The best route to physician engagement

In an increasingly fast-paced world, the most useful doctor insights will come from research methods that fit in with doctors’ time-pressured lives.

As the numbers of new drug approvals continue to accelerate and medical technology advances, drug makers need a faster, more precise understanding of how their market is changing. Often this requires insight from targeted prescribers to ensure that strategies are sound.

Yet capturing physician input and distilling these insights at the speed of business today is no small feat, even with vast improvements in data collection technology. As electronic medical record requirements and insurance considerations become more involved and complex, physicians are more taxed with issues beyond patient treatment (and certainly market research) than ever before.

How to get closer to the physician customer?

To find out how best to reach prescribers, InCrowd surveyed 200 out of 1.8 million verified physicians in partnership with WebMD. An even mix of cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists and primary care physicians made up the final respondent pool for this research. The microsurvey asked about the biggest anticipated obstacles in 2015, physician likes and dislikes about research methods, and how they would structure the ideal market research experience.

• Physicians seem most pressured by the business of healthcare. When asked about their biggest obstacles for 2015, some 35 per cent of respondents cited concerns about bureaucratic and compliance mandates, 35 per cent insurance/reimbursement hassles, 19 per cent patient loads and work/life balance, 8 per cent salary and staffing concerns; while only 3 per cent said they foresaw no obstacles. With such complex distractions prominently on their mind, it’s in the best interest of pharma companies and those that implement their programmes to design research dialogues in a way that doesn’t add to a prescriber’s already cumbersome job.

“Designing surveys that follow the classic ‘three Es’ of user experience – Easy, Efficient and Engaging – further optimises the appeal”



• Simplicity is critical. In an analysis of over 120,000 instances of questions presented to respondents in the past year via our application, complex survey question types, such as matrix questions, forced ranking, or multiple short answer (open-ended) question types were between four and 10 times more likely to cause drop-outs from a survey than a simple multiple choice question. Therefore designing surveys that follow the classic ‘three Es’ of user experience – Easy, Efficient and Engaging – further optimises the appeal and thus the likelihood that the research will be completed with the appropriate level of attention.

• Honoraria may not be the most efficient lever. In contrast to prevailing wisdom, fewer than 4 per cent of respondents even mentioned honoraria being too low as a pet peeve with market research. While the presence of honoraria is a given in market research with prescribers, research suggests that, to busy physicians, time is money.

• Online short surveys are the most appealing means of research dialogue by far. Surveys (68 per cent) in general far outweighed qualitative interviews (25 per cent) as the most enjoyed form of market research, primarily due to convenience and the ability to complete at their leisure. Physicians recommend making surveys more concise and educational as a way to further improve the experience.

• Fast and efficient surveys mean more opportunity for communication. Those physicians that enjoy microsurveys most (9-10 on the rating scale) are willing to participate in 15 surveys per month, versus nine for everyone else. Physicians who have adopted the micro approach are willing to participate in 11 qualitative interviews per month versus just six for those physicians accustomed to more traditional, lengthier methods.

The imperative

So, these results come down to a matter of attention. Would pharma marketers prefer to have 90 per cent of a physician’s attention for 5 minutes, or only 5 per cent of their attention for 90 minutes?

While not every business need can be addressed by a micro research interaction, at a time of profound changes in every industry today – where the agile survive, and fully 70 per cent of the Fortune 1000 list of 10 years ago are no longer in business – pharma companies can’t simply stick with the same old approaches to collecting physician insight. Employing easier, more efficient and engaging market research methods will produce a better experience for all users, so the more readily obtained results can then inform business decisions that are being made every day, not once a quarter.

About the author:

Caleb Costa leads the client services team at InCrowd Inc and has spent the last five years specialising in healthcare market research for pharma and leading health system clients across the US. He has built and effectively commercialised innovative products and services in the market research, business intelligence and payments industries. He holds a BS in Business Administration from SUNY Stony Brook University and an Executive MBA from the Silberman School of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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