Putting HCP insights in focus in a distracted world

HCP input is essential to a myriad of decisions that pharma organisations make, from key steps in new drug development to M&A decisions. The pharma industry is incredibly fortunate that its key audience of prescribers is highly educated, intellectually curious, and values an ongoing dialogue with innovators who are striving to advance quality of life for their patients.

Yet it’s harder than ever to be a physician. Nearly 80% of primary care physicians (PCPs) are suffering from burnout, according to data from InCrowd. Demands on clinician time vary from unrealistic to unsustainable levels. Data show that 42% of physicians in 2018 saw more than 20 patients a day, some as many as 60 or more. According to ZS, doctors estimate they receive more than 2,800 contacts from pharma reps each year via digital and non-personal marketing channel — contacts that consume an estimated 84 hours per year, or two full work weeks of their time.

One consequence of this constant activity, it would seem, is a declining attention span. According to 2015 research conducted by Microsoft, the human attention span is now just eight seconds, four seconds shorter than that of a goldfish. Pharma marketers, among others, have raised the question: when is it all too much?

Access to quality data sources remains a top research concern for pharma and life science marketers year over year, according to the 2019 State of the Life Science Insights Industry report. Even with healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) extraordinary dedication to patient care, pharma marketers are asking if their HCP focused programmes are adequately suited for the highly distracting, ultra-busy world of modern healthcare.

Today, they are realising they need to do more than expand the number of digital media they use to connect with HCPs. They’re exploring new ways to achieve respondent focus for the data they source from HCPs, using techniques to identify, measure, and manage respondent focus.

Criteria for good data

Good, or focused, respondent data of course differs from bad, or distracted respondent data. Criteria to consider for attaining good data includes an understanding of:

  • The validity of the respondents as experts in their purported field of knowledge
  • The questions asked of respondents—their relevance, articulation, presentation, and context towards a single research theme
  • The respondent’s state of mind and level of focus when providing feedback to the research
  • The methodology being used to engage respondents, purge bias, and garner and maintain focus, supported by technology as a complement to human judgment rather than a substitute for it.

Pharma marketers can boost the good, focused data they obtain with some practical applications of these criteria.

Eliminating barriers to validation

In other industries, marketers can easily monitor and track primary market research insights along with the personally identifiable information of each respondent that they keep on record. However, in pharma and other life sciences, the US Sunshine Act prohibits that process without additional layers of regulation and reporting, as does the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) Code in Europe. Additionally, new privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other regulatory initiatives will continue to create challenges in obtaining notice and consent from physicians.

For this reason, compliant double-blinded market research is vital to any life science company’s ability to collect market insights. An extremely stringent validation process for these experts can use opt-in registration, validating experts with medical license, NPI number, specialty and sub-specialty, home and practice addresses, email, and knowledge of personal history, among other tactics.

New device, UX imperatives

Gaining HCPs’ attention with interesting content will inspire their focus and engagement. Recent HCP data shows that respondents are intellectually stimulated by being asked questions about areas of expertise, and view providing feedback to pharma marketers as part of a larger process to create better healthcare outcomes. When approached in ways that acknowledge an understanding of the importance of stimulating content to respondents, HCPs are more easily engaging with the content.

Mobile matters. Nearly two-thirds of physicians (64%) in the above analysis said they prefer surveys that are short and fast for which they can get alerted via text message to complete. Enabling respondent user experience (UX) at the forefront can expand access to HCPs, removing the barriers for respondents to participate in research despite their busy schedules. Approaches to obtaining HCP feedback that reach respondents via mobile phones, devices, and desktops, with surveys that render well on all three, enable the best respondent experience while taking the survey. By meeting respondents where they are and providing stimulating information, pharma marketers eliminate significant engagement barriers.

Experience by form factor matters too. Though mobile-friendly is a critical element of modern engagement, another essential aspect is device-friendliness. The top consideration for respondents (93%) when deciding to participate in a survey is device compatibility. The UX within the survey solution also needs to be designed to not only engage respondents but enable them to maintain focus while completing each question in the survey efficiently. If designed for usability, the survey UX will engender intuitive respondent functionality, individuality, and predictability. Whatever the device, the solution should create a seamless survey experience in which the technology is an invisible backdrop facilitating questions and answers rather than obstructing them with a kludgy, non-intuitive interface.

Give focus to get focus

Not surprisingly given the above data, micro research using micro surveys — surveys taking fewer than 10 minutes to complete — has seen expanded adoption because the method incorporates best practices in purging distraction and encouraging focus, such as:

  • Keeping it brief — according to the above data, 84% of respondents consider the length-of-survey among their top reasons for responding. The brevity of micro surveys mitigates survey fatigue. Data shows survey fatigue typically starts to occur after five minutesof survey taking but becomes more pronounced after 15.
  • Keeping it simple — Though Sheena Iyengarhas found in her research on choice that 10 or more options leads to bad choices, survey research is more limited by the form factors used for delivery. Six choices or fewer tends to be a good best practice limit when trying to offer a survey on a mobile device, tablet, and perhaps even desktop while still maintaining an engaging UX.

These methodological best practices harness focus by respecting clinicians’ time, which produces higher quality data.

Measure focus

Time takes on many roles in marketing. Amid a tight deadline, time might be a villain. When vastly available, it might be a generous friend. Time also has a specific role as a tool in marketers’ ability to measure respondent focus — time becomes an objective observer.

  • The focus applied to surveys can be measured by the time respondents take to respond to quantitative answers, the thoughtfulness of all of their responses, and the aberrant behavior among respondents for each specific answer.
    • By understanding the median time-to-respond to each unique question (relative to all respondents for that unique question), marketers can develop an optimal time-to-respond to that question. The same holds for the median time-to-complete for the survey, amid all respondents for that unique survey. If respondents have been engaged in the survey, they shouldn’t flag for any aberrant behavior.
  • To make these assessments, marketers can utilise a tech-enabled post-fielding quality review conducted with human oversight and expertise. Such analysis works to flag outlier data and create focus scores for each survey, including, but not limited to, the following suggested metrics: speeding through, straight-lined answers, nonsensical open ends, among others.

Identified by time, unfocused respondent behavior helps to provide marketers with insight into what ideal responses look like per questions, and overall survey completes compared to errant ones — unique relative measurement for each question and each survey. For the pharma marketer, this means they obtain an objective metric on focus, one that can attest to its presence or absence. To use time as a measurement for focus in this way, marketers need to understand what good data looks like, as well as the triggers and manifest behaviors of bad data.

These considerations help enable physicians and other HCPs to provide the focused responses that pharma organisations need. They apply the best practices necessary in garnering and maintaining respondent focus in a distracted world.

About the author

Caleb Costa is chief commercial officer at InCrowd.