Because MSLs generally enter the profession to pursue the high-level scientific nature of these positions, many view the tracking
of MSL performance with market share as inappropriate or illegal. This perception has led to apprehension and suspicion of
tools traditionally linked with tracking sales force activities and performance, such as contact management databases. Medical
science liaisons may be wary of management using these tools to "count calls" and evaluate their performance on call frequency.
A Question of Semantics?
The metrics challenge may be less a question of how to measure value and more a matter of what "value" means to the organization.
According to the American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary, the definition of value ranges from the quantitative (calculated
numerical quantity) to the qualitative (quality considered worthwhile or desirable). Pharmaceutical executives may define
the value of MSLs from a quantitative standpoint, while MSLs define their own value from a qualitative standpoint. MSL directors
are often caught in the middle of juggling divergent propositions along the value spectrum. Getting agreement from internal
stakeholders about the definition of value and the value propositions of a MSL program is an important first step in formulating
meaningful performance metrics.
MSL directors then need to continually champion the role of medical science liaisons in their organizations, including the
MSL program's contribution to the company's long-term competitiveness and growth.
Jane Chin, PhD, is president of the Medical Science Liaison Institute. She can be reached at email@example.com