Patient Chart Studies
In an ideal world for pharmaceutical market researchers, the live interaction between physicians and patients during office visits could be observed. Direct exposure to this interaction would reveal the actual decision-making process for therapy selection and follow-up treatment. Unfortunately for marketers, however, gaining full access to the patient-physician exchange is not possible due to the need to protect patient privacy.
Next to observing actual office visits, researchers can most effectively capture information about patient-physician interactions by studying patient charts. Based on your business and research objectives, a patient chart study can be incorporated into one or more of the following three types of research.
Qualitative studies using patient charts are helpful when little is known about a market. They are also used to explore a specific patient type or probe actual decisions related to patient care.
This approach enables researchers to engage physicians in discussion about actual patients. As a result, physicians provide real-world information and not speculation based on hypothetical situations. Findings from these studies can guide a subsequent study that focuses on a specific business issue--often modeled as strategic quantitative research.
Read more about qualitative patient chart studies.
Strategic quantitative patient chart studies are typically initiated when marketers want to understand the treatment process—from when a patient presents symptoms to a physician to the point at which the physician decides to initiate (or not initiate) a prescription for a condition. To achieve this, researchers collect patient-specific information such as demographics and symptoms as well as physician behaviors that include disgnosis and prescription writing.
This pairing of actual patient attributes to real physician behaviors is often much more revealing than examining only physician perceptions of, say, brand attributes. A quantitative patient chart study identifies the real-world drivers of physicians' brand selection, which helps brand teams identify marketing opportunities and develop brand strategy. Subsequently, many marketers want to track patient chart information over time to evaluate the impact of their efforts. This type of tracking study is described below.
Read more about quantitative patient chart studies.
Patient chart tracking studies provide an excellent source of brand-specific data, particularly when prescription data is not available or when it does not contain the information needed. In addition, a tracking study using patient charts can monitor and test the bottom-line effectiveness of a marketing strategy in the field.
One of the most pivotal decisions to be made for a patient chart tracking study is determining whether charts will be examined through a prospective or retrospective approach. A prospective methodology involves recruiting physicians to provide patient chart information about patients they are soon to see. In contrast, a retrospective approach involves recruiting physicians to pull charts for patients they have already seen.
Read more about patient chart tracking studies.