Measuring Medical Science Liaison Team Contribution

ИзображениеMedical Science Liaisons (MSLs) are immersed in the generation of intangible value for internal and external stakeholders. Industry’s MSL teams are facing the same generic challenge – how to measure the value of ideas and insights, and how to subsequently track the team’s unique contribution to a remote outcome.

Measuring strategies may vary from company to company, but most MSL teams use a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics when communicating value to internal stakeholders. This combination was born of perceptual and practical considerations: MSLs often perceived strictly quantitative metrics as sales based function (and therefore inappropriate from a compliance standpoint); on the other hand, company executives often perceive strictly qualitative metrics as insufficient from a business justification standpoint. Since MSL team value is not easily shown through quantitative metrics such as number of visits, frequency of client contacts, or numbers of presentations, etc, medical liaison organizations have to think creatively to be able to show their value. However 48% of surveyed pharma respondents say they see a lack of quantitative metrics in MSL teams.

Analyzing key contributions of MSL team will help to understand the measurements needed to reflect that contribution. A metric appropriate to MSL involvement in Phase I to Phase III of product development is a summary of clinical study site recommendations coming from MSL that is eventually accepted by the Clinical Research for participation in clinical trials.

Since one of the MSLs’ contributions during this stage of product development includes scientific exchange (a dialogue with medical society), the quality and outcome of this scientific exchange can be useful as a metric. A satisfaction survey of thought leaders who interact with the MSLs can provide information on the quality of scientific exchange from the company’s MSLs. Parameters of such a satisfaction survey may include the completeness of response given by MSLs, timeliness of response, and thought leader’s perception of the quality of interaction.The company’s objectives in establishing such exchange, including increasing awareness of company presence within a therapeutic area, may also be developed into ‘thought leader awareness’ surveys. In order to measure satisfaction of internal stakeholders the same approach of satisfaction survey might be utilized.

For MSLs involved in IIS programs, metrics generally focus on quality of submitted proposals and alignment of submitted proposals to a product development strategy. The quality and quantity of portfolio activities can serve as metrics by describing effectiveness and productivity of the MSL team. Companies may, however, focus on only quantitative metrics, by just ‘counting activities’. When MSLs are given a role in field-based responses to unsolicited medical queries that can include off-label uses, forcing use of simple number of requests as a metric may encourage solicited requests by MSLs who need to reach their expected volume.

Value metrics and volume metrics of MSL performance may play different roles for MSL managers. While value metrics are aimed mostly on internal stakeholders and demonstration of reached outcomes of activities, volume metrics that show MSL contribution may be utilized internally by Medical Affairs for tactical and corrective decisions. Among volume metrics most often are mentioned such as number of IIS proposals submitted, number of publications authored, number of MSL promotional speeches, direct contribution to company research, internal customer feedback, advisory boards supported, number of scientific speeches by MSL, number of speakers trained, etc.

Metrics for MSL teams across the product development spectrum 



1.Christopher M. Marrone, J. Lynn Bass and Craig Klinger. Survey of Medical Liaison Practices No. 2: Assessing Training Techniques and Demonstrating Value of Medical Liaisons. Drug Information Journal 2008 42: 67
2. The New MSL Profile Internal Thought Leader, External Voice and Clinical Catalyst.
3. Roles, Resourcing and Management of Medical Science Liaisons. Best Practices, LLC Benchmarking Report.

Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev


  1. Michael W Rossi

    The issue of valuation of the MSL position is purely internal. The Company must set expectations predicated on strategic not tactical objectives. The nature of an MSL’s interaction with the medical community,requires that it be held at arms length from the sales objective. To do otherwise is to devalue the position and lose a valuable conduit for infomation. The problem in most cases is that Medical Affairs is housed (or financed) in the Sales organization. Sales is still dominated by the Reach and Frequency heuristic.

    • Alexander Tolmachev

      Thank you for your comment, Michael. In big Pharma companies Medical Affairs are budgeted and managed separately from business. Even in many cases when local P&L budget is joint, Medical Affairs management is still individual. Your example about housing/financing in Sales is interesting – what are these companies?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s