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5 Steps to Unlock MSL Success with Innovative Content Formats

As a Field Medical Director, your goal is to equip your team of MSLs with the training and materials they need to deepen their connections with the healthcare professionals (HCPs) and key opinion leaders (KOLs) they serve.

But what it means to do that well is changing.

Traditional, text-heavy presentation decks have long been the industry standard. Yet we now know they simply don’t promote the kind of engagement HCPs are looking for. In fact, 80% of HCPs report dissatisfaction with their interactions with Pharma company representatives. The reason? A lack of personalization in those encounters.

The answer lies in innovative, flexible content types that support MSLs in creating dynamic, customized interactions. But creating new and improved assets is only the first step. To maximize the potential of these powerful assets, you need to get MSLs on board. After all, if your team isn’t comfortable using the new formats — or, worse, doesn’t see the value in them in the first place — neither your healthcare organization nor your community of HCPs will benefit from the investment.

Successfully implementing innovative content formats is less about the format itself — and more about managing the human side of change. Here’s what you need to do to anticipate and reduce resistance, foster buy-in, and nurture a culture of adaptation

Manage Change to Drive MSL Success with Innovative Scientific Content

Your team of MSLs takes pride in their work. So you might assume that they would naturally welcome improved content assets with open arms.

Not so fast.

Take a step back and consider the situation from your MSLs’ perspective. They know their existing presentation decks backward and forward. They understand exactly how to use them to guide HCP and KOL interactions. On top of that, to do their jobs well, MSLs must move quickly and manage a perennially busy meeting schedule. By transforming your educational content formats, you’re asking your team to make significant changes to the way they work without losing momentum. Navigating change is challenging — and MSLs may feel particularly adrift if this change is abruptly dictated to them.

Change management principles help you bridge the gap between your team’s current comfort zone and the new content formats you need them to quickly embrace.

First and foremost, this means avoiding a top-down change that comes solely from leadership. By involving MSLs in the process of developing and implementing new content formats from the beginning, you can:

  • Earn early buy-in. When MSLs feel included in the content creation process, you pave the way for a resistance-free transition.
  • Create better, more effective content. With MSL involvement, you can pinpoint the unique challenges they face in the field and create content that specifically and effectively addresses those concerns.
  • Reduce the time needed to roll out new assets. If you wait until new content has already been developed before sharing it with MSLs, you’re likely to receive feedback that requires further rounds of revisions. In addition, training on new assets goes much more smoothly when MSLs are already partly familiar with the new content and formats.

5 Steps to Ensure MSL Adoption of New Content Formats

Ensuring MSLs embrace and adopt innovative new content formats is relatively straightforward. It just takes a little forethought and planning — as well as a commitment to basic change management principles. Take the following five steps, and you’ll be well on your way:

1. Explain the “why” behind the change.

Successful change management starts with good communication. Specifically, you need to create intentional and strategic internal communications that give your stakeholders an understanding of the “why” behind the change. Your messaging should include a combination of logic and inspiration while prioritizing the information that matters most to MSLs. Explain to your team why innovative content formats are essential for their own ongoing success. Be sure to emphasize how the new formats will improve their processes and outcomes in the long run.

2. Include senior MSLs in the content development process.

Select a small group of senior MSLs with the most experience to represent the team and provide input on the new content as it is developed. Ask them what questions they most commonly receive from HCPs, as well as which information elicits more or less engagement. Encourage them to poll other MSLs for input and socialize the idea of the new content formats before they’re ready to be rolled out.

3. Provide thorough training on the new scientific content formats.

Once the new content is created, map out a training curriculum for your MSLs. Remember that your team will almost certainly need to see and experience the new formats more than once before they are comfortable using them independently. Provide training in a variety of formats and channels to ensure you meet different kinds of learners where they are.

4. Give clear instructions and calls to action for adoption.

When it’s time to adopt the new content, give your MSLs a clear understanding of what is expected from them and when. Break the adoption process into prioritized steps and make sure your team knows what actions to take and in what order.

5. Create space for feedback, ongoing support and optimization.

Even with MSL participation in the development process, your team will almost certainly have a fresh wave of feedback and questions once they start using the new content in their interactions with HCPs and KOLs. Be prepared to offer ongoing support as your team gets used to working with the new formats. At the same time, make sure to create space for constructive feedback. Doing so ensures your team feels heard — and represents a valuable opportunity to further optimize your content.

Embracing Innovative Content Improves MSL and HCP Outcomes

Innovative content is key to empowering your team of MSLs to facilitate more dynamic and impactful interactions with HCPs and KOLs. But that only happens with full MSL support and adoption. By focusing as much on change management as you do on content development, you can be certain of a smooth and efficient transition.

Want to see the benefits of innovative scientific content in action? Learn how MedComms worked with Janssen to craft dynamic facilitated storytelling decks to drive HCP engagement.