Originally posted by Jeremy Vannatta, Vice President of Business Development
So you need to engage your KOLs and need some feedback from them on some of your strategies, tactics and/or clinical trial design. You need an advisory board meeting. Getting ad boards off the ground is increasingly difficult with multiple meetings between you and your Office of Ethics and Compliance, Legal, Medical Affairs, Legal, etc. You answer their questions and jump through their hoops. The content may be a bit watered down, but it still makes sense to have the meeting.
Why consider a virtual ad board?
- KOL Rotation – You know who your KOLs are who want to travel to a live event and you know who your KOLs are who won’t. That group just won’t get out of their houses and come to a live ad board. However, they will likely attend a well-planned and executed meeting for a couple of hours if they can do it from home.
- Wider KOL Reach – you are going to see those KOLs you need to see. A virtual ad board allows you to connect with some of your Tier 1 KOLs, but really allows you to reach those Tier 2 and Tier 3 KOLs who might speak up even more if in a room with true peers. A wider group of HCPs to engage with you translates to broader diversity of thought. As your stable of advisors grows, consider what you could do with a series of regional ad boards where every advisor is from a similar geography.
- Technology – many specialties pride themselves on being up to speed with the cutting edge technology. At ExtendMed we know “technology” cuts both ways. What could be great and simple for us, might be hard and confusing to someone else. Before we ever allow an ad board to get kicked off, we make sure that every attendee is trained on how to set up their webcam, how to use it and how to look good! We eliminate “technology” as an excuse.
- Ability to address global issues and regional issues – Since you are not flying anyone in, you are able to schedule one meeting time where everyone can make themselves available. Think about how you might get feedback using only regional KOLs followed by an ad board showing the same data to your global KOLs
- Novel Ad Board Design – What if you did a series of 5 virtual ad boards with different target audiences? You could execute a physician ad board, a managed care ad board, a nurse ad board, a patient ad board, and one ad board with two representatives of each. How cool would that be? Everyone provides their feedback with their own group and we really see how this shakes out when we get everyone in the same room.
- Pre-Ad Board – How frustrating is it to prepare and ship materials then show up to an ad board and find few KOLs have completed their pre-reading assignment or homework? Consider holding a virtual ad board in advance of your next ad board. Get your audience to help focus the agenda, advise on last minute issues or internal disagreements before your live meeting. Watch all participants’ non-verbal cues to get insights about dynamics between now and your live meeting!
- Augment and confirm learnings from live ad boards – Every opinion you get from an ad board needs to be vetted in some way. A pre-ad board virtual live meeting can work like qualitative research vs quantitative research. You need to be looking for inconsistencies and disagreements based on what job each participant holds. Use your executive summary and key takeaways from your live ad board to a virtual ad board and confirm or reject your hypothesis in a virtual ad board.
- Virtual ad boards can be the 4 P’s: Participatory, Proprietary, Proactive, and Professional – Ensure that your ad boards can meet these criteria, your faculty are well-trained and know they are visible to others, and your content is compelling.
- Cost – It is extremely expensive to hire a vendor to manage the travel and logistics – trips to and from the airport, flights, hotels, meals, etc. Virtual ad boards are typically 25-30% of the cost of a live ad board.
- KOLs – Items 1-9 are all benefits to the manufacturer. There are at least 10 more benefits to the KOLs attending. Here are a few. It is more convenient to log on at night than to travel. KOLs would mostly like to minimize the soft costs associated with ad boards but reported via Sunshine Act. It is an efficient use of time. There is a collegial atmosphere. They still get their honoraria. There is more time to craft a thoughtful response and post or speak when ready.