Future Proofing Medical Capabilities


Meg Heim discusses the rationale for bringing the MAPS partnership to her leadership colleagues and for supporting MAPS membership for 100 of their diabetes and cardiovascular field and home office medical teams, and why Medical Affairs needs to take control and shape its future

Predicting the future is fraught with error and, in the face of the unknown, the only approach, according to Meg Heim, Vice President, Head of North America Diabetes & Cardiovascular Scientific Communications, Sanofi is to take control and be an active participant. That was her rationale when she partnered with her leadership colleagues and spearheaded signing up 100 of their field and medical teammates to be members of MAPS following the MAPS Miami Annual Meeting that took place in March this year. “By bringing the best of Medical together into one group, instead of forecasting the future, you’re recasting it. You get to build and shape what Medical should be in the future instead of having to react to it.'

“Patient engagement is currently within the realm of early adopters and innovators; it’s time for it to go mainstream.”

Different perspectives come together to form better ideas

With representation from 130 companies, MAPS offers a resource to Medical Affairs professionals looking for best practice guidance and standards. “Developing best practices in unison as a function has tremendous value as everyone brings something special to the table. We’re often so internally focused and instead of having say, 12 years' experience, you’re getting the combined experience of everyone in the room, across all levels."

Future-proofing Medical capabilities

How can Medical Affairs help build leaders capable of meeting the challenges of tomorrow’s healthcare industry? According to Heim, the education and training program developed by MAPS helped them identify a key valued capability – business acumen. “At Sanofi, we wanted to redevelop our Individual Development Plans for our Medical teams. I went through the training module that MAPS had and we ended up redefining our IDPs, not only to address present needs but looking further out at what Medical teams will look like in five years’ time and how do we prepare those individuals for what’s coming. We built a customized education and training program utilizing the MAPS program to complement what our CMO office and company already had in place.”


Business acumen, or financial acumen/literacy, is defined as an intuitive and applicable understanding of how a company creates value and is critical to effective strategy execution. “We’re a company with a presence in 110 countries and with 130,000 employees with access to a lot of learning platforms, but we thought there was a piece that could be done differently with accelerated learning – business acumen. But you don’t want to bring business acumen into Medical in a point in time; you want to bring it in layers for people where they are in their career and educational journey and that’s what we were able to accomplish."


In today’s hypercompetitive environment, life science organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on collaboration to compete successfully – creating new value networks, tapping into new sources of innovation, and driving growth through strategic partnerships. As Medical increasingly collaborates with technology companies and other business partners, business acumen will allow Medical to interface with different kinds of people in different industries using a common language. “Organizations need to ensure they can deliver on their strategic objectives by leveraging high-performing collaborative partnerships and alliances. The skills required to manage these complex collaborative relationships have now become critical value-creating competencies. This financial literacy and capability development within business strategy will elevate Medical in the evolving healthcare ecosystem and will make our teams so much more relevant because it lifts the conversation towards healthcare strategy, driving competitive advantage and improved outcomes,” says Heim.

“This financial literacy and capability development within business strategy will elevate Medical in the evolving healthcare ecosystem and will make our teams so much more relevant because it lifts the conversation towards healthcare strategy, driving competitive advantage and improved outcomes”.

According to Boudes, Medical Affairs as the interface between the internal pharma organization and the patient community has a key role to play here. “Medical Affairs has to translate the input from the patient representative within the internal process and vice versa. The dialogue between the internal organization and the patient needs to be efficient and there needs to be alignment in this regard. The main improvement required is early engagement, as it is never too early."


“While both the pharmaceutical industry and regulators have achieved some progress in incorporating patient perspectives into their activities, the lack of a standardized framework and metrics has made it challenging to achieve consistency and measure success in patient engagement. We need to change the mindset and prove engagement works, otherwise we’re going to miss out on this opportunity that was created through decades of advocacy work by the patient groups. Working with patients creates value for the whole healthcare ecosystem and that’s in everyone’s interests, and this is embedded in EPF’s six strategic goals.”