Proper insights are the eyes and ears of the life science industry. Without them, or without the proper use of them, pharma companies are flying blind.

For the life science sector, an insight is a fundamental truth about customers that gives better understanding of the patient. They can come from various sources, be it healthcare professionals, payers, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), or patients themselves.

When used effectively, they can open new markets, accelerate product development, and strengthen relationships between patients and KOLs. But right now, they aren’t being used effectively. We call this the life sciences insight gap - when insights aren’t collected, shared, or utilised properly.

The ripple effect of this delay is costly, both in time and money. To date, fewer than 10% of drugs in development make it to market from phase I trials. On top of this, those drugs that do make it cost an average of $2bn to from conception to commercialisation.

Bottom line - the insights gap costs. Pharma companies can’t afford to work with the wrong KOLs, engage them in the wrong way, or process the data incorrectly. They need better insights. Here is how they can get them.

Select the right people

Who you talk to is important. For Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs), it’s the first hurdle, and the whole process can fall down here. Especially during the pandemic, when in person connection was limited, MSLs tend to stick to tried and tested relationships with the same small group of KOLs each time. Whilst valuable, engaging the same KOLs on a repeat basis limits the number of insights you can gain by narrowing the pool of voices.

MSL teams should adopt an insights-first approach, not a KOL-first one. Often, the most obvious stakeholder may not be the best one. For instance, the default assumption is often that HCPs who are on the frontline of treatment and prescribing are the most knowledgeable. However, for some areas, nurses or other health care providers may have the knowledge companies need to engage with.

Sometimes, the right opinion leader isn’t one that’s typically engaged at all. Young professionals, or people who are branching out into new areas are often overlooked but hold a strong level of influence over their peers.

By thinking with an insights-first approach, medical teams can avoid repetitive, out of date information and engage KOLs at the frontline of what they really need.

Connect for the 21st century

As many life science companies learnt during the pandemic, video conferencing isn’t the panacea they hoped. Digital fatigue contributed to more meetings, longer working hours and the tendency to drift from the task at hand all lowered the quality of insights.

With stakeholders located across the globe, organising a video call became a logistical nightmare. But are lengthy, one-to-one video calls the way forward? If gaining meaningful insights is essential to your business, then the answer is no.

But as many of pharma’s top 20 learnt over the last 18 months, the best insights are gained through over-time, asynchronous engagement.

KOLs are time-pressed, spread out globally, and often isolated by language barriers. Asynchronous engagement allows KOLs to be connected with on their terms, when they’re able to. Insights can be managed, shared and gathered in a timely manner, which often shortens the process whilst improving the quality of the results.

On top of this, factors that widen the insights gap, including poor attendance, lack of preparation and the tendency for dominant personalities to control the discussion can all be avoided. The result is a more efficient way of engaging KOLs that delivers a complete set of insights.

Discover actionable data, not raw insights

Successful insight gathering begins before any questions have been asked, and it continues long after they have been. Through targeted KOL selection and asynchronous connection, medical teams can gain a deep selection of insights, but what should they do with them?

Long transcripts and notes can be helpful, but they’re not what teams need to make decisions. Most life science teams are short of time, and often short of the capability to sift through mountains of data. Fortunately, there are multiple ways teams can get around this.

An executive summary of the insights can go a long way. In a timely manner, executive summaries don’t interrupt the next stage of the process but provide easy-access information that protects medical team’s time.

Additionally, tech-based solutions, such as data analysis software can help teams easily understand the result of their engagements. Solutions like this can remove personal opinion, guesswork and ambiguity from the situation and leave clear, actionable insights ready for decision making.

An integrated approach

The insights gap is holding the life science industry back. Identifying who to target, how to target them and what to do with the results are all critical elements in good decision making, and right now, life science companies are falling short.

At Within3, we know the importance of these insights in delivering drugs to patients. That’s why we’re working to fix this problem with our new Insights Management Platform. The platform, which combines Select, Connect, Discover under one roof, will allow companies to close the insights gap across the full development process. For too long, life science companies have had minimal help in fixing this problem, so we’re out to change that.

by Lance Hill, CEO, Within3