Should Medical Education Report To Marketing?

Medical Education

You typically see it more in Med Tech and Med Device than you do in Pharma. As a company grows from start-up to mid-size, the need for a training and medical education department arises. Due to the pressures of controlling human resources’ spending, this position usually begins with a management-level role that combines both training and medical education. Further, it may be given to an employee from sales who has a strong clinical and training foundation but may not be adept at forming new departments riddled with regulatory complexities.

As the company continues to gain momentum, it becomes increasingly more obvious that the sales training and medical education roles should be separated. At last, there is a position created for a Director of Medical Education who now reports to a VP of Marketing. The evolution of this role continues as the organization struggles with the fact that you can track marketing and sales success with ROI, but you cannot track it for Medical Education ROI due to rigid regulatory guidelines and the intricacies of metrics that can be used.

Here in lies the question, “Should medical education report to marketing?” It’s a tough question to answer. With so much budgetary spend directed towards medical education programs and a core vision driven by marketing initiatives, there are internal pressures for these two department to remain together even as the company expands. However, you may notice that there is an underlying conflict of interest as “educating” a physician cannot be considering “selling”. Regulatory guidelines strictly prohibit activities that can be considered inducing a practitioner to use your product.  The organization balances on the fine line of educating physicians and marketing to physicians. The medical education teams must be careful in their interactions to avoid an OIG audit and the costly lawsuit that can eventually perpetuate a company into solvency.

Seasoned clinical educators may have encountered the question, “If we can’t measure ROI in medical education then what can we measure?” Being proactive and finding ways to track the activity of physicians’ programs, including speaking engagements and webinars helps to put a global perspective on the organizations’ efforts. Medical education teams can also measure their effectiveness by surveying attendees, employees and physician speakers for insights and feedback.

There is a shift as the company continues on the growth journey from a mid-sized company to a large organization with increasing segregation of roles.  With this segregation it becomes easier to implement the gold standard of medical education by creating a firewall between sales reporting metrics and medical education. Undoubtedly there is a strong correlation between medical education and sales performance but it should not be correlated to ROI.

In the end, regardless of the size or organizational structure, it is fundamental to follow the regulatory and compliance guidelines of the countries the company operates in and is truly essential to long-term success. Begin by continually educating your employees on the “do’s” and “don’ts” of interacting with a physician around the topic of medical education and in particular honorariums and agreements.  Invest in skilled and knowledgeable medical education leaders who can drive one of your biggest budgetary spend in the most impactful and ethical way possible.


Take the first step today with providing your company with an engaging and interactive Regulatory and Compliance eLearning training program.  It’s better to be safe than sorry! Feel free to contact our team directly at or fill out the form below. From there, we can set up an individual consultation to help better understand your needs and how we can exceed them. 

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Jennifer Imerini has over 20 years of experience working in the healthcare industry. She has expertise in understanding and developing teams, processes, and infrastructure for marketing, sales training and physician education departments within major pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies.

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