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Market Research Insights: How to Get the Data You Need from Payer Decision Makers

By Autumn Bowman

Market access research leverages the knowledge of influential members of payer organizations to illuminate existing and potential barriers to access. Payer decision makers can provide invaluable insights into a payer’s preferences, purchasing behaviors, and trends, as well as regulatory and policy issues that may need to be addressed.

Manufacturers’ market access teams can optimize access for their products by conducting market research that helps them better understand how therapy evaluation and coverage determinations are made. By making this research process valuable, relevant, and accessible for the payer decision makers who participate, manufacturers can gain sound insights and nurture a mutually beneficial relationship.

Who are payer decision makers?

The foundation of meaningful market access research is asking the right questions to the right people. Payer decision makers have a few key characteristics. Preferably, they must sit on the pharmaceutical and therapeutics (P&T) committee of their payer organization, meaning they have an explicit vote in the formulary placement of new therapies and agents. Or, if they aren’t on the committee, they must have influence within the P&T decision-making process.

Next, they must be experienced and active subject matter experts—not retirees. And finally, they must interact with pharmaceutical manufacturer representatives and participate in their organization’s policy development.

What do they value in their market research experience?

To obtain worthwhile results, researchers must first understand what these decision makers find valuable about the experience of participating in market research. MMIT’s Zitter Insights panel consists of more than 500 experts from both payers and IDNs. The panel’s most recent Panelist Satisfaction Survey, conducted in 2023, offers insights into this influential population.

Survey respondents included a significant percentage (40%) of panelists who are members of payer organizations with top 20 commercial influence (N=21/52); nearly one in four respondents met with pharmaceutical manufacturers more than 10 times a month. Within this population, the largest reported value of participating in such research is learning.

Numerous respondents expressed an interest in learning more about the industry, and more than two-thirds (70%) were interested in seeing the final data insights from surveys they had participated in. Many commented that they participate to “keep a pulse on industry trends,” “flex clinical knowledge” and “see what topics are of interest currently in the larger community.” Topics of highest interest include comparative or head-to-head data and health economics or cost effectiveness. Other interests include learning about upcoming drugs and hearing the perspectives of their colleagues.

What are the keys to their participation?

For payer decision makers, simplicity and flexibility are the most prominent motivators. As they have extremely little time to spare, these experts need to be able to complete research on their own time. One respondent noted they typically complete surveys around 3 a.m., as that is the only time that fits into their schedule. Almost half (45%) of respondents said that a shorter or simpler survey would encourage them to complete more surveys.

For this population, keeping research manageable and easy to complete is a more powerful driving force than monetary compensation. To make market access research as attractive and accessible as possible for this demographic, follow these recommendations:

Keep surveys to a 20-minute maximum. The most influential members of this community are in a time deficit. 84% of respondents say their ideal survey takes between 5 and 20 minutes to complete. Other sources support this finding, with Survey Monkey noting that “the more questions you ask, the less time your respondents spend, on average, answering each question.” Research service Kantar concurs, stating that online survey creators may miss their chance to capture a participant’s full attention after 10-12 minutes.

Diversify the types of research you conduct. Though 78% of our Panelist Satisfaction Survey respondents prefer quantitative studies over qualitative studies, this can be attributed to lack of time. Interviews with these experts provide insights that could never be captured by a survey. One respondent shared that in-depth interviews enable “connected engagement and back-and-forth interaction,” which “provides more valuable feedback and is less restrictive in responses than being forced within a survey infrastructure.”

Maximize your influence in the digital sphere. Use any in-person time wisely and keep face-to-face conversations or video calls to a maximum of 40 minutes. While most payers prefer to discuss contracting in person, most other data questions can be delivered virtually. Emails and texts are preferrable both for scheduling pharmaceutical manufacturer meetings as well as for disseminating market access information afterwards.

How can you optimize the value of your research data?

Getting the most value out of your market access research begins with keeping surveys short. First, separate your critical business questions into two categories: what you really need to know and what would be merely nice to know. Focus on asking need-to-know questions and allow the nice-to-know information to come up naturally in participants’ responses.

Prioritize the most important questions at the beginning of a survey, as this is when attention is the highest. In a perfect world, research respondents would have unlimited time to devote to research activities. In reality, however, they are completing these surveys after working a full-time job all day. A ten-minute, hard-hitting survey will yield much better data than one with an hour’s run time, which includes unnecessary or repetitive questions. Most importantly, the respondents will feel their time was respected—which will increase their likelihood of participating in future research.

For in-person meetings, make sure to leverage interactive learning. Payer decision makers often look forward to manufacturer meetings, as they know they’ll gain a deeper understanding of the therapeutic space. View this process as interactive and reciprocal. Include an overview of the existing landscape with engaging data points. Highlight how your product fits into the existing landscape, and make sure to explain the factors that differentiate your therapy from its competitors. These participants are interested in research being an interactive process, so build in ample time for Q&A at the end of any session.

Overall, market access research panelists play a crucial role in helping pharmaceutical companies develop successful market entry strategies. By understanding the motivations of payer decision makers, manufacturers can design thoughtful market research activities to improve their market access and increase revenue potential.

Learn how MMIT’s Message Monitor solution can reveal payer and IDN reactions to your brand messaging. For on-the-fly payer responses to custom queries, check out MMIT’s Engage solution.

Special thanks to Seamus Cole, Linda Dordevic, Katherine Dodier, Meghan Saeli, Suzi Singh, Ana Sanchez, Kayli Kopil, and Woanjun Lee for their assistance with this article.

© 2024 MMIT
Autumn Bowman

Autumn Bowman

Autumn Bowman is a Panel Coordinator on MMIT’s Panel Team.

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