Medical Science Liaison vs Clinical Liaison: What’s the Difference?

Research organizations utilize a variety of medical professionals to conduct successful clinical trials. Two of those positions are a medical science liaison and a clinical liaison. Both play a crucial role in keeping research organizations running smoothly, while taking on separate roles and responsibilities. While these two positions have similar qualities, medical science liaisons and clinical liaisons have different roles within the clinical research industry.

A medical science liaison, according to the Medical Liaison Science Society is a healthcare consulting professional within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, CRO and other healthcare industries. The main purpose of their role is to establish and maintain a peer to peer relationship with leading physicians at academic medical centers (AMCs) and clinics. A medical science liaison (MSL) has a more outwardly focused role, typically dealing with products that are already on the market that are being utilized by physicians. The MSL will take the information that the organization learned during the clinical development process and they will share that information with the physicians. This establishes the relationship and gives physicians an understanding of how the new product can benefit their patients. They can also get the opinion of those physicians on the product, and take those ideas back to the clinical development organization to further improve their invention.

MSLs also work very closely with sales teams; since they are the ones promoting the new product to potential buyers, the MSL has to train and educate the sales team on how the product works and the benefits they can bring to patients. A MSL typically works with physicians on a more clinical academic level, while the sales person deals with the day to day sales processes. They also help oversee clinical trials that can show that the product works as safely and effectively as it was shown to work in the original trials.

A clinical liaison is another great asset to a medical facility or healthcare organization. They handle a variety of tasks related to communications and general growth, and can provide a range of services from technical handling of new patient processes to more general community outreach. Clinical liaisons are typically registered nurses or a licensed practice nurse, with strong clinical experiences. They serve as an advocate for patients during the pre-admissions process, continuing until the patient is discharged from the facility. A clinical liaison is responsible for maintaining communication between the healthcare provider and the patient, ensuring that the patient understands and consents to the procedures being conducted. They have a significant role in evaluating patients by conducting a thorough review of the patient’s medical records, mediations, treatment plan and insurance availability. The main goal of a clinical liaison is to ensure that the patients understand procedures, the paperwork and the entire process.

Both medical science and clinical liaisons are important members in a clinical research organization. While they serve different roles, their primary focus it to provide patients with the most reliable and high quality clinical trial experiences possible.

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