Advisory boards offer pharmaceutical companies a wide range of advantages, including guidance on clinical development and trial protocols, marketing campaign assessments, and improved chances for product reimbursement. Successful Ad Boards create actionable deliverables and provide incalculable value via the relationships with medical professionals. Pharmaceutical Advisory boards can cost companies anywhere between $1,500 and $150,000 with influence of variety of factors, including location, size, logistics, length of meeting, venue costs, third-party management fees, and – to participants. Tighter budgets and regulatory restrictions increasingly influence advisory board organizers to do less for more. Reducing costs without compromising meeting quality is essential, as poorly planned advisory boards may fail to provide companies with fully developed opinions and valuable recommendations. It is reasonable to assume that there is a number of features common to valuable Ad Boards. Let’s distill them to clear actions required to make an excellent Ad Board.
1. Set up a clear purpose based on real needs of medical community.
Investigate the professional needs of the physicians in your therapeutic area. Looking into participants needs and motivations will provide mutual beneficial experiences. Develop a bright agenda and put a meeting goal into a header of the handouts as it should be very clear for the advisors why they are here.
2. Invite right experts.
Recruit a representative group of advisors that captures the spectrum of opinions of your brand. This doesn’t mean that the board will necessarily consist of only brand supporters, it some cases the best opportunities happen when you manage to get insights from collision of opinions. Understanding why physicians are non-supporters is vital in determining what is required to convert them to brand advocates.
3. Strive for expert synergy, not a conflict.
Use your emotional intelligence in participant selection and keep in mind that an outstanding project may turn disaster when antagonistic advisors are comming together. Instead carefully select experts according to their mutual needs and personal sympathy.
4. Have a great meeting moderator.
One of the keys to achieving a valuable outcome is a moderator that keeps the group on task and moves discussion forward so that the meeting doesn’t get bogged down. It’s a ‘make or break’ of your Ad Board. Having a respected and steady chairperson alters the dynamic of discussions and increases the chances that the end result of the meeting will be an effective and actionable finding.
5. Make sure that moderator is aware of your expectations.
Ensure that the moderator is on the same page with you. Brief the moderator about what you expect as the end result. The best case is to prepare the agenda together with the moderator considering her/his needs and interests. Leave a lot of freedom for her/him in the workflow of the meeting. Ask for advice and keep promises.
6. Incorporate adult learning principles to shape the program.
Reliance on didactic presentations fails to work due to the diversity of learning and group discussion styles. Try to engage different perception channels and prepare handouts with relevant data, slides or videos.
7. Challenge participants to invest in the result and do their homework. The best approach is to meet all the participants personally and ask for their expert contribution at the meeting. You will have to specify what do you expect from them in the end and ask to do some preparation.
8. Ensure that meeting results are converted to action steps. As well as there is a responsible who will follow up with the advisors. I case it’s not you, make sure to have her/him at the meeting. Keep in mind that having the next steps is the real purpose of the meeting and you can never ignore this part.
9. Communicate the outcome of the meeting internally. Make sure your internal stakeholders (marketing, sales) are aware of the meeting agenda, the participants, the next steps and the follow up responsible.
Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev