Medical Affairs Evolution

July 31, 2023
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Consultants from CRA’s Life Sciences Practice conducted a survey with n=50 leaders in Medical Affairs to learn from their perspectives on trends and challenges in the industry.

When asked which market factors are pushing their team to evolve, respondents ranked patient centricity, the increased consolidation of health systems as well as the rate and volume of information sharing across multiple channels as the strongest factors.


  • Ensure your strategy considers all stakeholders that Medical Affairs needs to interact with beyond HCPs and KOLs, particularly patients and patient organizations.
  • Train your team and install tools and processes to enhance communication channels and personalized content to best align with recipient’s needs.

When asked for the biggest challenges to the evolution of their team, respondents ranked highest the need for talent, compliance limitations, measuring and defining the impact of Medical Affairs, as well as leadership understanding Medical Affairs’ vision.


  • Increase focus on recruitment, training, and retention to have the right talent in the team.
  • Update compliance processes, automate, and possibly support them externally to cope with the increasing amount of information to be tailored and shared.
  • Have and communicate a clear strategy that is understood throughout the firm and senior leadership.
  • Establish patient outcome-based impact measures that are aligned with the strategy and used to showcase the value-add of Medical Affairs internally.

When asked for which metrics they track, most respondents stated that they currently track improvement in patient outcomes, number of potential clinical trial sites, increase in diagnosis rates, number of real-world evidence analyses, and patients on their products.


  • 50% of respondents stated that they are tracking 10 or more metrics – be very focused and aligned with the strategy when selecting metrics to track.
  • Respondents had mixed views on certain metrics being compliant or choosing not to track – analyze compliance limitations thoroughly to understand where the limits really are.
  • Lastly, patient outcome-related metrics are preferable (although the challenge remains of what exactly to track and how) compared to quantitative metrics like “number of analyses.”

When asked for which abilities are most relevant for field medical success, respondents ranked highest the ability to build long-term partnerships, generate insights from stakeholder interactions, and understand which channels each stakeholder prefers for communication.


  • Train medical teams on how to generate actionable insights vs. observations to ensure useful information from the market will be shared.
  • Innovations in natural language processing can also be used to catalogue and measure changes in insights over time.
  • The ability to build long-term partnerships was traditionally, and continues to be, a key ability of the field medical team, but to do so they will need to be able to understand their stakeholders’ preferences in terms of content and channel. This requires training as well as the appropriate tools to support interactions.
  • Increase the alignment and regular interactions with other functions to collaborate cross-functionally on field activities.