7 Common Mistakes MSLs Make with Medical Insights

kernel develops software for collecting, analyzing, and reporting medical insights. This means we have a lot of conversations with MSL leads about insights process. This include things that are not working so well. Here is a list of the most common things MSL leads say that they wish MSLs were better at when reporting insights.

1. Not understanding what an insight is

Are you familiar with the definition of an insight? Does your organization have guidelines about what is an insight? Are you familiar with these guidelines? A good best practice is reviewing the guidelines annually to help keep them top of mind. Understanding what an insight is will help ensure you report valuable information (read #2 for more details). This will enable your Medical leadership make better decisions that improve the lives of patients.

Not sure? Ask your manager or field medical lead. Or check out this guide: What is a Medical Insight?


2. Thinking everything is an insight

Insights are discoveries that inform your medical strategy. Meeting notes, observations, medical information requests, activity logs, etc are not insights. Are they important? Should they be reported? Yes and yes, but they are not insights.

Make sure you know the difference between activity logs, requests for info, etc and insights. Then report those according to your organization’s policies. This will save your leadership time when analyzing insights.

3. Not reporting insights right away

Things move fast. Everyone is really busy. It’s easy to forget details. Report insights as soon as possible. And be accurate. Remember, your manager doesn’t want to chase you down and ask you about your insights. Plus this helps you stay on top of things and avoid the “full inbox when you come back from vacation” situation.

Some best practices for timely reporting of insights:

  1. Report within 24 hours of the interaction

  2. Take excellent notes while it’s fresh to ensure none of the details get lost before you get to your laptop

  3. If your insights tool has a mobile app and/or voice transcription for capturing insights, take advantage of it 

common mistakes msls make with medical insights save time

4. Making insights too long

Some MSLs write out long paragraphs with every minute detail. This can be time-consuming for Medical leads to digest (and for you to write)! If your insights tool already asks for the HCP and institution info, it is probably not necessary to repeat this in the insight itself.

No need to report everything. Keep it short and concise. Include only the relevant information. Also remember your manager has to summarize all the insights across the whole team. Try to capture insights in a way that makes that later summary easier. If there are questions, your manager will reach out to you.

5. Not using spell checker

Avoid spelling and grammatical errors by using a spell checker. It is unprofessional if your insights are full of typos. Plus, it can introduce extra work for the MSL lead because any typos will need to be fixed before being included in a report to share with other stakeholders.

common mistakes msls make with medical insights spell check

6. Not getting to the root cause

This is a biggie. You don’t want your manager to read your insight and think “Ok, why is he/she telling me this?” Make sure it is something that can be acted on. Actionable is the key.

When meeting with HCPs, make sure to uncover information that is actionable. This means uncovering the “why” behind a HCP's feedback. Reporting that a HCP isn’t impressed with clinical trial data is important to your Medical leadership, but it isn’t enough and they cannot act on it. They need to know exactly why the HCP isn’t impressed. Knowing the why will help them determine what should be done next. For example, creating a scientific or education program to address concerns.

Need some pointers on how to do this during interactions with HCPs? Check out this article: Using the 5 Whys to Uncover Actionable Insights.

7. Not including the “so what”

Understanding what insights mean and then making strategic decisions is a huge challenge for Medical leadership. Help your leaders out by including why this is important for the Medical Strategy. You are an embedded local resource and often know more about your community/disease than anyone else. Help your company understand why trends and patterns are important. Your leaders will thank you.

common mistakes msls make with medical insights leader


There you have it. These are the most common insight reporting mistakes we hear about from MSL leads. What do you think? What are your favorite best practices? Do you have other tips for reporting insights? If yes, please share!