Read on for highlights and a short snippet from the hour-long conversation, provided by the MSL Society.
The panelists spoke to the utilization of technology as the biggest factor in overcoming the void of in-person KOL engagements.
Julio encouraged MSLs to investigate and be comfortable with a number of technology platforms so that they can meet KOLs on the platforms that are convenient for them and, importantly, allowed by their institutions. Niccole recommended asynchronous learning platforms as an emerging technology that can allow MSLs to manage education of groups in a virtual space.
They also emphasized that MSLs need to remain flexible and to focus on efficiency. They can play an important role in helping to connect HCPs with various people throughout their organization if they can truly understand the needs of the KOLs.
Bruno recognized that this ‘void’ of face-to-face engagements is new to the MSL experience and is very real and important. Building rapport and relationships is different in virtual realm, but still a crucial part of the human experience and the role of the MSL.
To the question of how to establish relationships with new KOLs without in-person engagements, the panelists emphasized networking and leveraging existing resources as key.
Julio recommended using both the MSL’s internal network and the KOLs they engage with already to look for connections that might lead to an introduction. He emphasized, however, that the MSL must bring value to each of these relationships in order to establish and maintain them.
“You have to earn the right for the next meeting by providing value” he shared. And Niccole agreed, emphasizing the need to make meetings more planned-out, even “regimented” to ensure their value.
“KOLs expect to stay on schedule since they are pulled in multiple directions and have limited time for scientific exchange.” It’s really important to be respectful of their time.
Bruno added that MSLs might carefully consider social media in this equation. “Active listening in social media is essential to gradually build that relationship” with new and existing KOLs as they increasingly engage in scientific conversation online.