An online advisory board is a platform for engaging with your customers; it allows you to share the direction of your company with key decision makers, important customers, and key opinion leaders (KOLs).

But before signing up with any online advisory board vendor, you should look for certain features that can better meet your needs. An online advisory board is a medium for collaboration that is both accessible and intimate. And because of its digital nature, a good online advisory board further aids in customer retention by archiving and creating reports on the board’s activity. Your checklist for an online advisory board vendor should minimally include support services, experience in the healthcare space, knowledgeable content experts, project management, and reporting services. A vendor that acts as a strategic partner and boasts experience in the right therapeutic areas is the ideal candidate. When making your online advisory board vendor selection, follow the tips below to guide you in making the right choice.

Think Beyond the Platform
Think beyond a basic software program or platform. While certain online advisory board vendors will initially offer training on how to use the platform, the momentum needed to really engage with customers is often unsustainable without full support services. Look for a full-service agency, not just a vendor with a superb platform. Support services should be easily accessible through the platform and provide a high response rate to requests for support.

Other questions to raise when considering an online advisory board vendor are: Is the platform built specifically for hosting advisory boards? Is the interface clean and easy to navigate? Is it built with a responsive design that is accessible across a range of devices? Does the platform support multiple browser types? Is it secure and password protected? Has it been tested by multiple clients with proven success? And finally, how accessible and responsive is the vendor’s technical support?
Supports Customer Engagement

The best online advisory boards offer full support in the management and cultivation of the platform and platform activities. In other words, for your advisory board to be successful, it should aid in your ability to continuously engage your customers. This doesn’t happen naturally. Sure, software exists that facilitates advisory board engagement, but these static platforms can result in a disappointing “one-off” meeting. When used effectively, and when online campaigns can be organized with the appropriate content, you’re much more likely to achieve continuous engagement with your customers.

The accessibility of a great platform also contributes to better engagement rates. When your customers can jump into a group meeting on any device, anywhere, and at any time, you’re on your way to building strong continuous consumer-client relationships. It is important to look for a vendor whose platform meets the technical standards we’ve outlined—including appropriate security measures for real-time and recorded collaborations—but in addition, the vendor’s support service should include a host of consultants and content creators with experience in healthcare.

Familiarity with The Healthcare Space
A vendor who is familiar with the healthcare space should understand not only important industry guidelines, but the culture as well. Look for an online advisory board that has worked with other healthcare providers including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and payers. A platform tailored to the healthcare industry is ideal, especially if the support staff has experience in communicating with the industry players. This sort of experience is what you can expect from a full-service provider of oncology insights for the life sciences industry.
The pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries all have specific strategic needs, which we will address. When selecting an online advisory board vendor, it should be a priority to choose a vendor who understands not only the specific communication requirements of the customer, but also the lifecycle of various healthcare products. Experience in your therapeutic area(s) is also important and can demonstrate the vendor’s competency in the healthcare space.

Strategic Support and Scientific Content
The right online advisory board vendor also has a strategic mindset and can help you create a vision for engaging beyond a single advisory board. In healthcare, and specifically in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, that means the vendor should be able to understand clinical endpoints as well as product milestones. Having expertise in the disease landscape is crucial, as is the ability to answer questions on market access solutions.

You should think of your vendor as a strategic partner, who should be able to help you develop and manage quality content. Your online advisory board vendor selection should include a robust content management system—ideally advisors should be able to access media-rich content anytime, anywhere. Live-streaming and recorded communications should be non-negotiable features in your search.

Report Analysis and Activity Tracking
Finally, make sure the online advisory board you select has project management and reporting services built in. Project management capabilities typically include recruiting, reminders, activity tracking, and comprehensive reports. A platform with data analysis further allows you to understand the reports in order to better organize, structure, and track content.
Digital collaboration is ripe in the field of healthcare, and the right advisory board vendor will facilitate a more impactful partnership between you and your advisors, customers, and KOLs. Look beyond a good platform for a vendor that understands the complexities of your therapeutic area and offers full support services, from content creation to analyzing user reports.