The dialogue at the Medical Affairs Strategic Summit East conference highlighted the enthusiasm within Medical Affairs to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies to support a variety of areas including medical insight analysis, congress planning, social listening, integrated medical evidence generation, and trial recruitment, as well as continued advances in omnichannel communication.
Enhancing medical insight analysis through AI
The use of AI can enhance medical insight analysis. Machine learning and natural language processing are being employed to synthesize field medical voice of the customer data to identify insights and trends. Consistency in collecting training data for the AI/ML models is crucial for AI usability. Multiple strategies can be implemented for this including drop down menus; having clear categories to capture insights by strategic imperative, topics, or subtopics; documenting insights even if they redundant with existing knowledge; and the ability to tag a comment as positive or negative to enable sentiment analysis.
Sharing insights for pipeline assets while following compliance standards can be facilitated by AI filtering based on country. Currently humans are involved in reading, tagging, and analyzing the filtered insights. AI can reduce the time delay in this process.
Overall, AI technology offers significant potential in enhancing medical insight analysis, supporting decision-making, and reducing time to review.
Embracing technology to optimize and explore
In the coming years, technology will play a critical role in optimizing and exploring new possibilities within Medical Affairs. Applications of AI, social listening, omnichannel optimization, and trial recruitment are key areas of focus.
AI is being leveraged to analyze large datasets, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and claims data, to identify patterns and extract insights. Decision automation with AI, including adaptive next best action, is a potential new way to streamline processes.
Social listening, through platforms like Twitter, provides valuable insights for medical science liaisons (MSLs) to follow opinion leaders. AI can aid in analyzing social media data to understand physician attitudes and sentiments. Social listening can provide valuable insights during congresses, although it should be acknowledged that the insights may be biased due to the limited number of HCPs on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Transitioning to an omnichannel approach could begin with identifying 3-5 digital channels that align with the organization’s goals and can make a significant impact based on HCP engagement. Having cross-functional communication is important to understand what customers are experiencing from the overall organization. By selecting channels that are complementary to commercial, Medical Affairs can enhance their outreach efforts and optimize the customer experience.
Supporting trial recruitment involves addressing issues of trial concentration in certain regions, improving diversity and inclusion in clinical trials, and optimizing the speed at which trials can enroll. The future of digital innovation aims to ensure no patient is left behind by leveraging data, AI, and digital technologies to enable earlier diagnosis, precision medicine, improved clinical trial diversity and efficiency, and health equity. Partnerships and collaborations, such as with CureAI for early cancer patient identification, are helping to achieve these goals. Incorporating diversity in clinical trial sites, even if it requires extra effort, is essential for long-term success and equitable healthcare outcomes.
Areas to explore include generative AI, blockchain, Metaverse, and Web 3. Generative AI, such as GPT-4, can aid with developing plain language summaries and in congress planning by analyzing abstracts and providing highlights before the meeting, which helps isolate specific areas of interest. Metaverse can serve as an engagement platform for advisory board meetings and internal discussions but requires appropriate selection of advisors and guidance.
In the future, blockchain technology could be applied in Medical Affairs to support decentralized clinical trials. Patients would have ownership of their records and could share their data points securely for clinical trials, facilitating real-world evidence (RWE) generation. Web 3, which includes content ownership and exists in gaming, can provide a solution for sharing research data beyond traditional journals. It enables researchers to incorporate feedback from platforms like Twitter, combining peer review with public input. Web 3 offers the potential to integrate various components seamlessly.
Developing impactful integrated medical evidence plans
The importance of integrated medical evidence plans is significant. Non-excellent launches have 32% less RWE published than excellent launches. The value of an asset can be significantly less if Medical Affairs doesn’t establish a roadmap that considers all stakeholder evidence needs, sources of data generation, and the lifecycle timeline. Integrated medical evidence plans should be started as early as possible to de-risk regulatory pathway approvals, shape patient reported outcomes (PROs), and address key gaps and unmet needs prior to launch. AI analysis of real-world digital health data, including electronic medical records and wearables, can also support RWE generation and enable the identification of unmet needs in different patient segments.
Embracing the value of omnichannel communication
Omnichannel communication in Medical Affairs offers several benefits, including expanding reach beyond face-to-face interactions, tailoring content to medical topics defined by attitudinal segmentation, and leveraging various digital channels and formats. It focuses on user-centric experiences and personalization, allowing HCPs to engage through their preferred channels, formats, and time. Successful medical communication planning involves considering the right audience, content, channels, timing, and outcomes, e.g., what engagement data needs to be collected so more personalized content can be delivered. 81% of physicians are dissatisfied with biopharmaceutical companies’ communication due to a lack of personalized and relevant content. Biopharma tends to overestimate the value of traditional communication channels, e.g., MSLs, reps, and in person meetings and underestimate the value of digital channels. Implementing an omnichannel plan requires collaboration across cross-functional teams and is a continuous journey to optimize the customer experience with content and channel preferences. Metrics for measuring the impact of medical communications include quantitative measures like MSL activities and engagements, accepted publications and Altmetrics, formulary changes, and qualitative measures such as customer feedback, insights, sentiment analysis, and benchmarking. Impact can be measured through surveys, MSL insights, share of voice analysis, and tracking activities conducted by medical teams.
Where can Medical Affairs Leaders make a difference by incorporating AI?
AI is a rapidly evolving field, as tools continue to be built out and capabilities expanded, particularly with generative AI. Leaders in Medical Affairs can enhance performance by considering how AI can be used as a tool to solve problems, optimize results, and create efficiency. Areas to consider the application of AI include analyzing real world data, optimizing trial recruitment, creating congress plans and summaries, and medical insight analysis from field medical voice of the customer, advisory board summaries, medical information queries, and claims data. Determining the right AI technology depends on what problem is being solved. While there is more experience using machine learning and natural language processing, incorporating generative AI can be done with a cautious approach using enterprise models like GPT-4, piloting with easier use cases and building toward more complex scenarios. Expanding use cases through pilots and systematic validation of outcomes can increase the confidence in using AI, and in turn broaden the utilization.
- Keynote: Leverage Digital Innovation in Medical Affairs Patient Engagement. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 1, 2023.
- Panel: Avoid Internal Blind Spots Through Multi-Channel Engagement Efforts. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 1, 2023.
- Emerging Trends That Will Shape Medical Affairs Over the Coming Decade. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 1, 2023.
- How Medical Affairs Can Develop, Use, and Maintain Impactful Evidence Strategies. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 1, 2023.
- Utilize a Methodological Approach to Medical Communication Plan Development to Align with a Product’s Overarching Medical Strategy. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 2, 2023.
- Panel: Advance Medical Affairs with a Move from a Multichannel to Omnichannel Approach to Streamline Strategy Development. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 2, 2023.
- How to Enhance Medical Insight Analysis Through the Application of AI Technology. Medical Affairs Strategic Summit May 2, 2023.
- Understanding Medical Multichannel Engagement. MAPS Webinar. https://medicalaffairs.org/understanding-medical-multichannel-engagement/.