Improving Technology Improves the Lives of MSLs

Ariel Katz
Feb 9, 2021

Technology That Makes Life Easier for MSLs

The job of a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is rewarding but can be difficult. MSLs spend a lot of time on the road, meet many people, and discuss and relay highly technical and complex information. On top of that, they need to constantly learn and add to their own knowledge base.

Modern technology can help MSLs manage their workload and change the way MSLs access and share information, keep up-to-date on the latest data, and interact with physicians and other thought leaders.

Becoming a Real Time MSL

As recently as five years ago, tablets were the latest in technology for a field-based medical workforce such as MSLs. Today, tablets are commonplace and used widely to present scientific information to physicians and to communicate with stakeholders. Tablets and other smart devices are also increasingly used to capture information directly during meetings and as a means of relaying information back to the relevant groups within the company.

Adoption of new technologies by MSLs is increasingly driven by the healthcare providers’ demand for real time information and answers. In an age where information in a personal setting is available with a few keystrokes, healthcare providers expect the same real time availability of information in a professional setting. For an MSL to be successful in such a real time environment, they must have access to an on-demand portal that can be used at any time, allowing them to react quickly to a request, wherever they may be. The information in the portal should be granular so an MSL can readily find the answer to a specific question rather than having to extract it from a lengthy PowerPoint deck.

An interesting aspect of this demand for instant information is that it has the potential to turn around the established dynamic of the MSL pushing information to the HCP and to create a pull situation in which the HCP reaches out to the MSL for information. Quick access is especially relevant in situations where the healthcare provider needs the information in a timely manner, e.g. while treating a patient. An MSL, who is equipped to get back quickly with answers to these questions adds immediate value for the HCP. In addition to using text messages, cloud-based real time messaging and file sharing tools can greatly improve real time communication and collaboration.

Virtual Doc Meets Virtual MSL

Virtual meetings can make it a lot easier for HCPs and MSLs to meet either for an update or to discuss a specific question or issue. These virtual meetings can be scheduled and set-up quickly, as the need arises, and reduce the cost to the pharmaceutical company greatly by cutting down on travel related expenses. Though virtual meetings can’t replace in person meetings completely, the convenience of scheduling a quick discussion that fits the HCPs schedule and does not require the MSL to spend hours on the road or in a plane, add flexibility and make the HCP-MSL interaction more immediate and relevant, especially in cases where the HCP has an urgent need for information.

The same technology can also be used to train MSLs. MSLs are in charge of working closely with recognized subject matter experts and providing them with data and information. This role requires constant training and updates on the latest data and study results. Training an MSL workforce all over the country or world is a formidable challenge for companies, and using virtual meeting and real time communications tools makes this task more manageable.

Technologies to Make Life Easier

Apps can also make the life of a busy MSL easier as these examples show:

  • Scanning business cards directly into your phone’s contacts avoids time-consuming data entry and reduces the risk of losing all of the information – leaving business cards sitting on the desk in some hotel room no longer becomes an issue.
  • Cloud storage avoids last-minute issues with files that are too large to send and ensures the MSL always has access to the very latest version of every document - even the huge document with the cool animation.
  • Voice applications are on the rise and for good reason: apps that automatically transcribe voice memos into text can be useful in many situations, from sending a quick text when running late to recording a “note to self” with action items after a meeting.
  • For MSLs who work and travel a lot, especially internationally and across time zones, it is often the small things that make life hard: scheduling meetings across time zones, figuring out what that rental car costs in US Dollars, finding a place to grab a quick bite. Mobile apps provided needed aid for all of these issues and many more.

Technologies are developing rapidly. For MSLs, that poses both a challenge and a benefit. They now have many more tools at their disposal which makes their job easier, but keeping up with new technologies is challenging yet vital in an ever more fast-paced environment.