In a recently published report, the Academy of Medical Sciences surveyed 2,041 members of the public and 1,013 general practitioners regarding their attitude to medical research. Startlingly only 37% of the public said they would trust evidence from medical research while 65% said they would trust experience from family and friends. Even more surprising was that 82% of the general practitioners surveyed said that they believed medical research was biased to demonstrate favourability towards the positive effects of drugs and that they are skeptical of claims made by pharmaceutical drug trials.
Those of us working with the bio pharmaceutical industry are exposed to the rapid progression of medical science on a regular basis. When we look at the relatively recent advances of cancer treatment, the results are staggering – no longer making many cancers a death sentence. So why are the public and our general practitioners still skeptical? Beyond working toward restoring the public perceptions that the focus of bio pharmaceutical companies has on driving healthcare and not profits, what can we, as communicators, do to ensure that our communications are targeted, appropriate and well-balanced?
Throughout the drug life cycle there are always good reasons to keep patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) well informed and educated and it’s vital for medical affairs teams to communicate not only robust, data-driven science – that’s a given – but to also meet the needs of the target audience. What better way to do this than to truly understand their challenges through insights and analytics. With patients becoming a more aged population and more sophisticated treatments being made available, insight-driven content can help drive the development of clearer and more useful information enabling patients and HCPs to make better-informed decisions.
This begins with appropriately capturing and synthesizing insights from the different audience groups and then deploying these insights and the knowledge they bring to provide the most relevant and accurate information that is targeted and allows your communications to cut through the noise. To do this effectively, it’s essential that medical affairs fosters a deep understanding of who they are aiming to engage with, what are their needs and how they like to receive that information. Ultimately, the end goal is to foster the ability to anticipate the needs of each of the stakeholder groups and to meet those needs in the most effective way through language and level of science that will resonate.
When companies invest into developing insight-driven, relevant communications and providing them in platforms and language that are meaningful to patients or HCPs they improve the time, cost and outcome of their research efforts while delivering a more positive experience for their patients.
Perhaps in the future we can all help move the needle and increase the trust in medical research by providing the best possible ways to use and communicate scientific evidence so that progress will be translated directly into patient benefits – the ultimate goal.