Increasing Diversity in Clinical Trials
In a session titled “Driving Meaningful Change in Clinical Trial Recruitment as Part of Long-Term Business Transformation,” Robert Allen, lead for digital operations and global public affairs at Bristol Myers Squibb, shared his own journey to recovery after a heart attack and bypass surgery. Because he’s in good physical condition and is fortunate enough to be in the pharma industry, Allen – who is Black — said, he had the knowledge, time and financial resources to get the care he needed to heal. But unlike Allen, many other Black patients face social and financial inequities that prevent them from seeking and receiving care, including access to healthcare providers (HCPs); ability to take time off from work; and even whether they perceive HCPs as allies.

These same issues – particularly mistrust — also result in less participation in clinical trials, where Black patients are all but absent; after years of betrayal and systemic racism on the part of HCPs, trust is difficult to come by. Still, there are steps pharma can take to increase minority participation in clinical trials:

  • Build trust by seeking to understand the circumstances and concerns of minority patients; recognize that minority groups are different and have different concerns
  • Focus on the specific needs of minority patients.
  • Consider providing compensation for time lost at work.
  • Be flexible in terms of time to accommodate those who can’t leave work.
  • Offer remote solutions – e.g., can trial participants report back virtually or by phone, rather than at the trial site; is there a remote monitoring tool that can be employed?
  • Provide transportation to the trial site if needed – or get closer to where patients are (for example, if they live outside of a metropolitan area).
  • Help them understand the process and why clinical trials are so important.

Tips for Capturing Authentic Patient Interviews
Amanda Phraner, director of public affairs and social media at Horizon Therapeutics, provided tips on virtual interviewing to help create authentic patient stories while navigating approvals and staying within message guardrails.

After gaining stakeholder approval, Phraner suggested, begin with a pre-call to get to know the patient and their concerns. Then, for the actual interview, start with easy questions to make the interviewee feel comfortable and willing to open up. Once they’re talking, you can quickly guide the conversation. Listen for sound bites, but don’t interrupt — let them talk and save follow-up questions for later.

To get the best results, Phraner notes, interview with empathy:

  • Make eye contact – even if you’re interviewing virtually, you can do this by looking into your own camera to create the feeling of eye contact.
  • Pay attention to body language, including everyone “in the room,” as well as anything else that is visible.
  • Be curious. Follow up on emotions like happiness, hesitance.
  • Ask open-ended questions – this allows the interview to progress without injecting your own bias (even when it’s subconscious). Be an active listener – read body language, nonverbal cues; be there to capture THEIR perspective.
  • Reframe and restate: “Just to make sure I heard you right, is this what you said?”

It’s also important to accept that we’re working in a virtual world, and we’re doing the best we can with what we’re given – BUT, there are steps you can take to get the best possible result.

  • Embrace that the video was conducted virtual.
  • Lighting and sound are key; provide tools to the interviewee that enhance these.
  • Allow time for setup and identifying the best spot, knowing that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Capture photos – without b-roll, photos matter all the more.

The Now and the Next in Pharma Marketing
In a preview of a soon-to-be-released whitepaper, The Now and the Next in Pharma Marketing: Research and Insights to Innovate in a New Normal, Intouch EVP Wendy Blackburn and Mark Bard, co-founder and managing partner of the Digital Health Coalition, discussed key insights from recently conducted proprietary surveys of 250 U.S. physicians in the areas of primary care, dermatology, gastroenterology, neurology, rheumatology, hematology and oncology. More than 30 pharma executives were also surveyed for the whitepaper. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Physicians worry less now about access to Rx clinical trial updates and professional education than earlier in 2020.
  • Physicians want lunch-and-learns, social relationships with reps and Rx sampling.
  • How physicians communicate with reps, in addition to video detailing:​
    • 72% use email ​
    • 46% use phone ​
    • 34% use text ​
  • When asked about telehealth:
    • 67% say it fails when it comes to conducting exams and procedures
    • 56% state the technology and platforms are challenging for patients
    • 53% report they can’t provide the same level of care via telehealth ​
  • When asked about bringing patients back into the office:
    • 57% say patients need education and confidence in in-person visits. ​
    • 54% agree more needs to done to build awareness of the need to treat when symptoms, rather than waiting to come in
    • 52% believe increased awareness of telehealth as an option for some visits will help
  • ​Nearly three-quarters of companies have brands that have experienced a decline in new patient starts​ due to fear of hospitals and physician offices and HCP reluctance to virtually diagnose or to start patients on new treatment.
  • What’s working with consumers in 2020? What’s ahead for 2021? ​
    • Turnkey concierge services
    • Industry-driven “get back to the doctor’s office” campaigns that urge patients to get care
    • Reinvention and disruption

To learn more about how to evolve your commercial strategy for the challenges 2021 will bring, pre-register to receive The Now and the Next in Pharma Marketing: Research and Insights to Innovate in a New Normal.