Transactional Model of Communication

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"The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind."

–  Daniel Pink

An emerging healthcare-related field is something called a medical science liaison or MSL.  The MSL is an expert who has advanced scientific training in the medical field. MSL’s are not sales representatives, and their functions are very different.  The main purpose of the MSL role is to provide scientific data and establish relationships with doctors and Key Opinion Leaders or KOL’s.  T

MSLs were first established when Upjohn Pharmaceuticals saw the need for professionally-trained field staff that would be able to build rapport with people who prescribe their products.  Over the years, pharmaceutical companies have used various names for their roles, including Medical Liaison Officers, Medical Managers, Regional Scientific Mangers, Clinical Liaisons, and Scientific Affairs Managers.

Few people know what an MSL does, and little is written about it.  But it does not rule out an MSL’s significance as a bridge between the Medical Professionals and the non-medical Professionals in business.  Consider some of the roles of the MSL:

1.  Communicates highly scientific concepts while relating them to clinical objectives and business opportunities.

2.  Introduces and builds product and service awareness

3.  Speeds up the time in communicating the value of a product to key opinion leaders

4.  Initiates and maintains relationships with health care customers

As such, the following skills are essential for an MSL:

1.  Business skills.  An MSL must understand the inner workings of the business environment and the different metrics by which his performance will be measured.

2.  Creative skills.  Communicating with thought leaders and non-medical personnel, an MSL must be able to have confidence in his ability to pave the way towards goals that have never been ventured into.

3. Leadership Skills.  Competence and integrity are required to foster trust among an MSL’s clients.  Both are valued traits of a leader.

4.  Intellectual ability.  The credentials of an MSL must reflect a certain expertise.  Being a PhD or an MD is an essential competency.

5.  Communication Skills.  While intelligence is important, even more crucial for the MSL is the ability to deal with people.  This is not learned in school, but it must be developed by the MSL throughout his or her career.

Most hospitals may not be ready to add an MSL to their overhead costs.  However, with the increasing complexity of medical management, most marketing and sales professionals may not be equipped to fully explain the intricacies of the various machines and treatment modalities employed in a hospital.  MSLs can bridge this gap and create the kind of interaction between a hospital and its physicians that will be mutually profitable for  both the administration and its medical professionals.

It may be time for hospitals to learn this concept from the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.



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