Kaitlin Anstett, Senior Medical Advisor at Theratechnologies, sat down with me to share her unique insights into the way Medical Affairs teams are changing the way they are engaging and interacting with their most important stakeholders in the “new normal.” We also dived into topics related to patient-centricity and digital technologies in Pharma, including how these can be used to support HCPs and patients during this challenging time.
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: Let’s just step back to the pre-covid session. Most of us were doing everything in person. I call it IRL or “in real life”; meetings, advisory boards, everybody was flying to conferences, international meetings, clinical trial investigator meetings, and audits; everything was in person. Then we actually moved forward, and now we’re completely virtual. I was wondering if you can explain some of the platforms and ideas. As you know, this is one of the things that Impetus does. What was it like? What was that experience of now doing these, theoretically, an advisory board online and how is that going to look like? What does that mean, “by hybrid”?
A: Our team was actually working with asynchronous, online engagement with Impetus before the pandemic. So I felt that actually gave us a leg up. We did have to convince, depending on who the stakeholder was, if they were used to using technology and engaging that way or not. But, most did see the value in asynchronous engagement, because they can do it on their own time.
When you’re talking about traveling to conferences, an advisory board, or investigator meetings, whatever it is, that takes up so much time. As an MSL who was used to traveling, my days were filled with it. I learned how to do things on my phone, at an airport, in a hotel room, but that’s not the ideal way to be working necessarily all the time. Having had that experience and then just being able to bring those tools into a pandemic setting, where we were already familiar with it and the acceptance was there, we saw such a huge change in the readiness of all stakeholders to be able to engage digitally.
We felt a little bit like pioneers because we already knew how this worked. We were already experienced in doing things online, both asynchronously and live. That was really, I think, well received, because it fit into their schedule with the asynchronous. They could do it whenever they wanted. They didn’t have to disrupt their clinic or anything like that to be able to participate. Then, on live meetings, when you’re joining a Zoom, it’s just those two hours or however long it is. It’s not the travel time and getting there and eating a meal and time away from your family and your clinic.
I think as we move into this post-pandemic, this hybrid mode, I really hope we maintain that accessibility. It made these meetings and these engagements more equitable and more accessible, because there are people who don’t want to travel, aren’t able to travel that amount. If we have stakeholders, especially within infectious diseases, who might be immuno-compromised in this setting, they don’t want to travel. They maybe would prefer to be at home in a safer space for themselves. So, my hope is that we maintain this sort of accessibility and this equity.
Now you can travel to a conference again, but conferences are making things available virtually. So you can, instead of going to Frankfurt to attend a conference and disrupting your clinic for two weeks, or being away from your family for two weeks, you can attend virtually. Maybe not the same experience but a similar experience and the same access to the new information. I think that’s really important. We’re democratizing information and we’re making it more accessible.
What I hope for the post-crisis mode is that we maintain the hybrid engagement. We’ve all sort of had a crash course in IT (information technology) in a way and how to run virtual and hybrid meetings. It’s not perfect but we’re learning as we go and I am really hopeful that we have this greater acceptance of alternate modes of communication and alternate modes of engagement to make healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry a little bit more accessible for all of our stakeholders.
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Kaitlin Anstett, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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About Impetus Digital
Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.