Driving Medical Affairs Value


Our client was a Medical Affairs team preparing to launch a new therapy into a mature category. Although their science represented a new mechanism for the disease state, KOLs around the world had been expecting this mechanism for years. To keep up with competing companies in the face of the impending launch, the Medical Affairs department doubled its number of MSLs

The challenge: About half of the client’s MSLs had significant therapeutic experience, but as the client scaled up its MSL team, experience varied widely. Medical Affairs sought unbiased feedback on MSL effectiveness and identification of specific gaps for MSL training.

Clinical SCORE Approach:

  • Clinical SCORE obtained a “target list” of KOLs that the company’s MSLs visit, along with the number of times that each KOL had seen a company MSL within the last year. Clinical SCORE surveyed several KOLs from each MSL’s target list.
  • Maintaining the “client blind,” Clinical SCORE compliantly surveyed these KOLs regarding both:
  1. MSL service, including activity by both the client’s and competitors’ MSLs
  2. Their understanding and implementation of the client’s clinical science

Clinical SCORE’s proprietary survey includes both custom and standardized questions.



  • Clinical SCORE statistically analyzed KOL data, comparing the client’s MSL ratings to competitor ratings and comparing KOLs’ understanding of the client’s science with their implementation of that scientific understanding.
  • The data revealed (see graphic below):
    1. Newer MSLs’ ratings – in aggregate – lagged the ratings of more senior MSLs.
    2. KOLs who did not believe (or understand) the client’s science also did not “value” the client’s MSLs as highly as KOLs whose behavior was consistent with the client’s science.
    3. Communication of the client’s science was not translating to clinical practice for nearly half of the KOLs.

Compared to competitors, your MSLs are more knowledgeable about the disease state and provide better support for programs. However, your MSLs would benefit from training focusing on interpersonal interactions: being more responsive and respectful of KOLs time.



Clinical SCORE’s analysis identified areas for improvement in MSL-KOL relationships and scientific communications. As a result, the client:

  • Increased focus on KOL relationship-building in its training program
  • Added a KPI and metric: MSLs are to respond to KOL emails within 4 hours with a “90% of the time” target
  • Revised its scientific communications to place more emphasis on data supporting those areas causing the greatest skepticism and including more practical implications in its existing slide decks
Table 4
Get feedback to improve MSL training.