Leadership Q&A with Abby Mallon

Abigail Mallon is Senior Vice President, Innovation and Strategy at VMS BioMarketing. She provides the strategic direction, thought leadership, and vision necessary to innovate on all client-facing products and services. Over the past 19 years, Abigail has played an instrumental role in the growth of VMS. She led the development and execution of the company's first Clinical Educator network to provide patient support programs, and has since overseen the journey to the current offering of multiple networks and programs across numerous device, pharmaceutical, and healthcare brands. 

What first attracted you to VMS?

The entrepreneurial spirit and the people. Early on at VMS, I had the opportunity to take on a role that was just a job and turn it into a career because the owners believed in their team and allowed us the freedom and opportunity to take on new things. They allowed us to 'fail fast' and to learn from mistakes, and empowered us to make the company great.

Why do you believe what you do makes a difference?

The work we do matters, and it makes a difference in peoples' lives! Having been at VMS for almost 18 years, I have had the unique and invaluable opportunity to see the impact Nurse Educators can have on helping patients face chronic disease from day one. Facing a new diagnosis or starting a new medication therapy that requires change isn't easy, so having another person to support you - someone who is knowledgeable, can answer your questions, and is patient and kind - is the best way to get started and keep going. That's what our nurses do every day, and it's an honor to be a part of it.

What do you do to help build the culture of innovation at VMS?

I have worn many hats throughout my career at VMS, but my current role is absolutely my favorite because it's all about innovation - specifically, how we create a culture of continuous innovation at VMS. We believed that in order to be truly an innovative company, everyone in the company must innovate in their roles. However, we didn't want just to tell our team to be innovative, we wanted to provide the process, resources, and tools to be innovative in their roles. With that charge, I have had the opportunity to lead our innovation program here at VMS. This includes a series of Innovation Labs to solve our most challenging problems, develop an Innovation Toolkit to provide our team the resources to creatively brainstorm and approach new business challenges, and ultimately apply the key learnings that come out of our labs to develop new and innovative products and services for the clients we serve.

Why is medication adherence such an important issue, and what do you think are the best ways to tackle this concern?

Patients need help. Nearly half the population faces a chronic disease, and three out four patients don't take their medication correctly. Additionally, healthcare reform has added an increased burden to patients because they are taking on more of the cost of their medications, working through changing healthcare plans, and trying to manage their disease all at the same time. It can be overwhelming and cause patients to just stop taking medication altogether. I believe that the Nurse Educator is one of the best roles to help patients navigate through this process and provide the education and support they need.

Why is VMS the best choice for a pharma or biotech client to assist with adherence programs?

VMS has been solely focused on providing Nurse Educator services for more than 20 years. It's what we do. We do not try to be all things to all people, and thus have a deep experience and passion in this space. This laser focus affords us the opportunity to attract best-in-class Nurse Educators and more importantly, retain them, which ensures high quality on the front lines with patients and healthcare professionals. Because of their passion and expertise, our Nurse Educators make a personal, emotional connection with people, and they maintain ongoing relationships. They follow up, check in, answer questions, offer suggestions, and hold peoples' hands throughout the journey. They offer the right connections at the right times, which improves adherence and outcomes.

What advice would you give to someone who is pursuing a career similar to yours?

I would say it's an amazing business to be in because you can affect and play a small part in improving patients' lives. It's a career that provides meaning and value, and gives you a reason to come to work every day. Not many jobs give you that satisfaction. My best advice for pursuing this type of career is that it requires passion for your work, drive, resilience, and ability to embrace change. Healthcare will continue to change at a rapid pace, and those who can adapt and embrace that change will thrive and have a very rewarding career.

What hobbies or interests do you enjoy when you aren't working?

I love spending time with my family and taking family walks. It's become a family tradition after dinner on a nice evening. Staying healthy is important to me. I love running and doing yoga as a way to relieve stress and recharge my batteries.