Inside MAPS 2023 Global Annual Meeting

Our team members who attended the MAPS (Medical Affairs Professional Society) 2023 Global Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, USA from March 26-29 had a meaningful experience discussing key topics affecting Medical Affairs with a record-breaking 1000+ attendees. Please continue reading for some meeting highlights and let your agency contacts know if you have any questions or would like to further explore these topics with them.

Keynote: Chris Fussell

Chris Fussell, President of McChrystal Group, bestselling author, leadership expert, and former US Navy SEAL, opened the meeting. He shared his insights on how organizational transformation—with a focus on developing impactful high performing teams (HPTs)—can give teams the skills necessary to respond to acute situations with focus, agility, and specialism.

Organizations, particularly companies with an established legacy, are built on principles of hierarchy (ie, clear delineation of reporting and increasing levels of leadership where decision makers are visible, but few). While this structure provides resilience, predictability, and the ability to efficiently scale up and down, companies organized this way lack the necessary infrastructure and means to collect insights at the outer reaches of their organization (eg, field teams), quickly relay these insights through the company, and, ultimately, reach rapid alignment and deploy solutions to mitigate acute situations.

Developing and integrating HPTs in traditional hierarchal organizations can provide the agility, connectivity, and specialism required to work effectively in an age of unpredictable environments where rapid assimilation and assessment of information and insights is key to competitive success. HPTs must trust each other,  share a common purpose and must work to develop an empowered culture. They must be connected to the larger hierarchal structure—not separate from it—as this allows for better insight sharing and actionable outcomes that are aligned to the company’s strategic goals.


A navy background with an abstract image, the IPG Health Medical Communications logo and text "Proud Chief Sponsor" along with the MAPS 2023 Global Annual Meeting logo

Omnichannel orchestration

IPG Health Medical Communications hosted an hour-long roundtable on experiential omnichannel engagement. Representatives from Alkermes, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly and Company, Janssen, Novartis Gene Therapies, Roche, and Teva participated in an intense debate, during which the following key questions were discussed:

  • To what extent is omnichannel aspirational versus realistic?
  • What is the relationship between Commercial and Medical Affairs, and is it possible to align goals?
  • How should Medical Affairs structure its staffing and resources for an orchestrated omnichannel communication and engagement plan?
  • Is there alignment on customer orientation across functions and within Medical Affairs?
  • What omnichannel structure is needed for MSL activities?
  • Given personalized content and engagement across channels that are both live and virtual, who is best placed to orchestrate engagement plans across customer types?

At MAPS, we rolled out the UN1TE platform, a fully modular and customizable omnichannel engagement hub that offers a unique, 3D experience for HCPs by providing a rich, immersive environment across all areas of scientific exchange. Those onsite got to explore UN1TE through an interactive touchscreen. Please let your agency contacts know if you would like to explore UN1TE to see how it may help with external engagements.

Benchmark study of Medical Affairs leaders on industry drivers and areas for investment, including measuring effectiveness and digital capabilities

A session led by Deloitte, Merck & Co, Vertex, and Astellas looked at four topics that were covered in a 2022 Deloitte interview of Medical Affairs leaders across 20 global pharmaceutical companies.

The topics were:

  • Industry drivers: The demand for more complex data generation, changing HCP preferences, payers as external stakeholders, and patients as external stakeholders were identified as the top external drivers impacting Medical Affairs.
  • Measuring effectiveness: Survey respondents ranked the importance of measuring MSL and publication effectiveness as “high”; however, they ranked their ability (at the time the survey was administered) to measure these as “low” and “moderate”, respectively. This was perhaps best reflected by the outcomes measures being used most: frequency of interactions for MSLs and number of publications in high impact journals for publications. Both of these outcomes measures lack depth of understanding of true impact.
  • Digital capabilities: Content management systems, structured content authoring, and more complex digital content were noted as already being implemented or in the planning stages. Interestingly, while omnichannel was noted as a top initiative, only 36% of the represented companies indicated they have the data infrastructure to fully support it.
  • Future outlook: The top themes noted for the future were collaborative evolution, early involvement in pipeline activities, digitally driven Medical Affairs, and the contextualization of clinical data.

Future frontiers in external education: collaborative implementation science, innovation, and future-ready medicine

Sarah Funderburk, SVP, Senior Medical Strategy Director at Caudex, an IPG Health company, co-moderated a workshop with Medical Affairs leaders from AbbVie, Astellas, and Amgen. The workshop focused on the future evolution of external education in social media, collaborations, and emerging digital technologies (eg, AI and AR/VR).

ChatGPT will be explored in future communications, but the following is an excerpt from a ChatGPT summary of the workshop:

“Attendees agreed that social media can be beneficial in education, and over half already use micro learning and gamification. "ManagePD" was highlighted as a successful collaboration between pharma, Parkinson's Foundation, and experts in the field. The workshop discussed how collaboration can be further entrenched in articulating a value proposition and delivering high-impact based external education. Also discussed was the emergence of AI and how it has the potential to transform the education cycle from assessing and predicting learning needs to automating assessments and evaluations, leading to more personalized learning experiences that deliver high-impact, outcomes-based, and measurable external education.”

Bringing your scientific communications platform to life

Panelists from GlaxoSmithKline, Ipsen, and Astellas explored how a scientific communications platform (SCP) can be a “living document” that is continuously updated, rather than something that is created once and then shelved.

Uptake, adoption, and updating the SCP were identified as the most common barriers to SCP utilization. The following tips to help with SCP utilization across teams (eg, Medical, Commercial, Payer, etc) were discussed:

1) Ensure everyone has trust in how the SCP was developed

2) Clarify, with examples, how the SCP can be utilized by each team

3) Ensure efficiency in development (eg, have a flexible framework) and complexity (keep it simple – no one wants an SCP with over 50 slides)

The panelists considered “hard” and “soft” metrics to track utilization/ and relevance of the SCP over time. Hard metrics include data on frequency of use, data on frequency of updates, and feedback from the team on SCP relevance. Soft metrics include efficiency in getting content created and/or approved and progression of conversation topics covered in an SCP with HCPs.

Not only do we already follow these three recommendations, but we also have several clients using ELEVATE, our proprietary platform that manages all the client’s internal scientific documents for consistent lexicon and narrative, data use, SCPs, biographies, and publication plans. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about ELEVATE.

The future of Medical Affairs 2030

As you may know, last year MAPS published a white paper that set forth their vision of Medical Affairs in 2030. Charlotte Kremer, the outgoing MAPS Chair, led a plenary session focused on key areas that have generated discussion since the white paper’s release. These include:

  • Regulations are complex, and it is imperative that Medical Affairs show benefit and value.
  • The value of Medical Affairs can be determined and articulated through the scientific narratives for products. Key areas for leadership include patient centricity, focus, and voice; endpoints that matter with respect to DE&I, patients, and novel focus; and interpretation of the clinical data, particularly in complex and competitive therapeutic landscapes.
  • HEOR has traditionally been seen as a commercial function, but Medical Affairs can, and should, have a leadership role given that payers are increasingly becoming key stakeholders.
  • Medical Affairs is important in developing integrated data insight and generation plans, particularly with respect to identifying phase 3b/4 studies/real-world evidence.