Charting MSL Activity & Performance 2018

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Publication Date:
July 2018
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Benchmark your MSL practice and performance against the industry's best!

The critical Medical Science Liaison (MSL) function is being stretched as the need to meet the demands of KOLs, HCPs, patients and payers grows. How are MSLs best used? In which areas do they deliver the greatest impact? What techniques and metrics are used to evaluate their success?

Charting MSL Activity and Performance 2018 is a comprehensive survey of 100 MSL professionals in the US and Western Europe, which reveals the changing face of MSL activity and the key engagement and performance strategies that are being employed today.

MSL professionals answer key questions

  • At what drug development stage is a MSL team established and how many brands do they typically handle?
  • How do MSL performance measurement criteria change pre- to post-launch?
  • Is the amount of engagement time with KOLs and physicians expected to rise, fall or stay the same?
  • To what extent are MSLs engaged with patient advocacy groups and is this likely to change in the future?
  • Face-to-face? Telephone? Email? How do MSLs communicate with KOLs and physicians and how might this alter in the coming years?
  • What performance measurements are used to demonstrate value to internal stakeholders?
  • What MSL performance criteria do MSLs see as becoming increasingly important over the near term?

Informed by leading companies

Examples of companies that participated in this study…


With this survey you will able to...

  • Understand which MSL activities are seen as being most important in the US and Europe
  • Benchmark your own MSL operations and identify new ways to improve performance
  • Evaluate how pre- and post-launch MSL responsibilities change
  • Learn of MSL attitudes in relation to patient advocacy groups, MSL team creation, training and KOL/physician engagement
  • Know which communication channels are shaping the MSL/KOL conversation
  • Identify the most widely used measurements for evaluating MSL-KOL engagement and feedback
  • Identify which performance metrics are favoured for demonstrating value to internal stakeholders

Insights from the Survey

  • Both US and Western European MSLs spend around half their time in face-to-face meetings with KOLs and other physicians as opposed to other forms of interaction such as telephone, email or live online chat. The proportion of time spent meeting face-to-face is expected to decrease slightly over the next two years as the use of text and online chat rises.
  • Relatively few MSLs engage with patient groups (26 percent US versus 28 percent Western Europe) and this is not expected to change much over the next two years.
  • MSLs agree that qualitative measures such as "medical insights", "feedback from KOLs" and "depth and quality of relationships with KOLs" will become increasingly important measures of performance in the future. In Western Europe the "number of scientific/educational presentations", either delivered by MSLs to external stakeholders or delivered by KOLs and organised by MSLs, will increase in importance, whereas no change is expected in the US.
  • While quantitative measures are commonly used to evaluate MSLs in both the US and Western Europe, the top two performance measures are both qualitative, although they differ geographically. In the US, the top measurement is "observation and feedback from managers/directors", while in Western Europe it's "perception and feedback from internal stakeholders".

About the Survey

  • Interview methodology: Data collected via a 25-minute internet-based questionnaire
  • Survey conducted: April/May 2018
  • Screening criteria: Respondents were screened to ensure that they are MSLs or MSL managers/directors and their company has at least one company-employed MSL
  • Sample distribution: A total of 100 US/Western European-based MSLs and MSL managers who work for pharmaceutical companies
  • Data report: Access to unique data and analysis presented in clear, concise and easy to read charts and tables with expert views on key findings