The Danger of Relentless Optimism

Hard to believe that it’s almost the end of the year. If you are like me and the teams I work with, then you still have an unbelievable amount of work to do before then. 

Today’s topics:

– Language, culture, communication
– Medical Affairs; Medical Information and Market Access
– It’s that time of year again – perception, reality and the end of the year review
– Gratitude and the Pandemic – insights from a survey in Medical Affairs/Medical Information

Language, Culture, Communication

Sometimes I worry about the relentless trend towards seeing the bright side of everything and closing our eyes in the face of the monsters under the bed. 

Why I worry about language? Firstly, because I feel that more and more frequently we obfuscate in the name of positivity. For example, we replace redundancy/illness/challenge/obstacle/problem/issue with opportunity. All this achieves is that the word opportunity loses its innocence. Imagine you are in a diabetic coma. The ER doctor writes “young patient with huge potential”. Helpful? No. But comparable. Remediation is only possible if we look at a situation dispassionately, assess options and then move on them. I’m not suggesting that we succumb to despair.  Rather that we call things as we see them. Waste less time finding a positive spin. And less time disparaging those who don’t present a positive spin as pessimists. That we are pragmatic. And focus more time on solution finding than on linguistic acrobatics. 

Medical Affairs; Medical Information and Market Access

A colleague of mine is a market access expert. Discussing value and pricing and negotiating with payers makes him happy. He told me that people often equate product reimbursement or sales with market access. When in fact a market is only truly accessed once a patient is prescribed AND uses a product. Companies monitor sales at Key Account level e.g., hospital or practice, and by region to measure product and sales team performance. This is a measure that has limits. It measures how the current product formulation/device is performing in the current market and current indications. What it doesn’t measure is whether that product could be doing better. And if so, why it isn’t. This is where knowledge from the Medical Teams, MSLs, Medical Information and Medical Directors should come in and should be routinely assessed. Provided you have harmonised databases and routine analytics in place across Medical Affairs, If not, I’m happy to discuss, how you can get there. 

    This is not using Medical Information to sell a product. It is using your data to improve a product to benefit patients. After all, if we believe products have medical value for patients, then ensuring that patients have access to them is in the interest of all stakeholders in a company. Commercial and medical.

    At a DIA conference, a Medical Information specialist shared the example of an insulin pen. Medical Information enquiry evaluations showed that patients with peripheral neuropathy had issues using the pen due to dial size. This feedback was used to improve the pen. The pen was tested with patient experts and was then relaunched in a new design. The presenter didn’t mention sales when she spoke, however, if a product is not fit for purpose, then it won’t find a market. 

It’s that time of year again – perception, reality and the end of the year review

End of the year review time again. Sadly, this translates to frustration by Gaussian distribution in many companies.  Often this is challenging for managers and employees. Could other approaches work? For example, could managers receive a discretionary budget to distribute, considering performance, their rating and key stakeholder ratings.  Ad interim, here are some tips for preparing for this year’s review.  

    Document your achievements. What went well? What could have gone better? Get feedback from key stakeholders and peers.  Remember no man is an island. Try to have realistic expectations. Know that most companies use a normal distribution approach in this situation. That there are often political and personal factors at play and that the die has generally been cast when you enter the meeting.  

    Try not to take things too personally. Remember, money is not everything and a performance rating does not reflect your value. Before the meeting, think about where you want your career to go. What training you’ll need. Ask your manager what they think your next step could be. Or what department you might fit in particularly well. Discuss concrete suggestions and agree on metrics and on courses you can take. If emotions run high, ask to have a follow-up conversation to discuss next steps. That said, if your rating is the result of a personal vendetta, then be friendly, be professional, and plan your next steps inside, or outside the company. Remember, you can choose to stay, or go.

Gratitude and the Pandemic – insights from a survey in Medical Affairs/Medical Information

In November 2020 I did a survey on working during the pandemic. Here are the answers to the question, what have you learned from this extreme experience for yourself and what are you grateful for?

“(It) Has taught me to reflect on my needs as well as the team to stay motivated as manager wellbeing will filter down as positive or negative but important to be real”

“See the opportunity to grow as a family and take yourself to the “next level”. Our kids became a little more mature and we decided to run a pilot without a nanny now…”

“You can indeed teach soft skills virtually”

“Clinical trials can be designed and approved in 1-2 weeks, if urgent”

In summary, you cannot look after others if you are not looking after yourself, assess realistically and adapt to the reality, and my favourite one; almost anything is possible when the situation demands it. 

If you are facing a complex challenge and would like a sounding board or you’d like some help to implement globally, contact me for a chat. 

Photo by Matt on Unsplash