The appreciation is nice, but advancing their voice-and acting on their experiences-is what HCPs want the most, reports find.
The novel coronavirus has shown physicians at their finest. They are worthy of every bit of praise, respect, and thanks being given them now. Yet, physicians could use something more powerful than thanks. Doctors want to be heard and need us to act on their voice.
InCrowd was early to capture and bring forward the authentic voice of healthcare professionals (HCPs). Between January and May, the company performed six waves of COVID-19 physician research, two among high-need US patients, and one with nurses. In quantifying US physician perceptions, InCrowd reports examined sentiment on the healthcare system’s readiness for the pandemic and respondents’ personal experience with it, including their thoughts on reopening.
The pandemic is affecting physicians with greater intensity and personal risk, combined with a need to change their delivery and care models. Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have meant that 70% of frontline-treating physicians in March and 66% in April were concerned for their personal safety, while 78% were concerned for the safety of loved ones in both months. Even now, one in 10 doctors report living separately from his or her family to ensure at-risk loved ones are protected from exposure to illness.
For many, rescheduled procedures and appointments have hit their business hard. More than 40% of frontline-treating physicians surveyed by InCrowd in both April and May indicate fear for the loss of their jobs.
Yet, despite this backdrop, 97% of the 263 frontline-treating physician respondents in March said they wanted to continue receiving and participating in market research microsurveys. Respondents included emergency room and critical care specialists, primary care physicians (PCPs), and pediatricians-groups that arguably face the greatest time demands and stress from COVID-19. When asked why, at a time when so much was being demanded of them, multiple responses reiterated one ER doctor’s plaintive remark: “I want my voice heard.”
InCrowd’s COVID-19 physician data offers the four following calls to action for the pharmaceutical industry:
1) Pharma leaders must listen closely to doctors. Hear how they are coping with evolving pandemic challenges and how they are continuing to adapt to a future care delivery environment. To ensure their valuable feedback continues, the industry must align to meet physicians where they are now and will be tomorrow.
2) We must adjust to new point-of-care realities. The data suggests that telehealth is here to stay, with 77% of frontline-treating physicians in mid-April saying they expect telehealth use to remain after COVID-19, and 69% of high-needs patients reporting in May they are using telehealth services to meet with their physicians. Clinicians wearing PPE around patients (29%), increased phone and front-of-office triage, and one-swab and drive through testing will make the care process different.
3) We must rethink demands on their time. Respondents to InCrowd’s COVID-19 reports emphasized the importance of conducting insights gathering in a non-intrusive way, with 97% preferring short online mobile surveys that are suitable for on-the-go response. Given the virtual world of the past few months-particularly as doctors and patients transition to telehealth-expectations for technology to mitigate physicians’ demands will likely increase post-pandemic.
4) We must support physicians seeking balance. It seems like only yesterday that the healthcare system was concerned over physician burnout-at nearly 80% among PCPs as of mid-2019. As physicians juggle harsh personal/family safety and business considerations against a duty to provide care, verbatim remarks suggest increased responsibilities at work due to resource, funding, and staff shortages as acuity increases, may create even more challenges to achieving work/life balance. Fortunately, COVID-19 data show 15% of frontline-treating physicians plan to spend more time with family and friends after the crisis subsides, the second-most cited change to their personal life, behind more hygiene and handwashing.
Physician feedback is vital to the drug development and commercialization process. By accommodating the physician’s new normal, industry professionals can better assure an ongoing dialogue with those most critical to their mission.
Daniel S. Fitzgerald is CEO and president of InCrowd