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Telling the Full Story: Understanding the True Impact of Speaker Programs

October 6th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Life Sciences and Healthcare

Speaker programs are a staple of the life sciences industry; yet, for many companies, these programs do not break even. Further, the combination of the Sunshine Act and increased media attention has led to heightened scrutiny of these investments. Aside from the external pressure, commercial leads are also experiencing internal pressure to optimize speaker programs, given the high cost of events such as lunch and learns and key opinion leader (KOL) speaking forums.

Given the millions of dollars many life sciences companies allocate to these events annually, it is critical for marketing teams to understand which of these programs actually change prescribing behavior, to truly justify the investment. However, analyzing the effect of speaker programs and understanding how to improve them is complicated.

Imagine a company spending millions of dollars a year on speaker programs. When evaluating these investments, the marketing team may find that physicians who attended their speaker programs prescribe more and have higher than average prescription growth rates. Yet, many life sciences companies quickly discover an analytical flaw in their approach: the physicians who decide to attend these events are already more inclined to prescribe in the first place.

This bias makes it difficult to answer the critical question: How many scripts do physicians write because of the event? Without knowing the answer, it is impossible for companies to accurately evaluate their investments and make the necessary shifts. Leading brands are turning to test vs. control analysis to address this challenge. By comparing the behavior of physicians who attended events—the “test group”—to a group of highly similar physicians who did not attend an event—the “control group”—they can effectively isolate the true impact of their speaker programs.

One key component of this approach is crafting an accurate control group. To do this, companies must evaluate key data sets, including:

  1. Physician traits such as specialty, market, and tenure
  2. Physician exposure to commercial activities such as NPP, details, and sampling
  3. Longitudinal KPIs such as historical TRx and market share for their brand and competitors

By combining all relevant data into one central repository, organizations can quickly achieve a holistic view of the test and control groups, enabling them to develop a more accurate understanding of speaker program ROI. However, identifying overall increases in TRx alone never tells the full story; more granular insights are required to truly refine and optimize the program for improved results. Taking their analysis even deeper, companies should segment the overall results by dimensions such as the event type, day of week, and time of day to unlock actionable insights and inform future speaker program investments.

This test vs. control methodology enables life sciences organizations to not only measure ROI more accurately, but also to drill down into the findings to optimize their investments. By removing all traces of bias in the analysis, ensuring the test and control groups match on key metrics, and segmenting the overall results, brands can maximize the overall impact of their speaker programs.

The industry is changing fast, and so are physicians’ reactions to events and other outreach. Speaker program success can also be affected by other factors, including the drug’s therapeutic area, lifecycle stage, KOL presence, and more. Continually testing and optimizing these programs is critical to maximize returns.

 

 

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