Verified Physicians a Must for Ensuring Quality Data From Online Surveys, Finds Frost & Sullivan
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., January 27, 2009/PRNewswire/ As online physician panels gain popularity among pharmaceutical and medical device companies that conduct web-based surveys, research shows there is little interest to verify that the respondents in these surveys are indeed genuine physicians. This fraud can severely impact the quality of the data and compromise the integrity of the effort as the studies are only as good as their underlying respondents. It can also be costly for the study sponsors that base critical business decisions on these studies. Although some panel vendors make efforts to verify the identity of their physicians, it is the pharmaceutical marketing and brand managers who must increase their interest in this issue to force data quality standards.
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, recently completed a whitepaper entitled that investigates the process of panel member verification for several key solution providers, including Epocrates, Medscape/WebMD and e-Rewards. This whitepaper reviews verification processes that impact the reliability of physician panels, including physician recruitment or opt-in participation, reliability and automation of the verification process, and disbursement of post-study honoraria.
"The pharmaceutical industry makes crucial business decisions on the basis of data obtained through online surveys of doctors," said Frost & Sullivan analyst Fernanda LopezAraujo. "So it was surprising for us to find how little consideration went into the verification of physicians used to generate this data by many of the companies funding the surveys."
"We have found some online panel vendors like Epocrates and Medscape/WebMD to be extremely conscientious about verifying their panelists' information against a credible source such as the American Medical Association database," continues LopezArauio. "Other vendors depend far more on self-reporting by physicians, and may not be as rigorous in imposing crucial checks on respondents who desire to participate in online surveys."
Pharmaceutical and medical device companies eventually pay for the online surveys; consequently, they also shoulder the responsibility to set expectations and ensure that best practices are followed in the industry. Market research managers from these companies should take an active role in the selection of a physician panel vendor that best meets their need for an online physician survey, and which also has a rigorous procedure for validating respondents.
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Posted: January 2009