MSLA Conference 2018 Report

2018 MSLA Annual Conference – Report

On 21st and 22nd March we hosted our 2018 Annual Conference at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, attended by 122 delegates. This is a great example of the enduring strength and depth of MSLA awareness and the perceived value of our Annual Conference. Delegates represented 42 different pharma/biotech companies and 15% were aspiring MSLs, 57% were MSLs, 16% were MSL manager/leads responsible for MSL strategy and 4% were other pharma company employees. The remaining 9% 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.

To build on the great success of the 2017 MSLA Networking event on the eve of the Annual Conference, this year the MSLA took this to the next level by running an interaction workshop led by Helen Kane of Pivot MSL focusing on demonstrating value of the MSL role. An incredible 71 delegates attended this session with 90% of delegates rating it either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 89% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. The outputs of the workshop are currently being analysed and will be written up as a referenceable article in a future issue of the MSLA Journal. Look out for further information. In the meantime, photos from the network evening can be found here.

We opened the record breaking 2018 Annual Conference with an exceptional and thought-provoking key note presentation by Prof Krish Nirantharakumar (Prof of Biostatistics at Birmingham) titled ‘The BIG Question around BIG Data – Beyond Phase III’. Prof Nirantharakumar focused on key topics such as big data in pharmaco-epidemiological studies, the need for alternative approaches to Randomised Controlled Studies (RCT) and how his research team are addressing the challenges in utilising large routinely collected data sources for epidemiological studies. Whilst the focus was largely on primary care data, the principles discussed were very relevant to both primary and secondary/specialist care environments. Testament to the quality of the lecture, 92% of delegates rated this session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 70% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Photos from conference day can be found here.

Prof Allan Hackshaw (Prof of Epidemiology & Medical Statistics at University College London) followed, back by popular demand to deliver a ‘tour de force’ Deep dive into Statistics, with a laser focus on sub group analyses. This topic resulted from specific feedback from the last ‘How to’ session in 2017 and will focus on deep diving into sub-group analyses, an important topic pharma and MSLs and we look forward to more ‘lightbulb’ moments today.  Prof Hackshaw lived up to expectations and audience feedback was incredible with 100% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Notably 85% rated the session as 5 (excellent) out of 5 in both measures. Exceptional!! This delegates feedback says it all: ‘Wow! Great speaker, broke it down into simple, understandable chunks’. The MSLA will continue to work with Prof Hackshaw during 2018 and will be running a 1-day ‘How To’ at Hilton Metropole Birmingham on 22nd November 2018. Look out for further communications.

After a networking lunch, Richard Newman from BodyTalk UK delivered a fantastic, up-beat and practical workshop focusing on impact and influence.  Richard is very familiar with the MSL role and has a good understanding of the demands of the role and the challenges as we operate in a commercial environment whilst maintaining medical integrity.  There has never been such an important time when the MSLs need to stand up for our function and show value both internally and externally. The workshop gave delegates practical tools to improve impact and influence as well as food for thought regarding your own personal development.  Richard carried on the great conference with 97% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 96% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Notably 82% rated the session as 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 73% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Richard provided weblinks to very useful resources to all delegates at the close of the meeting to support with learning pull through.

The final guest speaker of the day was Dr Rina Newton, Managing Director of CompliMed Ltd. Back by incredibly popular demand, took the stage for a fourth year running to lead a 45min interactive MSL code hot topic session. Rina focus on core PMCPA cases involving MSLs (and alike) and then worked through 2 thought provoking scenarios to build on the principles of the cases. Again delegates feedback was exceptional, with 99% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 100% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Notably 79% rated the session as 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 96% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. On reflection, 45mins was too short for this session and the MSLA will be working with Rina to develop a broader and ongoing educational platform for code-related learning, aligned with our mission to “To provide a common platform in the UK and Ireland to drive compliance, value, credibility and sustainability of the MSL role”.

The final session of the 2018 Conference was delivered by our very own MSLA Committee member Melanie Sibson titled ‘Future proofing the MSL role’.  The session reported back on the results from a survey which was sent out to all members of the MSLA, in February 2018, asking about the evolution and career development of the MSL role.  38 people responded to the survey and the results gave some interesting insights into the current role and the potential changes in the future.  The session also included insights from two MSLA members: Sharon Hodgkiss – Senior RML from Amgen and Dominic Lawrence – International Scientific Advisor from Allergen.  They mapped out their own career pathways to date.  Finally, the session concluded with a call to action for every member of the MSLA to support the evolution of the MSL role.  The areas of focus were: more How to…workshops and development of a consensus or excellence framework for MSLs.  Watch out for more information around these areas and let the committee know if you would like to get involved.   82% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 79% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role.

To continually improve the MSLA offering to our membership, we asked delegates to complete feedback forms and pleasingly 62% did so (75 of 121). 100% of delegates rated the overall organisation of the annual conference as very good (34%) or excellent (66%). Furthermore 96% rated the overall educational experience as very good (33%) or excellent (67%). We also asked delegates the following 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, used worldwide to gauge loyalty. The figure below (D stands for Detractor; N for neutral; P for Promotors) shows the NPS results, and as you can see the MSLA Annual Conference has a NPS of 73 which is right up there with many large multinational organisations and a 2-point increase vs the 2017 result (71). The goal of the MSLA Committee through 2018 and beyond is to continually improve this score by delivering greater value to you our amazing membership.  We are very proud of this and incredibly grateful for your ongoing support of the MSLA.

Again this year we received some very constructive feedback and suggestions both at the conference and through your delegate feedback forms. We commit to review these and strive to find ways to improve further for subsequent years.

The MSLA Journal has been mooted for a long time; the 2018 Annual Conference saw its launch with Issue 1 being disseminated online and email during the ‘Journal session’. A flurry of automated text messages sounded the launch. The journal will be the voice of its membership. Whilst we have the capacity to commission content: genuine articles from membership will remain out staple offering. A real opportunity for the working MSL, Aspiring MSL, MSL manager and even directors to air their thoughts. We envisage three issues per year – all online with current issue only available to MSLA members. The facility to publish allows authors to cite their publication of course. There is ‘Front Cover Competition’ for each issue: the prize being your art-work on the cover as well as one free access to any MSLA function in a 12 month period! We are call for articles now for the Jun-Jul Issue as well as of course the cover-competition. As with the Association, the journal can only be a success if you subscribe to the notion of its usefulness to us as a body and to yourselves as members. Let’s make it the voice of MSLs in the UK & Ireland.

The MSLA have some exciting and ambitious plans for 2018 and beyond, including of course the MSLA Journal, webcasts, the new website and associated member resources, the ongoing ‘How To’ education seminar series, special interest groups, and a up-to-date social media presence. Look out for future communications from the MSLA on these exciting developments in due course.

Thanks 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.