From the Ivory Tower to the Doctor’s Waiting Room: A New Reflection on Pharma, Research, and Patient Care

Stacey Rivkin

March 24, 2022

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Pharma has long existed in elevated, prestigious academic institutions: ivory towers of reputable and revered centers of excellence famous for disseminating the latest in clinical research and medical breakthroughs.

While these centers have existed and evolved in geographies like the Northeast where there are esteemed medical institutions, they may soon be nothing more than a picture in a history book. 

Long before the internet, we in the research world would wait with bated breath for the next congress or publication to hear about the latest groundbreaking breakthroughs in medicine. 

Today, HCPs are not waiting for wisdom to come down from the mountain. They’re taking to the internet; networking and getting new information digitally in real-time or on Twitter or talking to the specialists on the frontlines of treating patients. 

The internet has democratized data, research, clinical data, and information to bring it to the masses, and the dynamics and people that are rising to the challenge are not just in those ivory towers, they’re everywhere.

Drugs are now more complex, and specialists who see patients need a medical science liaison (MSL) contact to be up on the latest treatments, not necessarily the latest publications. With that, the approach for Medical Affairs teams and MSLs in their expert outreach, KOL identification and organizational strategy has greatly shifted. MSLs today are more focused on high volume specialists, rising stars, and digital opinion leaders as their new expert targets and crafting outreach in new and innovative ways. 

This has the opportunity to enhance their reach as well as their diversity and inclusivity of both investigators and trial participants. At H1, we are working with a big pharma client who is creating a whole MSL team dedicated to treaters who are NOT publishers, but are focused on where patient volumes are. Hospitals often focus new services and facilities in places where there are people who want and need care: the same is true for specialists and researchers and for the MSLs trying to find them. They will find the rising stars and KOLs where they find the patient populations. 

Those of us in the industry know who the big names in any therapeutic area are: finding local and regional treatment leaders and key influencers, however, is a different story. We can’t rest solely on the laurels of career longevity. For new and evolving treatments and research, we have to look across an entire new ecosystem and way of thinking. Digital opinion leaders are just that—leaders in a digital world. It’s a place sometimes far from the hallowed halls of institutions and sometimes as close as your Twitter feed. 

At H1, we strongly believe that access to expert opinions will help accelerate research, and our focus on life sciences and medicine will expedite the translation of basic research into healthcare and other outcomes that positively impact people’s lives.

To learn where to find the latest rising stars, digital opinion leaders and their Twitter feeds, let us show you the power of H1 Connect and HCP Universe.

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