In recent conversations with life science companies about oncology market research, MDoutlook has heard rising concerns about whether the “right” oncologists, nationally and globally, are providing the right answers to the right questions. Some have mentioned stopping research due to these concerns!

Many market research organizations rely on third-party physician panels with minimal control over the quality of participants other than screening questions, which can be manipulated by savvy respondents. Research bias with the same group of participating oncologists in different initiatives results in skewed responses from an unrepresentative sample. Finally, even engaging the right oncologist does not mean the right questions are being asked to gather real-world evidence.

Red flags resulting in questionable research findings include:

  1. Are you comfortable with how well you know the engaged oncologists prior to screening?
  2. Are you providing relevant respondent characteristics, without breaking any double-blind confidentiality?
  3. Is your valuable physician panel time preoccupied with screening questions?
  4. Do you have to educate your market research partner about the intricacies of oncology, or do you need to write the right questions?
  5. Does your research partner have anchor points to other data sources and existing insights to triangulate their research?

There is a key dynamic fueling this increasing anxiety about the quality of s

market research—the need to quickly track new product performance in priority markets. This is relevant since standard prescription data, multi-disciplinary patient management, and varied institutional settings provide a scattered picture of the oncology market.

The traditional approach—recruiting oncologists exclusively from company-provided target physician lists—is outdated, resulting in untimely insights and inadequate samples. And it negates the ability to stratify between targeted physicians and those lacking the company’s beneficial support.

The industry can take major steps to ensure receipt of impeccable oncologist market intelligence on a consistent basis by:

  • Adopting a more holistic view of the oncology market by including qualified physicians not on their target list.
  • Understanding through in-depth profiling prior to research, who should be targeted for a study and why.
  • Engaging a sufficiently large panel of participating physicians to avoid “canned” responses with each initiative.
  • Shortening research fielding timelines from 12 to 6 weeks to allow rapid delivery of insights.
  • Including internal check points within the research instrument to verify response quality in data review and recruit additional responses for the unacceptable data points.
  • Creating anchor data points with internal (client) databases and/or external databases and known data-points to correlate and corroborate received answers.

Bringing cancer drugs to market is a high-stakes undertaking, requiring enormous resources.

Oncology pharmaceutical companies can no longer afford to base critical decisions on inadequate oncologist input due to a lack of data collection methods.

By deploying novel research methodologies and deeply profiled panels delivering highly actionable insights, oncology companies can maximize commercial effectiveness leading to better results for all cancer stakeholders: Patients, treating physicians, the companies, and their shareholders.

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