2017 MSLA Annual Conference – Report

On Thursday 18th March 2017, we hosted our Annual Conference at a new and improved venue of the Birmingham Hilton Metropole. You can see pictures from this event here.

The first thing to say is that this was a record breaking conference and for the first time was preceded by the MSLA Networking Event. The conference attracted a record number of delegates, 137 in total (excluding our expert panel of speakers), which was an incredible example of the growing strength and depth of MSLA awareness and the perceived value of our Annual Conference. Delegates represented 42 different pharma/biotech companies and 16% were aspiring MSLs, 63% were MSLs and 10% were MSL manager/leads responsible for MSL strategy. The remaining 11% of delegates were representatives of various consultancy companies (e.g. recruitment, service providers, training etc.) closely associated with the MSL role. One observation of the MSLA committee, which was also echoed by delegate feedback, was that more MSL managers/leads should attend the conference as they could provide significant input into the sessions, particularly those sessions focusing on MSL governance and compliance. If you agree with this sentiment, please do share this summary and details of the MSLA with MSL managers in your organisations.

Based on delegate feedback from previous years that there was not sufficient time during the Annual Conference to network and catch up with colleagues, this year the MSLA hosted a free MSLA Networking Event the evening before Conference. An incredible 61 colleagues attended and took part in the MSLA networking bingo game, which was eventually won by Rainy Marsh who, for her efforts, collected a voucher to cover registration costs for an MSLA organised event.

We opened the record breaking 2017 Annual Conference with an exceptional and thought provoking key note presentation by Professor Sir Muir Gray, Director of Better Value Healthcare titled ‘The Third Healthcare Revolution’. Prof Sir Gray made the session very interactive, picking on audience members throughout and covered the following key topics: Problems and Challenges of 21st Century Healthcare; Why these problems and challenges are relevant to Pharma / Biotech; Introduction to Triple Value Healthcare; Why Triple Value Healthcare is relevant to Pharma / Biotech. Based on delegate feedback forms (of which an impressive 91 delegates completed) 99% of delegates said that the quality of the session was either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5, and 85% said the same in terms of relevance and usefulness to MSL role. The MSLA take delegate feedback very seriously and a number of you commented that the slides presented did not match those provided in your handouts. We apologise for the error and to hopefully make up for it we have attached to this e-mail the slides that were presented (This can be found here)

Prof Sir Gray was then followed by Dr Shahid Hanif, Head of Health Data and Outcomes, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), whose talk was titled ‘Improving patient Outcomes through Health Data’ and focused on four key themes: Outcomes-focused healthcare; The importance of health data in healthcare; Value of health data in the pharmaceutical industry; ABPI and industry activities on health data and outcomes. This was a an intriguing introduction to the complexities of health data and a window into the world of how the ABPI are innovating and leading the way in this field to develop frameworks to support and facilitate capture and interpretation of ‘big data’ for their pharma/biotech company members.   This is definitely a hot topic across the industry and a clear area that MSLs will play a pivot role in moving forwards as the bridge between HCPs and health care systems and medical affairs and R&D functions.

After lunch, Dr Rina Newton, Managing Director of CompliMed Ltd, back by incredibly popular demand, took the stage for a third year running to lead a two-hour interactive MSL code hot topic session. The quality of the discussion on case studies, with pre- and post- discussing voting to track changes in understanding and position was exceptional and 45% of delegates rated it the best aspect of the whole conference. Furthermore, 85% and 91% delegates rating the session 5 out of 5 or ‘excellent’ in terms ‘quality of the session’ and ‘relevance and usefulness to MSL role’ respectively.  Dr Newton's session can be found here and is a summary to serve as an aide memoire for conference delegates

The final expert speaker of the conference was Rosie Bailey, Co-Founder & Principal Consultant of OnTrack International. Rosie delivered an excellent, up-beat and entertaining conference closing presentation titled ‘Presenting with Impact in the Medical World’ taking delegates on a 10-stop whistle-stop tour of impactful presentation, from initial impressions, through handling distractions, visual aids, practice vs preparation and the close. Presenting either 1:1 or to groups his is such an critical component of the MSL role, and again this topic really resonated with delegates, again receiving scores above 90% for both ‘quality of the session’ and ‘relevance and usefulness to MSL role’.

In order the continually improve the MSLA offering to our membership, as mentioned above we asked delegates to complete feedback forms and pleasingly 66% did so (91 of 137). 100% of delegates rated the overall organisation of the Annual Conference 4 (very good; 16%) or 5 (excellent; 84%) out of 5 and 96% rated the overall education experience 4 (very good; 45%) or 5 (excellent; 51%) out of 5. We also took the delegate feedback one step further this year and asked you the simple question: On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend the MSLA Annual Conference to a friend or colleague? This is a classical Net Promotor Score (NPS) question, which is a tool used worldwide to gauge the loyalty of company/association customer relationship. The figure below (D stands for Detractor; N for neutral; P for Promotors) shows the NPS results for this question, and as you can see the MSLA Annual Conference has a NPS of 71 which is right up there with many large multinational organisations. We are very proud of this and incredibly grateful for your ongoing support of the MSLA.

So to close this short summary, the MSLA Committee are thrilled at both the record breaking attendance of the 2017 Annual Conference and the very positive delegate feedback. With a new venue and the new Networking Event evening we managed to address some of the issues highlighted from previous annual conferences such like venue location, parking, lunch directions, size of the room, networking time, speed and limited number of coffee machines. Again this year we received some very constructive feedback and suggestions both at the Networking Event evening and through your delegate feedback forms. We commit to review these and strive to find ways to improve further for subsequent years.

As alluded to at Conference, the MSLA committee are already pushing ahead with the 2017 'How To...' programme, the first if which, ‘MSLs and the Code’ by Dr Nick Broughton, will take place on Thursday 18th May at the ABPI offices in central London and already is over 65% subscribed. We are also actively moving forward with the launch of the MSLA Journal, whose first issue will include a more comprehensive summary of the 2017 MSLA Annual Conference. Look out for future communications from the MSLA on these exciting events.

Thank You for your continued support as the MSLA strive to provide a common platform in the UK and Ireland to drive compliance, value, credibility and sustainability of the MSL role.


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