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Strategic Role of Medical Affairs Amidst Covid-19 Outbreak

The growing importance of Medical Affairs' role further cements the need for digital tools to capture and analyze this amount of data and identify trends

Dr Anish Desai, Director, IntelliMed Healthcare Solutions

Medical Affairs is the critical scientific bridge between the Healthcare companies and its internal & external stakeholders. It plays a leadership role for implementing cutting-edge medical, scientific and patient-centred insights & solutions that drive strategy and innovation in healthcare. The healthcare ecosystem is dynamic   and being transformed with the latest tech solutions. It is believed that in the coming decade, all healthcare companies will leverage available data and technology solutions to boost productivity and efficiency.

In the current scenario of Covid-19, getting appropriate healthcare is a challenge. The visit to the outpatient department has great risk of exposure to the virus. Patients must decide between a high risk clinician visit and postponing needed care. Digital innovation and solutions can help to address these current limitations in the healthcare delivery system. In an endeavour to tackle this disruption the health care system is attempting to transition to “telemedicine” by unfolding the capabilities of digital technology. ICMR has allowed telemedicine amidst this pandemic. In 2019 there were 560 million internet users in India.  The high volume of patient load (millions) on a few trained doctors in telemedicine may burden the whole system and reduce its efficiency. Effective digital platforms are the need of the hour.

Liberate is a healthcare technology platform that unites the patients and the Healthcare Personals (HCPs). It is designed for clinicians to be used at the “point of care” (POC) to engage patients in a meaningful conversation about their condition and treatment. The web based platform makes it easy for the patients to understand their conditions through the recorded conversation and good visual aids.

Medical affairs with its knowledge of Data, Differentiation & Dissemination must use this opportunity to help bridging this interface between HCPs patients and other stakeholders.

Clinical insights emerging from real-world data can be communicated more efficiently via digital technology. The popular “big data”, “machine learning” (ML) and “artificial intelligence” (AI) will assist physicians in making the right decision for patients in our complex healthcare system. The medical affairs teams have in-depth medical/clinical knowledge and disease understanding, thereby making them critical for healthcare companies.

Medical Affairs Role in Stakeholder Engagement & Impact of Digital technology

Patients and HCPs being the primary Stakeholder engage the qualified medical affairs teams for up to-date and systematic information in an innovative way.  Medical Affairs has always been responsible for engaging key opinion leaders (KOL) and other stakeholders. But, now it enables “Stakeholder experience perspective”, that is to deliver what the stakeholder wants, when and how they’d like to receive it.

The 3 key areas are:

  1. Delivering exceptional customer experience focused on science
  2. Seamless connection of our digital medical information assets with external digital channel
  3. Use of AI models and ML technologies to enrich and expand the utility of real world evidence

The growing importance of Medical Affairs’ role with Real World Data further cements the need for digital tools to capture and analyze this amount of data and identify trends.

Advancement in Medical Insights Capabilities by Digital Innovation

Collection and analysis of unstructured data to identify current trend of unmet medical needs can create a powerful “digital medical insights engine. This will influence customer engagement and strategic decisions.

Areas in Medical Affairs Transformed By Digital Innovation

Transformed areas include:

  1. Communication
  2. Medical information
  3. Automation of routine functions
  4. AI and ML for promotional material review
  5. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality in education and training

To conclude, digital healthcare & therapeutics is an area where we are seeing success, and there are advancements in improving diagnoses, adherence, awareness, and self-management of conditions. Finally, we will need to educate the stakeholders on how technology is impacting their business, engage them in imagining the possibilities of healthcare technology, and make them strong digital advocates by bringing them along the innovation journey.

Sources:

  1. Evers M, Ghatak A, Holt E, Ostojic I, Pradel C, Suresh B, et al. McKinsey & Company. A vision for Medical Affairs in 2025. Available at https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/a-vision-for-medical-affairs-in-2025
  2. Kinapse. Medical Affairs 2025. Available at https://kinapse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Kinapse-white-paper-Medical-Affairs-2025.pdf
  3. Driving the next change of Digital Innovation for medical Affairs. Mary Alice Dwye and Shaji Kalathil. Available at https://www.medicalaffairs.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Digital-Wave_Fireside-Chat_Elevate_121219_download.pdf
  4. Kaka N, Madgavkar A, Kshirsagar A, Gupta R,Manyika J, Bahl, et al. KMcKinsey Global Institute. Digital India: technology to transform a connected nation. Available at
  5. Keesara S, Jonas A, Schulman K. Covid-19 and health care’s digital revolution. New England Journal of Medicine. 2020 Apr 2. Available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2005835

6.Telemedicine Practice Guidelines. MCI in partnership with NIYI Aayog. Available at https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Telemedicine.pdf

  1. Liberate healthcare technology. Available at https://alphamd.com/
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