What is the Future of Medical Affairs?
By Dr. Alexander Tolmachev
According to McKinsey & Company report, back in 2007 medical leaders from across the pharmaceutical industry assembled to develop a common understanding of a ten-year vision for Medical Affairs. With five years now past, it is hardly surprising that significant change has occurred in the world in which the pharmaceutical industry operates, especially given the remarkable economic environment and the continued acceleration of technological change. While many of the trends predicted in 2007 will continue, the pace of change is expected to increase even more as we approach 2020. The report states that three new, stronger forces will emerge that will greatly alter the healthcare landscape:
1. The definition of value will be much broader and will expand as the types of healthcare stakeholders who demand a demonstration of value increase. At the same time, there will be an increased focus on evidence and higher hurdles for proving product value.
2. Interactions between pharmaceutical companies and various medical stakeholders will continue to evolve with the emergence of new decision makers and with greater public scrutiny of these relationships. The role of patients will also fundamentally change with the rise of consumerism in healthcare.
3. The proliferation of data and demands for transparency we see today will accelerate as we head towards 2020. The number and types of users of medical data and information will continue to expand rapidly.
Given the significant changes in the healthcare landscape, this is an appropriate time to reassess and redefine the vision for Medical Affairs developed five years ago. Over the past 12 months, McKinsey & Company worked with Medical Affairs executives across the industry to produce this updated 2020 Vision for Medical Affairs. If achieved, the four aspirations below would enable the Medical Affairs function to create significantly greater value for their companies, industry and society:
1. Enhance patient access to best use of optimal medical treatment by clearly demonstrating value to practitioners and payors throughout the lifecycle of each product.
2. Embrace patient-centric healthcare by engaging and partnering with a broader range of healthcare stakeholders to more fully understand the different needs of patients and to be able to provide tangible value to patients.
3. Facilitate coordination and integration of different medical data and types of knowledgein the company and achieve external recognition for providing credible and unbiased medical information.
4. Acquire and develop the talent to cultivate and build a strong, multi-faceted Medical Affairs organization that encompasses the new set of competencies required to navigate the future healthcare landscape across the globe.
Much work will be required to realize this vision to create value for individual companies and the industry overall. At the heart of this effort, improved patient care and outcomes must be the central motivation of the Medical Affairs leaders. To do that effectively, Medical Affairs must become an equal to the R&D and commercial functions in advocating the patient-centric view. Deep patient insights have to come from engagements with emerging medical stakeholders and mining of new data, such as real-world evidence. Medical Affairs will also need to build new capabilities to leverage these insights.
1. Pharma Medical Affairs 2020 and beyond - McKinsey & Company Report. www.mckinsey.com