Today, healthcare professionals (HCP) work in a digital world, and pharmaceutical organizations must adopt advanced tools and capabilities for their Medical Sales Liaisons (MSL) and Field Medical Directors (FMD) to meet them in this environment. This is supported by a survey conducted by a top pharmaceutical company, the US saw an increase of over 792% and the EU saw an increase of over 576% respectively in online interactions between MSLs & HCPs.
The main function of the MSL is to be the external HCP-facing representative of the Medical Department, providing truthful, balanced, non-misleading, and non-promotional scientific or medical information. They are very familiar with the products and the wider disease area, and if they are unable to handle any questions raised, they can forward the request to an FMD with a greater level of expertise. Valuable insights gleaned from HCPs can help identify gaps and drive an organization’s medical strategy, which reflects the importance of each and every interaction.
With this in mind, a top five global pharmaceutical organization was looking for a way to improve communication, data capture and response times between HCPs, MSLs and FMDs by moving to a digital, real-time environment to effectively manage and record all interactions, whether scheduled or ad hoc, and all within a HIPAA compliant solution to observe strict security policies. Observing this need, the fast-growing biotech organization partnered with SourceFuse to develop a sophisticated tele-consult solution to address the global pharma company’s business challenges.
Some of the main retail and ecommerce business challenges the customer was looking to address, include:
- Fragmented or incomplete data: the pharma company used a few different tools to conduct their business. When it came to MSLs or FMDs connecting with HCPs, there was a disconnect in being able to see exactly who was driving these interactions and whether scheduled meetings had actually taken place, and this caused operational challenges. Workflow processes spread across multiple platforms (personal calendars, emails, phone calls, chat applications, online meeting chat feature, etc.) created gaps in data necessary for auditing, monitoring workflows and tracking efficiencies, and complete chains of conversation almost impossible to follow.
- Response times: typically, an HCP would be assigned one point of contact in the pharma company, such as an MSL, to whom they call or submit an enquiry. Very often, the MSL wouldn’t be expected to provide them an immediate answer but could get back to them with the name of someone who could. This meant response times were slower, relying on an FMD to get back to the HCP, follow-up calls to chase progress, or to schedule another call – and all this assuming the main point of contact was available in the first instance.
- Access to expert advice: for very specific enquiries, there was no easy way to know who to contact in the first instance. This meant instigating several calls, possibly resulting in several referrals, before reaching the right person who could help. The inability for an HCP to reach out to a wider team of experts simultaneously meant they were still reliant on their assigned MSL and awaiting a response.
Gautam Ghai Co-CEO & Co-Founder, SourceFuse, said: “Working with our customer and the pharma company, we explored the possibilities and benefits of a single integrated tool, which would provide the level of detail required to monitor and track all communications, as well as capturing notes or feedback from a meeting or call. So, we pitched the idea of a digital MSL solution that could become their ‘one-stop-shop’.”
Adhering to strict security policies was also a huge challenge: the ability for FMDs and HCPs to securely share data, information, conduct audio-visual meetings via readily available platforms was prohibited due to lack of HIPAA compliance, and restrictions on who can forward meeting invitations to whom was also essential.
SourceFuse were selected by the customer to partner with for several reasons:
- their experience of working with similar clients in healthcare and life sciences (SourceFuse are currently the only solution provider in APAC and South-East US with AWS Healthcare Competency, and 15th in the World)
- a proven track-record of implementing and deploying large-scale enterprise solutions
- all SourceFuse solutions being HIPAA compliant with 100% data security
But perhaps one of the biggest differentiators, compared to a lot of AWS partners, is that SourceFuse builds from scratch solutions and products on the cloud to meet the customers’ needs, rather than simply migrating existing applications to the cloud.
The strategic collaboration between the customer, the pharma company and SourceFuse quickly developed into an exciting and evolutionary joint initiative. The dedicated SourceFuse team were able to provide expert advice on how best to incorporate role-based features to meet their compliances, which helped to establish enormous trust, respect and customer satisfaction. Once the pharma company began to grasp the full potential, the speed and agility for incorporating additional modifications was such that the partnership was firmly cemented, and with future features planned as part of the customer’s ongoing and long-term vision.
The digital MSL solution consists of a suite of features, addressing their business challenges, including:
- Medical On-Demand (MOD) search
- Scheduler-Calendar tools (with auto time-zone adjustment, RSVP messaging)
- Content sharing
- Offline text chat
- Direct MSL calling – audio and video, with screenshare
One of the first features to be implemented was MOD search, to achieve immediate responses to medical queries. For example, for a specific medical inquiry, it is now possible to search for an entire team within that field of expertise and send one query to everyone simultaneously. Immediately after the first FMD responds they can be automatically pulled into a live call or chat, while the other FMDs receive automatic notification that the request is being dealt with.
Taking the strict security policies into consideration, SourceFuse ensured the digital MSL application incorporated a bespoke feature set designed with specific rules based on job roles. In addition, working in partnership with AWS, HIPAA compliance is assured through security-focused architecture solutions.
In order to accelerate the application development, SourceFuse used SourceFuse ARC , an open source, cloud native, multi-tenant framework which sits on top of Loopback. SourceFuse ARC incorporates a comprehensive range of microservices, for example, authentication, notification, scheduling, video and auditing microservices, therefore it was the perfect baseline for developing the new application. In fact, SourceFuse ARC has now become the ‘standard’ for all future product builds at SourceFuse, with the ability to add additional services or features specific to a customer’s needs, ultimately leading to reduced time to market, faster deployment and improved customer satisfaction.
It’s fair to say that as the true nature of COVID unfolded at an alarming rate, and face-to-face meetings could no longer take place, keeping MSLs, FMDs and HCPs connected online was critical, without compromising security, and as a result the solution deployment was achieved in record time by the committed product team at SourceFuse.
In meeting the pharma company’s key challenges, with its new platform they now have the ability to:
- Capture all information relating to every communication in a single platform.
- Achieve instant connection ‘on-the-go’ between HCPs, MSLs and FMDs
- Search for, and have access to, a team of relevant experts to assist with queries
Both this client and its pharma customer were very pleased with the smooth and very swift implementation, and confidence in the solution has meant that they are able to get more and more of their end-users online.