A YouTube Approach

You brainstormed it, you planned it and you implemented it. Now you’re living the restructure, how can you show that it paid off?

I’ve no doubt that AstraZeneca put all manner of measures into place to show that a restructure of Medical Information (MI) delivered just what they had planned (with probably a few unexpected benefits too). However Richard Jones, Medical Information Manager, AZ UK used a different approach to engage the audience. Short video clips of customers, stakeholders and key players.

Think of it as Pharma meets YouTube.

Just before he joined AZ in 2007, MI was split into 2 teams; an external customer facing team and a team of Knowledge Advisors (KA). So what is the KA team role? In many respects they are the bridge between the customer contact team and the brand team.

They support the brand strategy by ensuring the Core Claims Documents are evidence based. Working with the document owners, the Therapeutic Area Specialists (TAS), they provide in-depth brand information from current literature and retrospective information searches. In their customer support role, they maintain the response documents.

As they are both product experts and information specialists, they also provide information for health technology assessments for bodies such as NICE and the Scottish equivalent, SMC. Lastly a key role is rep training.

Great start but what were the issues? Boundaries and differentiation.

At first glance, the TAS and KA role look very similar. Potential for confusion for the brand teams, rep and probably others. Time for role clarity!

Clarifying to the brand team and the reps who does what between the KAs and the TAS was critical. As well as their role with maintaining Core Claims Documents, the KAs bring the voice of the customer, professionals or patients, to the brand team. Through their product training and enquiry service, they help build sales rep competency and confidence when updating doctors or handling objections.

Richard talked about plans to develop the role further, e.g. working with advisory boards.

Unanswered questions remained. Were the KAs morphing into the TAS role? If so, how was the TAS role developing?

In large companies such as AZ, gsk, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, there are several options for splitting teams;

  • divide them into Therapeutic Area teams with broad responsibilities and multiple activities?
  • have different layers such as associate, executive, senior, team leader?
  • have sub-teams with specialist services per team (like customer contact teams and Medical Affairs managers)

The dilemma of any MI Manager is the best way to solve this problem so that it best delivers your goals, meets your teams needs and fits your strategy for the future. Each company ultimately adopts the approach that works best for them as we see all three variants in Medical Information.

So how did gsk and Pfizer plan to restructure to respond to the environmental drivers for change? Watch this blog for more details!