Hot Topics in Radiology

Hot Topics in Radiology

Hot Topics in Radiology Medical Marketing Research

Radiology is not only a powerful diagnostic tool, it’s also an integral component in disease management. Through the use of X-rays, MRI, ultrasound or CT scans, healthcare professionals receive detailed data relating to bodily structure. This information allows for the early detection, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment for diseases and injuries.

Radiology is key, therefore, to effective healthcare, which means that the medical market research team at LDA Research regularly gets to work on new developments in the field. It’s a specialist area that tends to attract high levels of investment, and the current hot topics in radiology we’re seeing are focused on increased accuracy, optimisation of workflow and service enhancement for patients.

Here are 3 radiology projects that LDA Research has worked on recently:

Extremity MRI Scanners (US)

Traditional full-body MRI machines require the patient to lie inside the equipment, very still, whilst radio waves and a strong magnetic field create detailed images of body tissue and internal structures. By contrast, extremity MRI scanners are designed to take images of  just the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, hands, or feet.

Radiologists are aware of the concerns some patients have when confronted with a full-body MRI machine; one of our respondents commented on the extremity scanner:

“Very nice. Looks comfortable. You know, having seen this, there may be a market for people have real bad claustrophobia.” – US Radiologist

Extremity scanners are designed to be used at free standing clinics, imaging centres and orthopaedic clinics. Once the smaller MRI machines were demonstrated to radiologists, many of them expressed a distinct interest in providing this kind of service to patients, particularly those who may have problems with using the larger machine.

Radiology AI Solutions (US & UK)

“AI seems to be coming in at all angles in my industry … I can only see the benefits … it seems to be when you look at the sort of mistakes or the misdiagnosis, human-wise, this I think takes a lot of that away, which is only an advantage.”US Radiologist

Radiology is particularly well suited to the implementation of AI tools. AI algorithms facilitate the automation of repetitive tasks, which streamlines the workflow and tends to be an attractive proposition for radiologists. There is also huge potential for use of AI in clinical applications such as the identification of sight-threatening eye-conditions at speed, or picking up abnormalities in a CT scan.

“I really think that this would help and mean that it would cut down on the radiologists’ work at night.  And also, you can still look at what the AI algorithms have come up with.  And I don’t think it will mean a lack of, a loss of skill with the doctors, cause we’re still looking at X-rays as well.”UK Radiologist

Integrated 3D Imaging (US & UK)

Advancements in 3D printing are now providing surgeons and cardiologists with the opportunity to use 3D models for the diagnosis and management of patients with congenital heart defects. 3D modelling offers a range of benefits, including the potential for improved surgical outcomes, increased procedural efficiency and a reduction in radiation exposure.

The NHS is currently using Heartflow Cardiac Testing for diagnosis and treatment of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). HeartFlow analysis offers a non-invasive cardiac test resulting in a colour-coded 3D model of the coronary arteries. This provides detailed information about constrictions and blockages, and their impact on the blood flow to the heart.

Working With LDA Research

LDA Research is a medical market research provider. Set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA team can be your eyes and ears wherever you need to be. From local culture to regulation and reimbursement, we can be relied upon to find the appropriate specialists for your requirements.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

Developing Sustainable Healthcare in the UK

Developing Sustainable Healthcare in the UK

A recent article in the Royal College of Surgeons Bulletin begins by reminding fellow surgeons that a single operation can produce “up to 814kg of CO2, the same as driving up to 2,273 miles in an average petrol car.”

Feature Interview With Research Executive MRS Apprentice Fatima Mitha

Feature Interview With Fatima Mitha

On 16th February 2022, the Market Research Society launched the Level 4 Market Research Executive Apprenticeship programme which is run by Swarm Training. Designed in collaboration with, amongst others, Ipsos, Disney, Channel 4

AI in Healthcare

AI in Healthcare

AI in Healthcare Research and Practice

Data and AI is one of the UK Government’s ‘Grand Challenges’ missions. It wants the UK to “Use data, Artificial Intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030”

Whilst the paradigm shift AI represents for healthcare research is not in doubt, the current consensus is that the best is still to come. The uses of Artificial Intelligence in a healthcare setting right now tend to be limited to “learning from patterns in the information the computer has used to learn, and therefore execute tasks”. In recent interviews carried out by LDA Research moderators, AI was not considered to be comparable, let alone a threat, to the accrued knowledge and experience of HCPs:

“I think AI, one of the things it could relieve me of are sort of tedious tasks that I have to do where I don’t add a whole lot of value, but I still need to do. It’s similar to lab tests that are commonly done, there’s not a laboratory physician sitting in the laboratory doing handheld blood counts, they’re done by an automated machine.”  – US Radiologist

One interviewee felt that more AI technology may occasion the need for more HCPs to oversee it:

“One or two politicians seem to think that AI will solve radiology manpower shortages, and I think that’s an interesting point of view. I think it’s more likely that you will require more radiologists once you get more technology. You very often need more checks, more methods of interpretation, to make sure you get the right answer.” – UK Radiologist

Current Uses of AI in Healthcare

Uses of AI technology in the UK are presently focused on automating time-consuming tasks in order to free up more time for HCPs to spend with their patients or improving their outcomes.

3 examples of AI in action demonstrate this:

  1. HeartFlow Cardiac Testing. The NHS is using this visualisation tech in place of angiograms. CT scans are used to create a 3D model of the heart with blood flowing around it. Doctors are able to see where blockages are disrupting the blood flow.
  2. DeepMind at Moorfields Eye Hospital. AI technology that identifies sight-threatening eye conditions at speed and is able to rank patients so that those in most urgent need are seen first.
  3. InnerEye Scan Processing. Used at Addenbrookes in Cambridge to speed up prostate cancer treatment. The AI scans images, outlines the prostate on the image, highlights tumours and presents a report.

Future Uses of AI in Healthcare Research

“The reality with AI is that once you’ve trained it, it should get better and better and better. That’s the way AI works.  And so, how quickly do you adopt this?” UK Radiologist

The advantage AI has over the human brain is that it is able to observe and process vast amounts of data, whilst continuously improving the degree of accuracy with which it correlates learnt information. One area in which this is considered to be a game-changer is clinical research.

Recruiting for clinical trials is a costly activity, and AI solutions that minimise the cost are to be welcomed. Machine learning algorithms are being developed that can help researchers to recruit suitable candidates for trials by correlating and processing diverse data drawn from, for example, GP records, genetic information, and social media activity. This saves a huge amount of time and has the potential to deliver highly accurate results.

AI is also being developed that allows researchers to monitor participants more closely throughout trials. Real-time data access means that any adverse reactions, or biological changes can be picked up more quickly and dealt with swiftly.

The Challenges for AI in a Healthcare Setting

We are in the very early stages of AI adoption, and as the uses to which it can be put increase in their sophistication, so will the obstacles that need to be overcome:

  • Transparency. This will need to be built into all AI applications, especially where medical procedures or products are being recommended. Doctors need to be able to see why a specific course of treatment is chosen.
  • Privacy. There is huge public concern about private health data being accessed and used without permission. This makes accessing patient data difficult and time-consuming at present.
  • Regulation. AI tech being developed for use in the European Economic Area (EEA) has to apply for a CE marking. It also has to meet the requirements of the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR).

About LDA Research

LDA Research is a medical market research provider. Set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA team can be your eyes and ears wherever you need to be. From local culture to regulation and reimbursement, we can be relied upon to find the appropriate specialists for your requirements.

Would you like to speak to someone at LDA Research about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

The Patient’s Perspective – 4 Approaches to Patient-Centric Research

The Patient’s Perspective – 4 Approaches to Patient-Centric Research

In what ways does your condition impact your daily life? Do you have any difficulties taking the medication you’ve been prescribed? These types of questions are gaining increasing importance as health research…

Why Is It So Difficult To See a Doctor?

Why Is It So Difficult To See a Doctor?

Despite consistently high numbers of confirmed cases across the UK, life has been getting back to normal over the past few months. Shops, pubs and restaurants are open once more, and thriving. Public transport is creeping back to pre-pandemic levels, and cities are…

Healthcare IT System Integration Research

Healthcare IT System Integration Research

Medical market research has traditionally concerned itself primarily with clinicians, nurses, patients, pharmacists and medical reps. More recently, though, LDA Research has extended its focus to include an additional professional sector within the healthcare context. It’s one that’s made up of a vast array of roles including IT infrastructure engineers, CIOs and CMIOs. The size of the team involved reflects the growing importance of IT system integration as a key component of health care improvements.

What is IT System Integration?

The NHS is in the process of integrating IT into its primary care practices. This requires complex system integration  in order to co-ordinate and share patient information across all applications in the health care sector. Secure use and sharing of Electronic Medical Records (ERM) has the potential to improve cost effectiveness, whilst enhancing the quality of care on offer.

The proven benefits of IT system integration are:

  • Complete, accurate information for HCPs, whatever the context.
  • Enhanced co-ordination of care, especially where the patients are suffering from complex medical conditions.
  • The potential for information sharing between HCPs and family carers.
  • Rapid and accurate diagnosis of health conditions.

What Does IT System Integration Research Involve?

As with every IT system, the architecture will only be as good as the knowledge upon which it is built. LDA Research is, therefore, involved in developing that knowledge via its database of specialist IT respondents in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. There are 4 distinct, but intersecting areas of research:

  1. Data Privacy. Given the sensitivity of the ERM data, the input of CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) is critical. Together they are responsible for the security of patients’ data, efficient adoption of new systems, and the perception of IT within the NHS culture.
  2. Network Infrastructure Engineers. Knowledge of how the current NHS IT infrastructure works is held by the engineers who support and maintain them. They know where systems are working, where there are challenges, and which technologies are currently being adopted, or not, within the healthcare environment.
  3. IT Users in NHS. This is a broad grouping which includes receptionists, clinicians, nurses, consultants and executives. The functions of IT will range from booking systems, to records updates, to smart technology being implemented on wards.
  4. Ambulatory Care. IT integration has huge potential benefit in this area. Ambulatory care offers same day emergency care for patients. The aim of this model is to streamline clinical processes, in order to reduce admissions and improve patient flow.

The HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM)

The integration of a hospital IT system is a complex process and it cannot be achieved overnight. The EMRAM model offers both a roadmap which hospitals can follow, and a maturity model whereby hospitals can measure their progress against global counterparts. It comprises an eight-stage (0-7) model which measures the adoption and utilisation of electronic medical record (EMR) functions, with the ultimate goal being a paperless environment.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is a qualitative medical market research provider. Founded a decade ago by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA Research team is committed to being the eyes and ears of our clients wherever they need us to be and whatever they need to know.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about IT system integration research? Call us today on 01525 861436.

DFUs for Medical Sales Reps in a Post-Lockdown Environment

DFUs for Medical Sales Reps in a Post-Lockdown Environment

The life of a pharmaceutical sales rep looks very different today from two years ago. Back then face-to-face sales meetings were standard practice across the NHS. COVID-19 and its attendant restrictions on in-person meetings put paid to this. One GP told us that reps became wary of any kind of contact with GPs during the two lockdowns:

“Our practice continued meetings with reps throughout the pandemic, though at reduced frequency. This was mainly due to reps and their companies assuming practices did not want to/did not have time to have meetings with reps during what was perceived as a busy period for the NHS.“

This perception is echoed by Ewan Crosbie, Associate Director of Silver Fern Research. Given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic, he acknowledges the need to tread carefully as Pharma reps navigate a post-pandemic course:

“The last 18 months has seen a shift from almost 100% face-to-face interactions, to nothing, before the rise of webinars and virtual 1:1 meetings via Teams/Zoom. Now the possibility of face-to-face is open again, but to what extent will this return? Pharma have invested heavily in the digital options and HCPs have become accustomed to having open access to a multitude of topics, anytime, anywhere. But, there is a very real need for face-to-face interactions.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen regarding interactions between HCPs and Pharma is how to strike the balance. How many interactions do you offer? What type of interactions? And how do you approach them? Some claim to have been bombarded by emails, whilst others feel companies have become invisible. This can be due to a rep being furloughed or having been made redundant, or simply not reaching out.”

Pharma Companies and the ‘New Normal’

COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare services and this has changed both the practice and expectations of healthcare professionals when it comes to in-person sales meetings. Research carried out by Curzon Consulting found that:

  • 60% of surgeons think that in-person sales will be restricted, even after the vaccination programme is complete and lockdown restrictions end
  • Of the 75% of physicians who opted for in-person sales prior to COVID-19, 47% stated that they would now prefer a virtual meeting or less frequent visits.

Whilst it’s clear that face-to-face meetings won’t disappear entirely, a more hybrid model is beginning to emerge. This will require adaptation on the part of healthcare professionals, the sales force, and companies like LDA Research which conducts ‘Detailed Follow Ups’ (DFUs) on behalf of pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Adapting to New Expectations

A GP we spoke to about in-person sales said that they had resumed at his practice “as we believe the personal relationship with the rep is more important than meetings showing endless slides for products that are essentially quite similar to their competitors with little difference between them.” In this case value was perceived to lie in a developed, trust-based relationship with individual reps, in contrast to the more impersonal demonstration of products via a screen.

Where personal interaction is replaced by digital interaction, ‘value’ is recognised to reside in the creation of new kinds of digital resources. These include education on remote patient care, information on medical conditions related to COVID-19, and educative content for patients in a digital format.

Working closely with pharmaceutical companies has persuaded Ewan Crosbie (Silver Fern) that the long absence of face-to-face interaction has made HCPs value their medical sales reps more than ever:

“There’s a vast array of webinars that are offering HCPs extensive educational opportunities (almost too many, they have to be quite selective) but now HCPs are ready for them to get back to doing what they were doing. Many of them are ‘Zoom fatigued’. They want some form of face-to face interaction to return, and (re)build their relationships but for it not to be overdone.”

Detailed Follow Ups Post COVID-19

LDA Research is one of a small number of medical market research companies in the UK that provides DFUs for medical device and pharmaceutical companies. We get involved once the sales reps have had meetings with healthcare professionals, and entered details of the interaction on a database. Our job is to contact people on the database in order to check their communication of the agreed messaging with reference to:

  • How the product performs against its competitors.
  • The impact of the agreed positioning on healthcare buyers.
  • Whether the full range of benefits are recognised by healthcare professionals.

DFUs have always been a painstaking, time-consuming task – which is why it’s a service many agencies don’t offer. The LDA Research team will continue to work alongside clients to adapt our practices going forward. It is likely that DFUs will evolve to include the relative impact of different communication strategies, and the perceived value attached to different kinds of digital content.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is an international qualitative research provider. Founded in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA Research team is committed to being the eyes and ears of our clients wherever they need us to be.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about sales reps monitoring DFUs? Call us today on 01525 861436.

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

Just under a year ago we wrote a blog that considered the UK-wide implementation of GP remote consultations, and its impact on the experience of patients. Since writing that we’ve had two further ‘lockdown’ periods and are currently coping with the Delta Variant. As the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the LDA Research team thought it an appropriate moment to revisit the use of technology for patient consultations.

We asked a range of patients how they have coped with GP remote consultations over the past few months. Based on their responses, we’ve come up 3 considerations that are likely to be key to their ongoing application for local GP surgeries.

The Rapid Implementation of Remote Consultations

In 2020 the avoidance of face-to-face contact between patients and HCPs became an integral part of the UK’s attempt to contain coronavirus. The implementation of technology-facilitated consultations was one of the most extensive and rapid reforms undertaken by the NHS since its inception. The success of the operation was even more impressive given that it involved a significant change in the relationship between doctors and their patients.

Technologies Used by NHS Patients During 1st Lockdown.

YouGov research carried out in October 2020 showed that the most common experience of remote consultations was by phone. The use of video consultations occurred via askmyGP software which was being trialled in a number of GP practices prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. Where the software was originally in use, adoption of video consultations dipped in March 2020, before returning to 2019 averages. Telephone consultations, however, increased by 12% as did online messaging.

Patient Responses to Tech-Based GP Consultations

For the public, the rapid roll-out of tech solutions in the NHS represented emergency measures taken in a national crisis situation. The fact that medical services were maintained under these conditions garnered widespread approval. Younger people in particular reported a positive experience:

22-year-old, no serious health conditions

“I don’t frequently attend the doctors, and as I have no serious illnesses/concerns I don’t have a problem with having a virtual consultation, for the most part. If I think back to when I did used to go to the doctors pre-covid it’s only ever been a quick chat that could’ve been done over the phone, so I think it’s convenient. Especially if it’s during the week when you’re working, you can just wait for the phone call instead of having to make the trip and then enduring the waiting times. I think it’s more time convenient.

However, I think I would like the option, depending on the nature of the issue. If it’s something that I would physically want them to see or check I would want to go in but if it’s something where I can just talk about my symptoms, I would happily do that over the phone/video.

For example, I recently had a change with a mole and wanted to get it checked but I was just asked to send a picture of it. I had a slight worry that it may not be the most effective method and I thought is sending across a picture enough?”

Where patients had an ongoing relationship with a GP practice, perhaps due to health problems over a period of time, responses tended to be positive. Trusting relationships with HCPs are difficult to nurture via a video screen or telephone, so relationships developed in person, and then maintained in a hybrid form (where restrictions allow), are considered a productive use of technology.

48-year-old woman with long-standing, complex and serious health problem

“I’m lucky with my GP and my consultants – I think that the fact that they know me well and that I have a healthcare background helps a lot with communication. I find our current system with my GP very easy to use and it allows me to fit medical consultations around work.

At my practice, you fill in an online form outlining what you need and that is then reviewed by the doctor. You can request an appointment also through the portal. Recently I had a lump on my hand that I was worried about as I am at high risk of skin cancer because of previous ciclosporin use. I was able to describe the problem and upload a picture. The GP called me back the next day and invited me to pop down to see him. So I got a face-to-face appointment within 30 minutes and also a referral to my dermatologist.

However, I appreciate that this system works best for people who are happy to use an online portal.”

Half of patients over 55 who accessed GP services via telephone or video felt that their experience offered a reduction in value when compared with pre-COVID-19 healthcare. This could be to do with older patients feeling less confident when using a smartphone, or laptop. Alternatively, patients over 55 are likely to have a number of health concerns they want to deal with, and a phone call may not be the appropriate way to manage them.

80 year old patient with multiple co-morbidities

“It has been really hard to access GP services over the last year and I feel a bit like I’ve been left to struggle on my own. Its almost impossible to get an appointment with a doctor and when I do get one it’s a phone call. It’s really hard to get the right help over the phone. I find it easy to forget what the doctor has said, also its hard for me to be prepared with what I want to say because they can phone at any time, this can be quite stressful. Sometimes I can be waiting for hours to receive a call.

If I am in pain or worried about something happening to me its hard to deal with. I would prefer to see the same doctor face to face, I have a mixture of health problems and they all effect each other, when we talk over the phone they only look at one thing, they also can’t really see how I am, which I think is important.

I need someone to see me and talk to me as a whole person and address these problems more holistically, which really can only be done face to face. I would also like to have a set appointment so I can bring someone with me and they can listen to what the doctor says also in case I forget something, I can’t do this if it’s a phone call.”

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

Throughout the first UK lock-down, demands for appointments dropped and then rose again in the summer 2020. A year on, society is ‘learning to live with COVID’ and the demand for appointments is threatening to overwhelm GP practices.

In the context of COVID-19 vaccines, NHS England has recently offered new guidance to to GPs. It requires them to provide face-to-face appointments if patients state a preference. Remote consultations should be maintained and recommended “where patients find benefit in them”. Given that we are currently negotiating a new relationship with our GP practices, it may be helpful to consider:

1. Patients and HCPs need to collaborate in identifying the ‘benefits’ of remote consultations

Introducing technology as an emergency measure is very different from embedding it in communities as a standard way of accessing your GP. Consultation between GPs and patients would help to shift the cultural acceptance of this new form of access.

2. Not everyone has access to digital technology, or a safe space at home

We currently know very little about the impact a tech-first approach to healthcare has had upon poor and vulnerable communities with no access to the equipment or space needed for a remote consultation.

3. Think about the shift from crisis to ‘the new normal’.

As the national emergency starts to recede, surgeries have a cultural job to do in persuading patients that tech is good for normal life as well as lock-down life. This may require conversations about the best mix of online and face-to-face experiences for patients who will need to access GP services regularly.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is an international qualitative research provider. Set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associate. The LDA team can be your eyes and ears wherever you need to be. From local culture to regulation and reimbursement, we can be relied upon to find the appropriate specialists for your requirements.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

Who Administers Wound Care? - An International Guide

Who Administers Wound Care? – An International Guide

In an ageing population, such as that of the UK, wound care is a critical issue because of the burden it places on patients, carers and healthcare providers. “As obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and an ageing population all increase,