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Why you need to consider virtual patient insights

Collecting patient insights is something you should already be actively doing as part of your clinical research. But can you be collecting your insights more effectively?

If you aren’t already utilising online platforms in your patient insight strategies, then you probably can. To help you understand more about using an online platform, here are the whowhatwhere, and why’s of virtual patient insights:

What are virtual patient insights?

Many companies will gather patient insights through face-to-face contact, in scenarios like small focus groups. But while this method has it’s time and place to be beneficial, your patient insights will always be limited to those patients that have the time during the day to meet with you. Unfortunately, not everybody has that time. There will be patients that work long hours, have caregiver responsibilities, or have such severe symptoms that they‘re physically unable to meet with you. Because your methods were inaccessible, their voices will go unheard in your insights. This has a simple remedy: go online.

Patient groups form online support communities naturally. Both patients and their caregivers can be found here, sharing their thoughts, opinions and experiences. These are the groups that you should be talking to and gathering your insights from.

Now we know what they are, why are they useful to you?

Patient insights give you the opportunity to find out which parts of your clinical study they feel are beneficial and which parts make sense, and can help you identify parts they wouldn’t want to do. In comparison to in-person methods, collecting your insights virtually can have some big benefits:

  1. You can conduct research for a longer period of time, with greater flexibility — With online communities, you can talk to the same pool of patients for a longer period of time, such as mobile ethnography studies This means you can gather insights across their entire patient journey, giving insight into every phase of a drug lifecycle. And, your questions can evolve over time too, giving you greater flexibility.
  2. You can gain deeper, more accurate, and more honest responses — Normal methods of getting insights often has time restraints; phones calls, for example, may only last 15 minutes. But when you give the patients an opportunity to think on a question, they can apply a deeper level of thought. Which, in turn, will give you deeper insights.
  3. You can access more diverse and representative patient populations — These days, so many people from across the world are online. And without being bound by geographical limitations, this gives you the opportunity to reach more patients and access opinions from a more diverse and representative population.
  4. You can reach a wide range of people, cost effectively — Using online platforms can be a cost-effective method of collecting insights too. If that hasn’t persuaded you, I don’t know what will.

Who are the people you should try and contact?

Predominantly, of course you should be talking to patients who have the disease you are looking to recruit for your clinical trial, but you can also consider contacting caregivers too. Caregivers may be able to give you great insights into what it’s like to care for someone with a certain disease, and what difficulties are associated with that type of care.

Where are the best places to get virtual patient insights?

After all of this information, there’s probably one question you still want the answer to. Where do you get virtual patient insights?

It may be easiest to start with social media listening. This way, you can get a feel for the language patients use, and uncover any potential issues patients face that you haven’t yet considered. Then, you can base your strategy for online communities on these insights.

The social listening aspect enables you to engage with patients in a relatable manner, whilst also ensuring you’re covering all of your bases. Then, you can move onto online research communities, and begin to gather deeper insights for your study.

If you want to learn more about gaining patient insights, come and speak to us via email at, we’d love to hear from you.

This blog was originally published here.

17th March 2021



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COUCH Health

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