The world is always changing, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.
The Way Things Were
Customer experience research in pharma used to be heavily centered on sales representative performance because they were the “face” of the pharma company and the primary touch point with physicians. They had significant opportunity to form close, personal relationships. Research studies focused on whether sales reps were knowledgeable and professional, respected the physician’s time and helped enable physicians to better take care of patients. But a lot has changed in the past few years…
Ensuring that patients understand, accept and follow recommended treatment plans is the first step towards the best possible outcome—medically for the patient and financially for the healthcare delivery system. Similarly, physicians are in the best position to individualize this treatment plan to one that is optimal for the patient.
Yet all too often patients resist their physician’s recommendation immediately or at the pharmacy, or they initially accept only to abandon treatment later. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?
In the 1951 Disney adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, our protagonist finds herself in a bit of a predicament. Eager to catch the White Rabbit as he scurries off, Alice is too large to squeeze through the door to continue her pursuit. In frustration, she calls out to the doorknob, “I simply must get through!” The doorknob replies, “Sorry, you’re much too big. Simply impassible.” Confused, Alice responds, “You mean impossible?” Doorknob: “No, impassible. Nothing’s impossible.”
Impassible versus impossible. It’s easy to see how Alice was confounded by these two very similar looking and sounding words. However, the dialogue between the doorknob and Alice is more than clever wordplay; it’s sage advice. If a path meets an obstacle, change the perspective and try again. Seemingly impassible problems are opportunities for adaptation, creative thinking and novel solutions.
Sixty percent of Americans suffer from a chronic disease, making the need for affordable treatment options critical. Even with health insurance, sufferers struggle to manage their condition as prescription costs continue to rise and shift to the patient. The repercussions of this trend cascade through the patient-provider relationship, which now includes insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
Market Strategies International recently conducted a study of more than 1,000 adults age 18 and older to understand the impact of rising prescription costs in three key areas:
- Intentional prescription non-compliance
- Consumer attitudes towards healthcare providers, health insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies
- Consumer awareness and enrollment in patient assistance programs (PAPs)
What we found is a huge gap between needs and value as well as a strong indication that PAPs may be the panacea for improving compliance and attitudes towards pharmaceutical companies.
As a first-time mom to an 11-week-old girl, the growing concern about the Zika virus has captured my attention. Daily, I count my blessings that both she and I are healthy, having come through pregnancy and labor safely. As a researcher focusing primarily on pharmaceuticals and healthcare, I spend a significant amount of time learning about devastating diseases, but this one has really hit home.
It was almost exactly a year ago, while traveling for in-situ research with healthcare providers, that I called my husband from a hotel room early in the morning to tell him that we were finally pregnant. That same week, I flew to four different states as my research continued, and the next week three more. Within a month, I was onto another project and literally circling the globe to conduct interviews with oncologists in Asia and Europe.
Travel has always been–and will continue to be–an integral part of my life and work. I was fortunate that morning sickness was the only ailment that I had to worry about while traveling so broadly. What would I have done if the Zika virus had been spreading then? How would I react if research was going to take me to South America? I can only imagine I would have immediately begun doing the thing I’m probably best at – asking questions.
In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie announced that she had a preventive double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she carries the BRCA gene, putting her at an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer. The announcement, shared as an essay in The New York Times, sparked a national conversation about genetic testing. Since then, there seem to be daily news reports suggesting the findings of new genetic mutations that may be linked to risk for certain diseases or used for diagnosis of a disease.
We were curious how the populace is feeling about genetic testing—do they see value in knowing the future, or do they find peace in not knowing? To find out, we conducted our own study with 1,006 people in the US to understand what they know about genetic testing and what they think of it—what we learned surprised us.
As my friends and family spread out around the globe, my community is moving steadily from meeting in coffee houses to meeting up online on SnapChat and WhatsApp. I prefer the semi-impermanence of SnapChat. It’s like my best friend taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey, look what I just saw? What do you think of that?” even though he’s living thousands of miles away in rural Africa. My online world is only a shade less vibrant than my “real” life. If I were to invite you into my home, introduce you to my family, neighbors or friends, you would only be seeing half of my life. With international relatives and most friends living over an hour away, I am increasingly living my life online.
Online Communities as Sources of Comfort & Friendship
I’m not alone. The mass migration to digital life can be seen everywhere. The diversity of idea sharing comes to life online—look at the richness of any comment section associated with a major newspaper and our conceptions of community can only grow broader. We are constantly presented with voices that dissent from and endorse our world view. In our private lives, online communities are sources of comfort and friendship. Take for example patients or caregivers in the health-medical space where it can be difficult to gain access to others with similar experiences in their “real life.” Having a rare disease can be isolating when there are no other patients in the region to connect with in-person. Increasingly, people are relying on online communities for information and human connection.
“Generic medications are not as good as branded medications.”
“If it costs more, it must be better.”
“If I switch from a branded drug to its generic version, I risk treatment failure.”
With 7 in 10 US adults taking at least one prescription medication, and where 8 out of 10 prescriptions written are for generic drugs, it has been common to hear these comments from patients and even healthcare professionals. Until now. According to new independent research from Market Strategies International, these prevalent myths appear to be dying out, and Americans now feel right at home in a world dominated by generics.
Improved Perception of Generic Drugs
According to our study, the majority of US adults now believe that generic medications are just as good as branded medications. Consider these statistics:
As researchers, we hear–and are frequently asked about–‘new’ approaches, methodologies, deliverables…and so on. I believe true innovation in research (and perhaps in most industries) comes at a glacial pace, simply because many of the tried, true and tested methods are amazing, wonderful and solid members of our research family. This is especially true in quantitative research. However, lately I have been riding a wave of new research approaches that leverage today’s technology.These are fun and exciting projects to be a part of and are offering our clients deep learning, intimate insights and the opportunity for real-time, global collaboration as a team.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about these options. Today’s topic? Asynchronous video.