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Connecting clinical experts

Modern scientific research requires intense, international collaboration between research and healthcare professionals. But the need to protect sensitive information can make sharing knowledge a challenge.

In 2017, the leading global healthcare company Merck asked Signal to help them solve this problem. They needed a secure ‘virtual meeting’ solution to enable open collaboration between multiple sclerosis experts from around the world.

Radically open knowledge sharing

We proposed a bespoke, secure online space, free of organisational and geographical boundaries, built on an innovative ‘always on’ technical platform. This has allowed Merck to build a global network of MS experts, known as the Multiple Sclerosis Global Advisor Network, or MS GAN.

The platform needed to be user-friendly and balance the demand for both security and transparency. We designed it as a participatory space that enables long-term open collaboration and engagement.

“Thank you to the team at Signal for this fantastic web build. I asked for something easy to navigate and friendly for users with a professional look, and this exactly what you designed.”

Dr. Ernesto Merino-Plaza

Assoc. Medical Director, Merck

120+MS experts from 41 countries

Connecting progress with people

Merck’s strategic goal of creating a hub for multiple sclerosis experts across the world has been achieved. The growing MS GAN network already facilitates discussions, virtual advisory boards, surveys and research content for over 120 clinical experts across 41 countries.

Crucially, the platform is helping strengthen the links between emerging science and patient needs, which is leading to more informed treatment decisions.

Behind the Scenes…

A multidisciplinary virtual team

In the first two years of the project, Merck invited and registered over 120 clinical experts to MS GAN, including key opinion leaders within the MS field, such as neurologists, immunologists, and neuropsychologists.

This multidisciplinary virtual team have completed 41 activities so far, providing unique and invaluable medical feedback to the Neurology & Immunology team at Merck. Seven virtual advisory meetings have already been held, to enable debate and discussion around hot topics and newly released congress data.

Leveraging a cross-industry team

The platform is the result of collaboration between three cross-discipline delivery teams, combining Cello Health’s experience in healthcare advisory (including an existing 10 year relationship with Merck), Signal’s digital service capabilities and Merck’s in-depth understanding of the global MS expert network.

A global healthcare leader

Merck has been a global healthcare leader for over 125 years, with more than 20 years of experience in MS care and finding solutions for patients’ significant unmet medical needs. The company operates in more than 140 countries. It is known as Merck in the United States and Canada, and MSD in the rest of the world.

Enabling sustainable scientific creativity

Participation in one-off or short-term virtual meetings is not new for pharmaceutical and healthcare professionals. In contrast, MS GAN has been developed as a sustainable and growing digital resource. It makes interactive and disease-specific content available to consented participants within an open-ended timeframe. This allows for limitless discussion and collaboration around present and future MS therapies, without the need for excessive air travel.

Managing complex compliance and regulatory issues

MS GAN was developed to facilitate continuous engagement with contracted advisers. Both Merck’s legal and regulatory teams have been closely involved in the setup and development of MS GAN, providing guidance to ensure the platform’s compliance.

As part of the development process, we also identified and implemented functionality which simplified adviser contract management. This ensures that contractual documentation is available for private viewing and download via each adviser’s secure MS GAN profile at any time. In addition, the data policy agreement is continuously monitored to ensure that it is current and that the new EU GDPR rules for managing adviser information and data are being observed.