A fast-moving, ever-changing global pandemic requires responses that are equally quick and just as adaptive. Case in point: Vyaire’s medical affairs team has revamped its strategies and tactics while sticking to its overall mission of providing timely, quality education to healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients and other breathing needs worldwide.
The team — originally called the Medical Advisory Board and led by Dr. Michael Pedro, vice president and medical director at Vyaire Medical — was established in mid-2020. Initially, the team worked with a group of about a dozen key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the United States and internationally to provide vital information for the care and treatment of COVID-19 patients, which was critical when so much about the disease remained unknown. Outreach efforts focused on podcasts, white papers and research studies.
Since then the team has grown to 17 people internally working with upwards of 60 external global KOLs, including medical professionals, scientists, and biomedical engineers.
“We work together to leverage expertise and identify projects to remain at the forefront of thought leadership in supporting breathing," said Maya Hawly, key opinion leader manager for neonatal and digital ventilation and respiratory diagnostics. "What we do internally is irrelevant if we don't surround ourselves with the right external medical experts and medical societies."
The team's outreach tactics also have changed. For example, podcasts have been replaced with peer-to-peer, medical education webinars. In the past year, 15 webinars were produced and attracted more than 5,000 respiratory physicians and specialists globally. After the initial events, the webinars are available on-demand.
In the coming year, Vyaire plans to produce more webinars, including content in local languages such as Italian and German featuring local medical experts. The company would like to complement the online webinars with local, in-person events.
The focus of the webinars and events is also evolving, from the immediate treatment and care of patients to understanding and dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19. "There is still much that healthcare professionals themselves don't yet know about how COVID-19 has and will change the medical world," Hawly said.
Hawly also noted Vyaire would like to expand its partnerships with leading medical societies and institutions around the globe. The company currently has partnerships with organizations such as the American Association for Respiratory Care, European Society for Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care, Amsterdam Academic Medical Center (AMC) and Italy's Politecnico di Milano.
Through these partnerships Vyaire Medical supports the organizations' ongoing research and the institutions assist with Vyaire research and product innovation. For example, to support the AMC’s work on neonatal ventilation, Vyaire provided a fellowship grant to Amsterdam University Medical Care (UMC) for post-doctorate students to conduct research projects.
Internally, the medical affairs team's role and structure has evolved as well. Divided into sub-groups, each team supports specific functions including product launches with medical research and data, clinical affairs through clinical studies and risk assessments, KOL relationship management, and clinical data and regulatory compliance.
But even with all the changes — both externally and internally — that have been brought on by the global pandemic, Hawly said the team's overall mission remains the same.
"The patient always has been, and always will be, at the center of what we do," she said. "The only thing that's changed is how we do it."
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