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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

Why LDA Research Goes the Extra Mile to Locate Rare Disease Specialists

Why LDA Research Goes the Extra Mile to Locate Rare Disease Specialists

The Challenge of Rare Disease Research

We’ve always been a medical marketing agency that ‘loves a challenge’. It’s this tenacious streak in our makeup that has shaped the work we do, and the clients we attract. Over the past decade LDA Research has consistently risen to the challenge of finding and enlisting doctors and specialist nurses who treat rare and low incidence diseases. Think of us as the Sherlock Holmes branch of the medical market research sector.


Why are Rare Disease Clinicians Hard to Find?

Clinicians working with ‘rare’ diseases are fewer in number, and their work is likely to fly under the radar. For this reason alone, locating them requires detailed and careful research. Many fieldwork companies prefer to work with clinicians already available to them via their panels. These typically favour high incidence conditions such as diabetes, or asthma, for example. LDA Research is different; we commit to putting in the time and legwork to find rare disease specialists.

Researching Hard-to-Access Healthcare Professionals

We will often begin by approaching charities to help us to locate clinicians working with specific diseases, alongside secondary research which will enable us to identify specialist treatment centres and key opinion leaders. This painstaking work eventually allows us to review the output of specialists working in a particular field, in order to find potential participants who fit our profile requirements. As we get to know and work with doctors and specialist nurses for a disease type, they may suggest other people we might want to contact.

Our Rare and Low Incidence Disease Research

Medical market research carried out in the past 12 months includes:

  • Cystic Fybrosis – researching the impact of COVID-19 on its treatment (UK).
  • Cystinosis – message testing (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).
  • Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) – Research into the future treatment landscape for this disease in order to target product profile (Canada, China, Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain).
  • Myelofibrosis – Detail aid testing (Republic of Ireland, UK).
  • Narcolepsy – Patient support programme (UK).
  • Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 1 (PH1) – Researching the treatment pathway for this disease and the range of patient support required (France, Germany, UK).
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) – novel therapeutic options (UK).
  • Surgical Robots – testing a new product concept (US, UK and Germany).
  • Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) – message testing with VWD treating physicians (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain).

The Impact of Rare Disease Research

The numbers of specialists working on rare disease types may be small, but the cumulative population is significant in terms of research. Without the insights that these healthcare professionals are able to provide, the perspective they represent would be unavailable to pharma providers.

Working with rare disease specialists allows us to fill in critical knowledge gaps for our clients. We may be assessing doctors’ openness to new kinds of treatment, or discovering new kinds of questions that we should be asking about a particular disease. The work we do ensures that insights that might otherwise be missed, are accessed and used to support patients.


LDA Research team are experts when it comes to locating hard-to-reach healthcare professionals for participation in medical market research. Give us a call to find out more – 01525 861436