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Re-think Your Next RfP: The Benefits of Real-world Approaches in Healthcare Market Research

Re-think Your Next RfP: The Benefits of Real-world Approaches in Healthcare Market Research

In order to make strategic decisions to enhance their competitive edge, pharmaceutical brand teams require reliable market research data. Therefore, as market researchers, we must seek methods that can add confidence to our data. Further to this, we should strive to provide data that will, as much as possible, be replicated in the real world. That way, whether the brand team is navigating the path towards launch or defending an established asset facing an influx of generics, they can be assured in their decision-making.


Within healthcare market research, one of the most effective approaches we can use to attain real-world data is a patient record form (PRF). Here, healthcare professionals provide information relating to the demographic, diagnosis and treatment of a specific patient (non-attributable) within their caseload. This data can then be used as stimulus within the interview or it can be aggregated and analysed across the full sample. At Vox.Bio, we feel the inclusion of PRFs improves the quality of insight we deliver and, therefore, elevates the value of our research to clients. Here are three key reasons why.

Firstly, it allows us to talk to clinicians about something they really care about – their patients. Maximising respondent engagement with research is one way of improving data reliability. When we include a PRF exercise in qualitative research with clinicians, it’s noticeable how much more animated they are when discussing their own patients, and the treatment decisions they made for them. This richness of discussion is deepened in a dyad setting – where two clinicians are able to engage with each other to explain their prescribing rationale based on real-world examples.

Secondly, grounding discussion in real-world examples provides us with a more accurate picture of current behaviour, whilst also informing a better prediction of future behaviour. As has been evidenced in behavioural theory literature, humans are not very good at predicting their own future behaviour – they routinely and significantly underestimate the influence of contextual factors. Additionally, due to social desirability bias1, respondents may give answers they feel the researcher ‘wants’ to hear – rather than more honest responses. For each of these reasons, asking clinicians to outline their behaviour (current or future) in hypothetical scenarios is less likely to generate reliable insights. Instead, if we explore prescribing decisions for real patients, we can be more confident we are attaining a true picture of the clinician’s thought process. We can then leverage this data to understand treatment decision-making in greater depth and to map future treatment approaches with more certainty.

Lastly, these approaches can add value to research at all stages of the product lifecycle. The graphic below illustrates the benefits of including a real-world prescribing component across four types of project, each at a different stage of the lifecycle:

1 CHR Sparks Blog Graphic for Angus C

The diagram above illustrates just a few examples of how real-world approaches can be incorporated successfully into healthcare market research projects. What’s clear to us is the value these exercises can bring – they represent an efficient method of boosting data quality and reliability, equipping us with greater confidence that we are answering the important questions at the heart of our research. Accordingly, the brand teams we support can have confidence the decisions they are taking are based on data that is reflective of the market they are operating in.


Angus Coleman

Vox.Bio Senior Research Manager