2021 in review: 12 months of co-creating meaningful impact with Medical Affairs

2021 has been the first year the pandemic has dominated our lives from day one. A year of hope brought about by record-breaking fast vaccine development – allowing sporadic times of normalcy. A year still characterized by office and virtual working. Yet a year of great Vintura impact in co-creation with our trusted clients. We want to take a moment to celebrate these successes and share our learnings in Medical Affairs.

Why Vintura & Medical Affairs? Shared purpose, complementary skills

Vintura’s mission is to “Creating meaningful impact in healthcare, together”. This is because we see that healthcare systems are fragmented and under growing pressure and, although health needs are infinite, resources are finite. The systems need to be redesigned to ensure quality, solidarity and sustainability of care. We are convinced this can only be achieved by patient-centric collaboration between all stakeholders, from life sciences companies to policy makers and from hospitals to payers. So our mission centres around connecting all stakeholders of the healthcare system and our clients to create and implement sustainable and meaningful improvements.

Our mission and vision align with the purpose of Medical Affairs and their future role. Medical Affairs activities are grounded in science and are all focused on improving care for patients. In addition, Medical Affairs is uniquely positioned as a fact-based, unbiased & trusted partner connecting healthcare stakeholders around patient value. Medical Affairs departments and Vintura work towards the same goals guides by similar values with synergistic skills and capabilities. Our 2021 work with Medical Affairs leaders proved this once again.

Our mission and vision align with the purpose of Medical Affairs and their future role.

What challenges did Leaders face? Refocusing strategy and reinventing engagement

2021 was a dynamic year for Medical Affairs leaders. More and more, organizations are realizing the critical importance of the Medical Affairs function, positioning them as the third strategic pillar next to commercial and clinical. At the same time, they are also realizing that this requires a more strategic, proactive, externally focused, but also competitive role of Medical Affairs. This is a challenging task on its own, even more so amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fueled by these trends, we identified five key themes faced by Medical Affairs leaders in 2021:

  • Functional strategy in response to a new future
    What does the fit-for-future Medical Affairs function look like, and how do we get there?
  • Engagement in the new (hybrid) normal
    How to maintain meaningful digital interactions with customers, amidst all the noise?
  • Real-World Evidence generation for patient access and competitiveness
    How to pre-empt and collect meaningful post clinical evidence to support brand success?
  • Evolving Medical Value proposition and external collaboration
    How do we, compliantly, expand our role in external partnerships to improve patient outcomes?
  • Mindset, People and capabilities for future success
    What skills and capabilities do we need to attract and develop to successfully deliver on the all of above?

We helped Medical Affairs leaders in 2021 to address these themes in their organization.

How did we contribute? 2021 flagship projects and activities

We worked on  many assignments  that focused on  or were related to Medical Affairs in 2021. In the box on this page, we highlight and celebrate four  cases from 2021 that we are especially proud of– they all link to one or more of the themes described above (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Four cases from 2021 that we are especially proud of, they all link to one or more of the themes described above

1) Medical Affairs Strategic roadmap

Situation and challenge: After an extended period of leadership churn in the Medical Affairs function of a top 3 global pharma company, the eventual new leader needed to develop a concrete strategic plan to galvanize senior leaders and reset. They sought Vintura’s help to co-create a 2023 Strategic Roadmap that would be endorsed by senior MedAff leadership and drive real change.

Our solution and impact: Via several highly interactive workshops, we co-developed the Roadmap with the MedAff leadership team. We created a ‘consensually challenging’ environment in which the various strong opinions of the team were evoked and brought together, ensuring more meaningful dialogue. This resulted in strong mutual trust amongst the leaders, a robust and well-received Strategic Roadmap, and strong positioning of the new MedAff leadership.

2) Cross-functional portfolio strategy

Situation and challenge: Our client, a top 3 global pharma company, was at a crossroads. Their main brand was nearing LOE and they were building a new product portfolio in another, single, disease area to mitigate LOE implications. As resources were very limited, they asked Vintura to define and implement a cross-functional portfolio communication strategy.

Our solution and impact: We helped our client by co-creating a patient-centric and cross-functional portfolio narrative. We embedded this in Medical, Commercial, Market Access, Patient Advocacy, and Corporate Communications – aligning external engagement, maximizing impact for patients, and maximizing internal efficiency.

3) Medical Engagement portfolio optimization

Situation and challenge: After developing a new 5-year ambition, the Global Medical Affairs (GMA) of a major international pharma company wanted to evaluate their current Medical Affairs event portfolio. They asked us to assess if the current Medical Affairs education event portfolio matched with both internal and external education needs

Our solution and impact: We took a three-part approach. We undertook comprehensive internal and external research to understand educational needs, then segmented the current event portfolio, and then mapped the two onto each other. This revealed gaps in education portfolio, which were prioritized according to strategic plans. The result was an overhauled and modernized portfolio that better catered for external needs and enabled an overall stronger interaction between GMA and the Medical brand teams.

4) Medical Engagement ladder

Situation and challenge: A global biotech leader observed that their JAPAC field Medical teams were not effectively addressing stakeholders needs, despite recent development of a scientific ladder. They asked Vintura to investigate the cause and rectify the situation.

Our solution and impact: We discovered that the preliminary framework for the scientific ladder was not ‘fit for purpose’, so we corrected it. We also co-created with local field teams a playbook that explained key components of the ladder and how to utilize it to better plan external engagements and develop stakeholder-centric solutions. The process empowered field teams to contribute to improving patient outcomes, and created local champions for the medical strategy.

Our NPS in Medical Affairs in 2021 was 9,2 , indicating that our clients value what we deliver and how we work. One quote we are especially proud of exactly describes what we find important: “Vintura is a be-spoke consulting company that really tailors its approach based on the company need and build the deliverable based on the team dynamic”. We strive to develop tailored solutions for real impact.

In addition to our projects, 2021 featured the initial two meetings of our Medical Affairs Expert Group. In this group, we bring together Senior Medical Affairs leaders across the industry to connect and discuss critical topics in Medical Affairs. We truly believe in the power of collaboration and co-creation, in this case, 1+1=3! Therefore we will continue to bring together these experts to share learnings and further transform the Medical Affairs function into its full potential. More to come in 2022!

What is next? Further focus on collaboration: we are in this together!

We are excited for what 2022 brings and will continue to  combine our knowledge with that of our clients to arrive at solutions with real impact. We believe our work with other functions (Market Access and Commercial) will help us continue to bring together stakeholders in pharmaceutical organizations and bring about lasting change.

Our bold prediction for 2022 is that Medical Affairs will move away from ‘functional’ Transformation towards being part of Pharma ’holistic’ Transformation, focusing on the whole rather than pieces of the puzzle. More to come on this in 2022!

I enjoy working in a team and I am convinced that you will always achieve a better end result by being critical and challenging each other’s ideas.