To build consensus among a group of experts, life science organizations sometimes use the Delphi method, in which experts respond to multiple rounds of questions, with answers aggregated and shared after each round. The method tends to produce feedback unaffected by bias or influence, with each expert having equal time to fully contribute their unique perspective. In the case of one medical affairs team, a virtual Delphi panel was the perfect way to get to the heart of an important issue – improving the screening process for patients who might have a rare disease.
A traditional approach, transformed by technology
The Delphi method – prized for its reliance on taking all opinions and experience into account, rather than just the loudest voices – is a nearly perfect use case for asynchronous collaboration. Gathering HCP insights in a virtual environment can also shorten the duration of a Delphi panel exercise, because all of the interaction takes place in a single virtual venue, without the use of multiple email chains or disconnected online survey tools that aren’t designed for life science work.
When a medical affairs team wanted to define the screening process for patients suspected of having a rare disease, they engaged a group of cardiologists to provide feedback on current screening practices and come to an agreement on an approved patient pathway that would improve early detection, diagnosis, management, and treatment of patients. Rather than a traditional virtual advisory board, the medical affairs team settled on a virtual Delphi panel that would take place entirely in an asynchronous virtual platform. This was a benefit to the participating cardiologists, too – although they were located close enough to gather in person, doing so would have required too much time away from their clinical practice and patients.
Shortening timelines to benefit patients
The advantages of the Delphi method were only enhanced by shifting to the asynchronous virtual platform – the cardiologists weren’t required to travel, pre-recorded training on how to use the platform was available on-demand, and various question types were used to provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback to the medical affairs team. But the real value in the approach was the potential impact for patients. Because the Delphi panel was completed in less than one month, patients may benefit from early detection of a progressive rare disease, potentially improving quality of life as they treat and manage their condition.
In getting to the heart of why life science teams seek out expert insights – reducing the time required to improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease – virtual engagement enables medical affairs organizations to meet their business objectives while prioritizing a patient focus and better health outcomes.