Thursday, July 06, 2006

Innovation Retention

I know a lot of people who attend focus groups on a regular basis. They have told me that in one hour they can make anywhere from $60 to $125 for sharing their opinions about beverages, CD label-making kits, or credit cards. Whether they use that money for rent or for dinner, they like the fast, easy cash. This type of quick fix is ok for the participant and maybe even the consumer goods client hosting the focus group.

But contrast that with the needs of pharmaceutical-biotech companies who are sponsoring clinical trials, and you see the needs for client retention strategies are very high. These patients need more than quick cash since they have to complete a more lengthy study. They need trust, recognition, and support. They need to be kept informed, shown that their values matter, and rewarded for their initiative.

Sound familiar? These are the exact things employees want from their bosses. In the workplace, compensation is very important, but when it comes to long-term employee happiness, loyalty, and retention—well, it takes more than money.

Anna LeGoff and Liz Moench share their research in an article “Patient Retention and the Power of Praise” in PharmaVoice.

“Employees thrive, are motivated, and stick around longer when they are recognized for a job well done; the same goes for patients,” the article says. And it lists these 10 ideas:

1.) Full appreciation for returning for study visits and following study instructions directly expressed by the physician investigator as well as the study coordinator.
2.) Learning opportunities about their condition and other relevant information that can help them manage their healthcare.
3.) Decision-making authority and autonomy--providing patients with the knowledge that study participation is their decision and choice.
4.) Flexible visit schedule (within the boundaries of the clinical protocol) to accomodate patients' schedules.
5.) Being kept informed about the study--how many patients are participating in the United States and in the world; how many studies have been conducted; the importance of the study and their participation.
6.) Providing feedback, making study participants feel that their opinion counts.
7.) Having a sense that their study participation is meaningful and they are making a difference.
8.) Feeling part of a study team with great people.
9.) A caring study coordinator who provides constructive feedback.
10.) Fair pay and compensation for participation.

While not all business have gotten this down yet, many have. So, pharmaceutical companies are incorporating the best practices of this model into their strategies for motivating patients to complete their studies. As in anything, it’s keeping people interested in your brand – and even creating what we call an Evangelist Effect to share their happiness with others – that will lead to success.

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