RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - June 10, 2010) -  Biopharmaceutical companies often struggle to measure the performance of their medical science liaisons (MSLs), reports business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information ( MSLs' work, which focuses on relationships with doctors and clinicians, proves inherently challenging to measure with hard metrics.

So how does a company set goals for MSLs -- and measure performance against those goals? Some organizations rely on organic measurement, which provides a qualitative solution to a qualitative problem.

"Some of the programs we have studied allow the MSLs to evaluate their progress in building KOL relationships," said Yanis Saradjian, Director of Consulting at Cutting Edge Information. "These companies often hire veteran MSLs who know from experience how to measure relationship-building along a progression."

Other companies, however, focus on metrics. Since quantitative measures can never adequately represent MSLs' effectiveness at building KOL connections, companies construct systems of milestones to track the progress of thought leader relationships.

"Even the best MSLs cannot always 'just know' what to do in every circumstance, especially with no training or plan to follow," said Saradjian.

Given the complexities surrounding KOL relationship management, one company benchmarked by Cutting Edge Information incorporates a set of steps into its MSL training program for new hires. Within a 90-day training program, the company assesses MSLs' command of relationship-building steps and goals at 30 days, 60 days, and upon completing their training. 

Another company's MSL team established a formal set of guidelines that tracks relationship-building progression in levels.

At the first level, MSLs and KOLs get to know each other. KOLs move to the second level when they have started to show interest in the company's activities, such as participating in clinical trials and writing articles. Higher levels await as the relationship evolves and a KOL's frequency of activity with the company increases.

Cutting Edge Information's latest medical affairs study, "The New MSL Profile," ( was developed with data from 50 Life Sciences companies. It was created for companies looking to prioritize MSL objectives and bolster team performance.

For more information on this topic and related issues, visit the company's Medical Affairs library at

Contact Information:

Stephanie Swanson