Monday, 21 May 2012

Rapid Physician Decision Making Task

”Instinct is intelligence incapable of self-consciousness.”
John Sterling, author

Mining gut instinct in pharmaceutical market research.......
In the world of healthcare, millions of life-changing decisions are made by physicians daily - which treatment pathway to follow, which drug to choose, when to switch and what to switch to? Guidelines may inform these choices but physicians, like all of us, are creatures of habit and make many of their decisions from a gut instinct, formed and reinforced by experience. As market researchers the real value of our work is in finding out the triggers for these ‘gut’ decisions – but how can we be sure we are getting their genuine decisions, and not what they feel is expected of them

This problem lay at the centre of a recent piece of research carried out by Branding Science in antifungal therapy. Here a variety of drug choices are available but decisions tend to be uniform and quickly made. We needed to determine the genuine ‘instinctive’ decision (or dare we say, prescribing habits) of physicians- but felt that traditional qualitative methods wouldn’t allow physicians the ‘time and distance’ to elicit this gut response. To do this we needed to get as near as possible to the real life prescribing environment- to get out of the interview room and into the operating room.

The Rapid Physician Decision (RPD) task.......
To combine the benefits of qualitative research with the statistical edge of quantitative research, we looked to the annals of cognitive psychology for inspiration- and the Rapid Physician Decision (RPD) task was born

This is essentially a computer-based task measuring instantaneous physician responses to a series of rapid fire questions- which are then promptly incorporated into qualitative research interviews. This allows us to contrast ‘gut’ vs. considered responses, and probe where inconsistencies arise- really getting ‘under the skin’ of the decision

RPD allows us to quantify gut instinct in situations where it really matters, like treatment decisions, message testing and logo/concept refinement. RPD is flexible enough to cater for all; whilst even technophobes can produce a basic ‘preference test’ within an hour, more confident technophiles can introduce ranking and routing elements and even measure speed of response to see just how ‘hard wired’ decision choices are. 

Please follow this blog, as in my next post, I will be showing you how it works !

The author: Ben Jones is Senior Research Executive at Branding Science. He has a special interest in digital and how research can harness new technologies to generate deeper insights.

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