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TGA stakeholder survey 2018

20 December 2018

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Communications, information and contact with the TGA

Communication and information services - Use

For the range of potential contact methods presented, the TGA website represents the most common channel in all stakeholder groups (Table 10). Less than 2% of respondents to the question highlight that they Never use the TGA website, with just under one in five saying they use the site 'All the time'. Similarly, the business services website is also a commonly used channel, with more than 9 in 10 responses highlighting some use.

Other common information channels include Email subscription services (79% any use; 31% use All of the time or Often), the Consultation forecast (54% any use) and TGA roadshows, information sessions and conference booths (58% any use). The RSS feed and Twitter services are less commonly used, however 35% (RSS) and 20% (Twitter) highlight some use of each service.

Table 10: Information service - Frequency of use (%)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services:
Service Never Rarely Sometimes Often All the time Any use N
TGA website 1.7 12.6 31.3 34.6 19.9 98 2110
TGA eBusiness services portal 8.6 14.7 29.6 27.8 19.3 91 2099
Email subscription information services 21.5 24.2 23.1 19 12.2 79 2098
TGA Consultation Forecast 46.4 26.7 17.1 7.5 2.3 54 2091
TGA RSS feed 65.2 22.7 8.9 2.3 0.9 35 2091
TGA Twitter 80.3 14.3 3.9 1.3 0.3 20 2089
TGA roadshows, info sessions or conf booths 42.5 23.5 23.3 8.5 2.2 58 2097

The majority of respondents in each stakeholder group use the TGA website Sometimes, Often or All the time (Table 11). Medical products industry and Government groups are the most frequent users, with around one in five of each of these groups using the site 'All the time'. Health professionals and Retailers, while showing high overall usage levels of the site, report less frequent use with a strong tendency to access Sometimes or Rarely.

Table 11: TGA Website - Frequency of use by stakeholder category (%)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services: TGA website (www.tga.gov.au)
Stakeholder group Never Rarely Sometimes Often All the time Any use N
Total 1.7 12.6 31.3 34.6 19.9 98 2110
Medical products industry 1.1 10.2 27.5 38.3 22.9 99 1437
Health professional 5.9 23.8 38.6 22.8 8.9 94 202
Retailer 1.6 28.1 39.1 23.4 7.8 98 64
Government 0 11.5 29.5 39.3 19.7 100 61
Academic 3.2 9.5 49.2 31.7 6.3 97 63
Media 0 0 50 0 50 100 2
Other, please specify 1.5 14.2 40.7 25.8 17.8 99 275
No answer 0 16.7 16.7 50 16.7 100 6

The eBusiness services portal is accessed by just over nine in ten participants. As expected, use is highest for Medical products industry stakeholders (95%) and generally lowest amongst Health professional (73%), Academic (82%) and Government (89%) stakeholders (Table 13).

Around eight in ten participants in the survey use email subscription services. Use of these services is common for the Medical products industry (82%), with Health professionals, Retailers and Academics all showing similar usage levels (at around 70%).

Retailers report the highest use of both the RSS feed (46%) and Twitter (26%). Similarly, this group reports the highest level of overall engagement with the Consultation forecast (60%), with both Medical products industry (56%) and Health professionals (48%) also showing strong engagement with this channel.

Figure 25: Information service - Frequency of use (%)
Column chart of Table 10 data

N=2,089-2,110

The levels of any use of the identified communication areas show a continued trend toward higher uptake amongst stakeholders since 2016. This trend is consistent across all areas, with notable increases since 2016 in relation to Email subscriptions, Consultation forecast, RSS feed and Twitter (Table 12).

Table 12: TGA information service - Frequency of use - 2016 - 2018 (%)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services:
Service Used resource
2018 2017 2016
TGA website 98 96 97
TGA eBusiness services portal 91 88 86
Email subscription info services 79 68 64
TGA Consultation Forecast 54 40 36
TGA RSS feed 35 24 22
TGA Twitter 20 11 9
TGA roadshows 58 29 30
TGA information sessions 48 47
TGA conference booth 25 24

Note: Changes to the question response frame between 2017 and 2018 make comparisons unreliable. Frame moved from specific use levels (e.g. weekly) to 'Never-All the time'.

Table 13: Service use by Stakeholder category (% any use)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services:
Service Med prod's ind Health pro Retailer Govt. Academic Media Other
TGA website 99 94 98 100 97 100 99
TGA eBusiness services portal 95 73 94 89 82 100 89
Email subscription information services 82 68 70 60 70 100 75
Consultation Forecast 56 48 60 39 40 100 50
RSS feed 36 31 46 23 25 100 32
Twitter 19 20 26 21 21 100 21
Roadshows/info sess/conf booths 62 45 46 47 44 100 52

Med prod ind: 1423-1437; Health pro: 198-202; Retailer: 61-64; Gov: 60-61; Academic: 62-63; Media: 1-2; Other: 271-275.

Amongst health professionals there is some variation in the usage patterns. In general, Complementary healthcare practitioners show the highest levels of engagement across a broad range of communication sources, including high engagement with the Website, eBS, email, Consultation forecast and RSS feed (Table 14). Engagement is generally lower amongst Nurses and Medical practitioners for both the eBS and email channels.

Medical products industry participants show universally high engagement with the Website, eBS and email subscription service. Strong growth across this sector has also been observed in relation to use of the Consultation forecast, RSS feed and Twitter channels.

Table 14: Service use - Health professionals (% any use)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services:
Service Pharmacist Medical practitioner Nurse Comp healthcare prac Dental practitioner Other
TGA website 97 93 86 97 89 95
TGA eBusiness services portal 71 49 62 87 89 83
Email subscription 68 54 45 84 89 73
Consultation Forecast 35 50 35 74 56 41
RSS feed 27 27 25 50 33 25
Twitter 29 20 25 24 11 12
Roadshows/info sess/conf booths 52 44 40 63 33 36

Pharmacist: N=30-31; Med prac: N=40-41; Nurse: N=20-21; Comp health: N=38; Dental: N=9; Other: N=59-61.

Table 15: Service use - Medical products industry (% any use)

Please indicate how much you use the following TGA services:
Service Product sponsor Product manufacturer Reg affairs consultant Ind assoc'n rep Other
TGA website 99 98 100 100 98
TGA eBusiness services portal 96 90 99 89 96
Email subscription 84 74 93 100 78
Consultation Forecast 54 58 49 74 67
RSS feed 38 33 38 67 25
Twitter 20 20 17 19 22
Roadshows/info sess/conf booths 63 55 76 56 57

Sponsor: 881-884; Manufacturer: 379-387; Reg Affairs Con: 100-101; Ind Assoc Rep: 9; Other: 48-52.

Usefulness of information

There is large variation in the perceived usefulness of the range of TGA service offerings for stakeholders (Figure 26). Most commonly, TGA guidelines (74% Very useful) and Latest news and updates (71%) are the most likely information services to be viewed as Very useful . TGA update (65%), TGA safety information (58%) and TGA eBS notices (53%) are also generally viewed as Very useful by users of these services, with very few highlighting that they are not useful. These results are generally consistent with those observed in previous years of the survey. SME assist, Medicines shortages alerts and Prescription medicine NCE registrations also continue to show lower levels of usefulness for users, with relatively high numbers of participants highlighting that these are not at all useful. These outcomes reflect the targeted focus of these service areas.

Figure 26: Usefulness of information services (%)
Bar chart - see Figure 26 in tabular format

N=701-1,947 Note: previous year included Not applicable measure

Figure 26: Usefulness of information services (%)
Service Not at all useful Moderately useful Very useful
TGA Update 2 32 65
TGA Safety information 5 37 58
TGA Consultations 7 40 52
TGA AusPAR 26 45 29
TGA Guidelines 3 23 74
TGA eBS Notices 6 40 53
Medicines Safety Update 16 40 44
Medical Devices Safety Update 12 39 49
Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons 17 39 43
SME Assist 30 45 25
Medicines Shortages Alerts 35 39 26
Prescription medicine NCE registrations 36 35 29
TGA Latest news and updates 2 27 71

N=701-1,947 Note: previous year included Not applicable measure

Tables 16-18 show variation in usefulness across major stakeholder categories. Overall, Medical products industry participants tend to view the range of information services positively, with this group commonly rating TGA update, Consultations, Guidelines eBS notices and Latest news and updates as Very useful more often than most other groupings in the survey.

Health professionals, Retailers and (to a lesser extent) Government stakeholders also show a strong tendency to find a broad range of information services useful. In the case of Health professionals, a high level of usefulness and a particularly low level of Not at all useful responses are observed in relation to Latest news and updates, TGA guidelines, TGA safety information and TGA updates. Government stakeholders and retailers show strong interest in the Guidelines as well as Safety information and the Latest news and updates.

Table 16: Usefulness of information services by stakeholder category (%)

Please indicate how useful the following information services are for you in your role:
Information service Rating Med products ind Health pro Retailer Gov Academic Media Other
TGA Update Not at all useful 2.4 2.4 2.3 0.0 2.6 0.0 0.5
Moderately useful 29.2 44.8 48.8 53.1 48.7 50.0 33.2
Very useful 68.3 52.8 48.8 46.9 48.7 50.0 66.3
TGA Safety information Not at all useful 5.5 2.4 7.3 2.9 9.8 0.0 3.9
Moderately useful 36.2 42.7 36.6 41.2 41.5 100.0 34.3
Very useful 58.3 54.8 56.1 55.9 48.8 0.0 61.9
TGA Consultations Not at all useful 7.2 9.7 7.5 0.0 8.3 0.0 4.7
Moderately useful 37.6 53.1 45.0 58.6 66.7 50.0 40.9
Very useful 55.1 37.2 47.5 41.4 25.0 50.0 54.4
TGA AusPAR Not at all useful 23.4 37.4 32.5 16.0 44.8 0.0 28.8
Moderately useful 45.8 40.0 50.0 68.0 34.5 100.0 40.4
Very useful 30.7 22.6 17.5 16.0 20.7 0.0 30.8
TGA Guidelines Not at all useful 2.2 4.0 10.2 3.8 5.3 0.0 1.2
Moderately useful 19.3 41.5 32.2 35.8 31.6 50.0 22.9
Very useful 78.4 54.5 57.6 60.4 63.2 50.0 75.9
TGA eBS Notices Not at all useful 5.5 13.3 13.2 0.0 18.9 0.0 6.3
Moderately useful 37.3 50.0 50.0 66.7 56.8 100.0 40.0
Very useful 57.2 36.7 36.8 33.3 24.3 0.0 53.7
Medicines Safety Update Not at all useful 17.0 11.9 21.6 7.1 14.7 0.0 12.9
Moderately useful 39.7 37.3 29.7 64.3 50.0 100.0 37.9
Very useful 43.3 50.8 48.6 28.6 35.3 0.0 49.3
Medical Devices Safety Update Not at all useful 11.4 10.8 13.2 6.9 22.9 0.0 14.0
Moderately useful 38.2 36.9 36.8 48.3 42.9 100.0 42.7
Very useful 50.4 52.3 50.0 44.8 34.3 0.0 43.4
Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons Not at all useful 18.2 15.5 17.8 13.2 19.1 0.0 13.2
Moderately useful 39.6 34.2 44.4 42.1 36.2 100.0 42.1
Very useful 42.2 50.3 37.8 44.7 44.7 0.0 44.7
SME Assist Not at all useful 28.5 40.6 35.6 29.2 30.0 0.0 27.7
Moderately useful 46.2 37.6 44.4 50.0 40.0 100.0 42.6
Very useful 25.3 21.8 20.0 20.8 30.0 0.0 29.7
Medicines Shortages Alerts Not at all useful 34.6 27.1 50.0 18.2 37.9 0.0 40.0
Moderately useful 40.5 35.4 31.3 63.6 37.9 0.0 35.7
Very useful 24.8 37.5 18.8 18.2 24.1 100.0 24.3
Prescription medicine NCE registrations Not at all useful 33.4 37.9 55.6 34.8 40.0 0.0 44.3
Moderately useful 34.8 38.8 30.6 47.8 43.3 100.0 32.1
Very useful 31.7 23.3 13.9 17.4 16.7 0.0 23.7
TGA Latest news and updates Not at all useful 1.6 1.7 6.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.4
Moderately useful 24.8 39.7 37.9 42.9 56.3 50.0 22.9
Very useful 73.5 58.6 55.2 57.1 43.8 50.0 74.7

Med prod ind: N=495-1345; Health pro: N=58-176; Retailer: N=29-59; Gov: N=14-53; Academic: N=16-57; Media: N=1-2; Other: N=83-249.

Within the Health professionals grouping (Table 17) interest and use of the various information products varies markedly across service areas. Consistent with 2017, Pharmacists are most positively engaged with a broad range of information channels and resources. Dental practitioners show strong engagement with Updates, Consultations and Scheduling of medicines and poisons information. Somewhat similar to Pharmacists, Nurses show strong interest in targeted information such as TGA guidelines, Medicines safety updates and Medical devices safety updates.

Medical practitioners show relatively strong interest in Medicines shortages alerts and Scheduling of medicines and poisons information and report generally moderate levels of usefulness across the range of information sources available.

Complementary healthcare practitioners, while generally less engaged with the range of information services presented, highlighted moderate levels of usefulness in relation to Safety information, Updates and Latest news and updates services.

Among Medical products industry participants, Regulatory affairs consultants report strong levels of usefulness across a broad range of information services (Table 18). This includes relatively high levels of use for Updates, Safety information, Consultations, Guidelines eBS notices, Scheduling of medicines and poisons, Prescription medicines NCE registrations and Latest news and updates.

Product sponsors and product manufacturers show similar patterns in relation to the ratings of usefulness of various information services. This includes strong usefulness ratings for Updates, Safety information, TGA guidelines, eBS notices and Latest news and updates.

Table 17: Usefulness of information services - Health professionals (%)

Please indicate how useful the following information services are for you in your role:
Information service Rating Pharmacist Medical practitioner Nurse Comp healthcare prac Dental practitioner Other
TGA Update Not at all useful 0.0 4.8 11.1 0.0 14.3 0.0
Moderately useful 47.4 52.4 44.4 45.2 14.3 45.9
Very useful 52.6 42.9 44.4 54.8 71.4 54.1
TGA Safety information Not at all useful 0.0 10.0 0.0 0.0 14.3 0.0
Moderately useful 42.1 45.0 44.4 45.2 28.6 43.2
Very useful 57.9 45.0 55.6 54.8 57.1 56.8
TGA Consultations Not at all useful 0.0 5.3 0.0 16.1 16.7 11.4
Moderately useful 62.5 63.2 83.3 45.2 0.0 54.3
Very useful 37.5 31.6 16.7 38.7 83.3 34.3
TGA AusPAR Not at all useful 22.2 37.5 42.9 40.7 20.0 45.5
Moderately useful 38.9 41.7 42.9 40.7 40.0 39.4
Very useful 38.9 20.8 14.3 18.5 40.0 15.2
TGA Guidelines Not at all useful 4.2 0.0 0.0 8.1 14.3 3.8
Moderately useful 29.2 52.6 35.3 45.9 28.6 39.6
Very useful 66.7 47.4 64.7 45.9 57.1 56.6
TGA eBS Notices Not at all useful 7.7 17.6 0.0 11.5 16.7 16.7
Moderately useful 30.8 58.8 83.3 42.3 33.3 56.7
Very useful 61.5 23.5 16.7 46.2 50.0 26.7
Medicines Safety Update Not at all useful 0.0 9.1 0.0 9.7 14.3 26.7
Moderately useful 33.3 50.0 33.3 48.4 28.6 23.3
Very useful 66.7 40.9 66.7 41.9 57.1 50.0
Medical Devices Safety Update Not at all useful 0.0 10.5 0.0 18.5 14.3 11.8
Moderately useful 26.7 42.1 37.5 44.4 28.6 32.4
Very useful 73.3 47.4 62.5 37.0 57.1 55.9
Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons Not at all useful 0.0 8.8 6.3 11.4 14.3 44.1
Moderately useful 32.1 35.3 43.8 40.0 14.3 29.4
Very useful 67.9 55.9 50.0 48.6 71.4 26.5
SME Assist Not at all useful 18.8 40.0 28.6 38.5 20.0 63.0
Moderately useful 37.5 40.0 57.1 38.5 40.0 29.6
Very useful 43.8 20.0 14.3 23.1 40.0 7.4
Medicines Shortages Alerts Not at all useful 15.8 10.0 16.7 40.9 0.0 47.8
Moderately useful 36.8 40.0 50.0 36.4 60.0 21.7
Very useful 47.4 50.0 33.3 22.7 40.0 30.4
Prescription medicine NCE registrations Not at all useful 5.3 32.1 37.5 50 0.0 63.3
Moderately useful 57.9 39.3 37.5 33.3 50.0 26.7
Very useful 36.8 28.6 25.0 16.7 50.0 10.0
TGA Latest news and updates Not at all useful 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.3 0.0 0.0
Moderately useful 14.3 60.0 80.0 36.8 66.7 21.4
Very useful 85.7 40.0 20.0 57.9 33.3 78.6

Pharmacist: N=7-28; Med prac: N=10-38; Nurse: N=5-17; Comp health: N=19-37; Dental: N=3-7; Other: N=14-53.

Table 18: Usefulness of information services - Medical products industry (%)

Please indicate how useful the following information services are for you in your role:
Information service Rating Product sponsor Product manufacturer Reg Affairs Consult Ind Assoc Other
TGA Update Not at all useful 3.0 2.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Moderately useful 28.9 35.8 20.2 0.0 14.3
Very useful 68.1 61.9 79.8 100.0 85.7
TGA Safety information Not at all useful 5.5 6.7 3.4 0.0 2.9
Moderately useful 37.5 35.7 38.2 25.0 14.3
Very useful 57.0 57.5 58.4 75.0 82.9
TGA Consultations Not at all useful 7.2 9.2 3.4 0.0 5.9
Moderately useful 37.8 38.7 29.5 28.6 44.1
Very useful 55.0 52.1 67.0 71.4 50.0
TGA AusPAR Not at all useful 22.3 30.9 10.8 0.0 36.0
Moderately useful 45.5 47.6 43.2 40.0 44.0
Very useful 32.2 21.5 45.9 60.0 20.0
TGA Guidelines Not at all useful 2.9 1.4 0.0 0.0 2.2
Moderately useful 19.4 21.5 12.1 11.1 20.0
Very useful 77.8 77.1 87.9 88.9 77.8
TGA eBS Notices Not at all useful 5.4 7.4 1.1 0.0 3.2
Moderately useful 35.0 41.6 39.6 28.6 51.6
Very useful 59.6 51.0 59.3 71.4 45.2
Medicines Safety Update Not at all useful 18.3 16.8 8.8 0.0 21.4
Moderately useful 37.9 42.7 52.5 16.7 28.6
Very useful 43.8 40.5 38.8 83.3 50.0
Medical Devices Safety Update Not at all useful 11.8 10.1 10.5 0.0 16.7
Moderately useful 38.7 38.3 42.1 28.6 25.0
Very useful 49.4 51.5 47.4 71.4 58.3
Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons Not at all useful 19.7 19.7 7.2 0.0 12.5
Moderately useful 40.7 37.4 38.6 0.0 46.9
Very useful 39.6 42.9 54.2 100.0 40.6
SME Assist Not at all useful 27.6 29.7 36.2 0.0 25.0
Moderately useful 48.7 44.1 36.2 60.0 39.3
Very useful 23.7 26.2 27.5 40.0 35.7
Medicines Shortages Alerts Not at all useful 33.4 41.6 30.3 0.0 36.4
Moderately useful 41.5 38.3 43.9 75.0 18.2
Very useful 25.1 20.1 25.8 25.0 45.5
Prescription medicine NCE registrations Not at all useful 32.3 44.6 15.5 0.0 38.5
Moderately useful 34.1 35.1 40.8 2.05 34.6
Very useful 33.5 20.2 43.7 75.0 26.9
TGA Latest news and updates Not at all useful 1.9 1.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Moderately useful 26.2 27.4 10.5 0.0 25.0
Very useful 72.0 70.9 89.5 100.0 75.0

Sponsor: 321-836; Manufacturer: 117-353; Reg Affairs Con: 38-99; Ind Assoc Rep: 4-9; Other: 12-45.

Frequency of contact

Just over four in ten participants highlight being in contact with the TGA About once a year (42%; Table 19). The lower level of response in this category compared to 2017 is likely a reflection of a wording change across surveys, with a shift in the current year toward more responses in the About once a month category (29% in 2018 vs 15% in 2017). Just over one in ten (12%) participants are in contact with the TGA on a regular basis (About once a week 7% or More than once a week 5%).

Table 19: Frequency of contact with the TGA (%)

How often do you have contact with the TGA?
Year Never About once a year* About once a month Two or three times a month About once a week More than once a week Not sure* N
2018 5 42 29 12 7 5 - 2082
2017 4 48 15 13 6 10 4 2269
2016 5 51 17 12 6 9 - 2429

Note: Scale change for 2018 questionnaire: (a) "Less than once a month" changed to "About once a year" and (b) Not sure option excluded.

Figure 27: Frequency of contact with TGA (%)
Column chart of 2018 data from Table 19

N=2,082

Medical products industry (68% in contact Monthly or more often) and Government (66%) stakeholders show higher frequency of contact than other broad groups in the survey (Table 20 and Figure 28). Health professionals (34%), Retailers (33%) and Academics (40%) all show regular (monthly or more often) contact at relatively low levels compared to other groups. In particular, very few of these stakleholders are in contact About once a week or More than once a week. The overall pattern here is similar to the pattern in 2017 (Figure 29). It is notable that there is a marked increase in the proportion of stakeholders in all categories who report being in contact monthly or more often. This may be attributable to the adjusted scale employed for this question.

Within the Medical products industry, frequency of contact is highest for Regulatory affairs consultants (79% Monthly or more often) Product sponsors (63%) and Industry association representatives (67%; Figure 30). Product manufacturers are less frequently in contact (41%). This pattern is similar to that observed in 2017, however the proportion of those in contact monthly or more often has increased across all groups.

Table 20: Frequency of contact by stakeholder category (%)

How often do you have contact with the TGA?
Stakeholder group Never About once a year About once a month Two or three times a month About once a week More than once a week N
Total 4.9 42.2 28.9 12.2 6.5 5.3 2082
Medical products industry 3.5 38.4 30.4 14.3 7.9 5.4 1423
Health professional 12.7 53.8 22.8 5.6 4.1 1.0 197
Retailer 6.3 60.3 23.8 9.5 0.0 0.0 63
Government 5.1 28.8 18.6 1.7 6.8 39.0 59
Academic 4.8 55.6 31.7 6.3 1.6 0.0 63
Media 0.0 50.0 0.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 2
Other 5.9 49.1 27.9 10.4 3.3 3.3 269
Figure 28: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA by Stakeholder category (%)
Column chart - see Figure 28 in tabular format

Med prod ind: 1423; Health pro: 197; Retailer: 63; Gov: 59; Academic: 63; Media: 2; Other: 269.

Figure 28: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA by Stakeholder category (%)
Category Monthly or more often
All 53
Medical products industry 58
Health professional 34
Retailer 33
Government 66
Academic 40
Media 50
Other 45

Med prod ind: 1423; Health pro: 197; Retailer: 63; Gov: 59; Academic: 63; Media: 2; Other: 269.

Figure 29: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - by Stakeholder category 2017-2018 (%)
Column chart - see Figure 29 in tabular format
Figure 29: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - by Stakeholder category 2017-2018 (%)
Category 2018 2017
Medical products industry 58 50
Health professional 34 32
Retailer 33 29
Government 66 51
Academic 40 22
Media 50 0
Other 45 41
Figure 30: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA - Medical products industry (%)
Column chart - see Figure 30 in tabular format

Sponsor: N=878.Manufacturer: N=382; Reg Affairs Con: N=100; Ind Assoc Rep: N=9; Other: N=50.

Figure 30: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA - Medical products industry (%)
Category Monthly or more often
Product sponsor 63
Product manufacturer 41
Reg affairs consult 79
Ind assoc rep 67
Other 54

Sponsor: N=878.Manufacturer: N=382; Reg Affairs Con: N=100; Ind Assoc Rep: N=9; Other: N=50.

Within the medical products industry, contact frequency is generally higher for larger organisations with a higher number of employees (Figure 31). Less than 4 in ten of those with 1-19 employees are in contact monthly or more, often rising to three in four or more amongst large employers with 600 employees or more.

Figure 31: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - Medical products industry - employee numbers (%)
Line chart - see Figure 31 in tabular format

1-19: N=554; 20-199: N=399; 200-599: N=211; 600-999: N=49; 1000-1499: N=25; 1500+: N=18.

Figure 31: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - Medical products industry - employee numbers (%)
Employees Monthly or more often
1-19 39
20-199 64
200-599 79
600-999 78
1000-1499 80
1500+ 72

1-19: N=554; 20-199: N=399; 200-599: N=211; 600-999: N=49; 1000-1499: N=25; 1500+: N=18.

Within the Health professionals category, contact levels are highest amongst Pharmacists (47% monthly or more often), Medical practitioners (34%) and Complementary healthcare professionals (34%; Figure 32).

Figure 32: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA - Health professionals (%)
Column chart - see Figure 32 in tabular format

Pharmacist: N=30; Med prac: N=41; Nurse: N=20; Comp health: N=38; Dental: N=8; Other: N=59.

Figure 32: Frequency of contact - Monthly or more often - with TGA - Health professionals (%)
Category Monthly or more often
Pharmacist 47
Medical practitioner 34
Nurse 20
Complementary healthcare practitioner 34
Dental practitioner 25
Other 31

Pharmacist: N=30; Med prac: N=41; Nurse: N=20; Comp health: N=38; Dental: N=8; Other: N=59.

Reasons for contact

The most commonly selected reasons to contact the TGA are to lodge an application and to check the progress of an application with the TGA (Table 21 and Figure 33). Medical products industry stakeholders are most likely to nominate these application focussed contact reasons.

Understanding a regulatory process, information about manufacturing products or about specific products, responses to consultation activities and issues related to importing and exporting are all commonly identified reasons for contact.

Table 21: Reasons for contact

For which of the following reasons do you contact the TGA?
Reason N
Lodge an application with the TGA 1350
Check on the progress of an application with the TGA 1079
Information about manufacturing products 591
Report, or enquire about, a problem with a medical device or medicine 420
Information on product recall(s) 324
Importing/exporting products 496
Information on specific product(s) 587
In response to TGA consultation activities 570
Feedback on TGA service delivery 201
To understand the regulatory process 1013
Other, please specify 189

* Note: 101 respondents highlighted at that they Never have contact with the TGA in the previous question. This group was not presented with the current question in the survey.

Figure 33: Reasons for contact (N)
Column chart of Table 21 data

Most stakeholders nominate a number of categories when highlighting the reasons for contacting the TGA, with the most common number of selections falling at 3 and the average at 3.5 selections (Table 22).

Table 22: Reasons for contact - number of reasons (N)
Number of selections N
1 359
2 342
3 370
4 359
5 222
6 147
7 76
8 44
9 17
10 18
11 2
Total 1956
Average selections 3.5

In addition to the reasons provided in the survey, a range of Other reasons are identified in open ended options for this question. These include:

  • Accounts, Fees and Payments.
  • ACE scheme.
  • Adverse event reporting.
  • Advertising/Advertising compliance.
  • Application.
  • Audit and audit issues.
  • Clinical trials.
  • Complaints - including seeking information to respond to a complaints and lodging complaints.
  • Compliance updates and notifications.
  • Disclosures.
  • Employment.
  • Ethics/Ethics committee.
  • External evaluations.
  • General advice/communication.
  • Inspections - responses and reviews.
  • IT issues including general website, forms submissions and other EBS Queries and assistance.
  • Licensing and inspections.
  • Meeting reporting requirements.
  • Pharmacovigilance.
  • Product registrations.
  • Product scheduling.
  • Regulatory safety and efficacy requirements.
  • Research.
  • Response to TGA communications.
  • Tender processes.

Contact channels

The most common contact channel is email, followed by phone (Table 23 and Figure 34). Website contact is also a common channel. Together these three channels represent 96% of the total number of selected contact methods, highlighting their overall importance as key communication and contact points. Overall, respondents selected an average of two contact methods, most commonly involving a combination of email, phone and web channels (Table 24). The pattern is consistent with that observed in 2016 and 2017. It is notable that the trend observed in 2017 for the website to represent a rising proportion of total contact method selections has continued in 2018. The website now accounts for 20% of overall selections, up from 16% in 2016 and continuing the rise from 2017, where it represented 18% of selections. This pattern of contact methods is similar across all groups and sub-groups in the survey.

As noted in previous surveys, Letter and Fax contact methods are still utilised by a small proportion of people and will continue to need some monitoring and resourcing. These methods continue to be most commonly used by those in the Medical products industry and Health professionals. As noted in 2017, both methods appear to be in decline, with the proportion of selections represented by fax contacts halving between 2016 and 2017 (1% down to 0.5%) and almost halving again in 2018 (0.3%) and the proportion of Letter selections falling from 6% in 2016 to 4.5% in 2017 and then to 2.8% in 2018. In the case of fax contacts, only 11 people nominated this method, down from 22 in 2017.

Table 23: Contact channels (N)

How do you contact the TGA?
Method N
Telephone 1312
Email 1722
Letter 113
Fax 11
Website 805
Other 28
N 1949
Figure 34: Contact channel (N)
Column chart of Table 23 data

N=1949

Other contact methods identified in free text responses are:

  • Through the eBS or online portal.
  • Face to face.
  • Via a sponsor, consultant or other intermediary.
  • Other online - e.g. skype.
Table 24: Number of channels (N)
Number of selections N
1 495
2 936
3 453
4 60
5 5
6 0
Total 1949
Average 2

Response times

Participants were asked to highlight how long it took to receive a response from the TGA in relation to various contact methods (Table 25 and Figure 35). In line with the direct format it represents, phone enquiries continue to provide the most immediate response times, with one in four responses provided immediately and more than eight in ten provided in 2 days or less. This outcome is consistent with the experience of phone contact in previous years of the survey (2018 82% 2 days or less; 2017 83%; 2016 83%; Table 26 and Figure 36).

Contact via the TGA website highlights generally fast response times of less than 2 days for 60% of those in contact via this method. Email contact shows generally strong response times with more than half resolved within 2 days and over 90% within 10 days. Despite the generally strong results here, both website and email contacts present ongoing opportunities to minimise the number of responses in the 3-10 day response time category, which still account for around 3 in 10 responses across these common contact methods. This will increase the likelihood of satisfaction with communications experience and also minimise the propensity for contact via phone.

Table 25: Response times by contact category (%)

Generally, how long does it take the TGA to respond to your:
Contact method Immediately <1 day 1-2 days 3-10 days 11-20 days >20 days N
Phone enquiries 24.0 27.7 30.7 14.2 1.4 2.0 1272.0
Email 1.3 14.3 39.5 36.3 5.3 3.3 1667.0
Letter 0.9 1.8 10.0 46.4 26.4 14.5 110.0
Fax 0.0 12.5 37.5 37.5 12.5 0.0 8.0
Contact via the website 8.8 16.1 34.9 29.9 4.8 5.5 750.0
Other enquiry method 25.0 10.0 25.0 25.0 5.0 10.0 20.0
Figure 35: Response times by contact category (%)
Column chart of Table 25 data

N=8-1,667

Overall trends across the three years of the survey highlight generally consistent performance across the main contact channels (Figure 36 and Table 26). The only identifiable trends are in relation to low traffic channels (letter and fax), where the proportion of 2 day or less response times has increased. In both of these cases the numbers involved are small and diminishing over time, highlighting the increasingly small impact these changes will have on overall perceptions and experiences.

Figure 36: Response times (2 days or less) by contact category - 2016-2018 (%)
Column chart - see Figure 36 in tabular format
Figure 36: Response times (2 days or less) by contact category - 2016-2018 (%)
Contact method 2018 2017 2016
Phone enquiries 82 83 84
Email 55 58 54
Letter 13 8 7
Fax 50 46 31
Contact via the website 60 60 58
Other enquiry method 60 67 41

Table 26: Response times 2016-2018 (%)

Generally, how long does it take the TGA to respond to your:
Method 2018 2017 2016
Imm <2d 3-10 11+ Imm <2d 3-10 11+ Imm <2d 3-10 11+
Phone 24 58 14 3 28 55 14 3 29 55 13 3
Email 1 55 36 9 2 56 35 8 1 53 35 11
Letter 1 12 46 41 0 8 48 44 1 6 44 50
Fax 0 50 13 13 5 41 36 18 2 29 44 24
Web 9 51 5 10 8 52 30 10 10 48 33 10
Oth 25 35 5 15 38 29 24 10 16 25 22 38

Satisfaction with response

Satisfaction with responses is highest for those methods that offer the fastest response times. Phone (70%), email (68%) and website (64%) contacts all show Nett satisfaction levels well above other contact methods (Figure 37). These levels are generally in line with 2016 and 2017 outcomes. Continued focus on ensuring fast response times, providing clear and accurate responses and ensuring web and call architecture provides a seamless, logical and easily navigated experience for users will encourage ongoing use of and satisfaction with these channels.

Less utilised Letter, Fax and Other methods show generally lower levels of satisfaction, with around half of those who use these channels expressing satisfaction with the experience. Ongoing work to maximise the use of more responsive and interactive channels (such as the website) should be a focus for the small number of people who continue to make written or fax based contact.

Figure 37: Satisfaction with response - contact type (%)
Bar chart - see Figure 37 in tabular format

Phone: N=1291; Email: N=1692; Letter: N=111; Fax: N=8; Website: N=765; Other: N=8

Figure 37: Satisfaction with response - contact type (%)
Contact method Nett dissatisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied Nett satisfied
Phone enquiries 13 17 70
Email 12 20 68
Letter 16 30 54
Fax 13 38 50
Contact via the website 10 25 64
Other enquiry method 18 27 55

Phone: N=1291; Email: N=1692; Letter: N=111; Fax: N=8; Website: N=765; Other: N=8

Trends across 2016-2018 show generally consistent results (Figure 38). Nett satisfaction shows some variation across years in relation to Letter and Fax contacts; however, the small numbers involved here make interpretation difficult and mean there is minimal impact from these fluctuations on overall communications satisfaction.

Figure 38: Nett satisfaction with response - 2016 - 2018 (%)
Bar chart - see Figure 38 in tabular format
Figure 38: Nett satisfaction with response - 2016 - 2018 (%)
Contact method 2018 2017 2016
Phone enquiries 70 72 70
Email 68 70 66
Letter 54 62 56
Fax 50 50 62
Contact via the website 64 65 63
Other enquiry method 55 57 67

Across stakeholder categories there is some variation in satisfaction with the experience of the most common communication channels (Figure 39). Medical products industry and Government stakeholders provide generally positive ratings, while there is some fluctuation amongst Retailers and generally (although in some areas only slightly) lower outcomes amongst Health professionals.

Figure 39: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - stakeholder category (%)
Column chart - see Figure 39 in tabular format

Med prod ind: N=516-1210; Health pro: N=76-128; Retailer: N=22-42; Gov: N=16-40; Academic: N=33-50; Media: N=0-1; Other: N=99-216.

Figure 39: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - stakeholder category (%)
Stakeholder group Phone Email Website
Total 70 68 64
Med prod ind 69 68 65
Health professional 67 66 54
Retailer 71 62 59
Government 79 70 69
Academic 71 68 70
Media 100 0 0
Other 70 70 66

Med prod ind: N=516-1210; Health pro: N=76-128; Retailer: N=22-42; Gov: N=16-40; Academic: N=33-50; Media: N=0-1; Other: N=99-216.

For Health professionals the most notable outcome is a lower level of satisfaction with communication via the website (54% Nett satisfied). This reflects generally lower levels of satisfaction among all healthcare practitioner categories, although it is notable that there is a markedly lower level of satisfaction amongst Medical practitioners (40%; Figure 40; Noting that the sample sizes are small). To address this, further investigation may be required to ensure there are clear and logical pathways for these groups to identify and access the information they are seeking on the site.

Figure 40: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - Healthcare professionals (%)
Column chart - see Figure 40 in tabular format

Pharmacist: N=8-18; Med prac: N=12-25; Nurse: N=8-10; Comp health: N=13-24; Dental: N=3-5; Other: N=26-47.

Figure 40: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - Healthcare professionals (%)
Stakeholder group Phone Email Website
Total 70 68 64
Pharmacist 64 78 63
Medical prac 75 68 40
Nurse 100 88 60
Comp health 50 46 62
Dental 100 80 75
Other 61 66 50

Pharmacist: N=8-18; Med prac: N=12-25; Nurse: N=8-10; Comp health: N=13-24; Dental: N=3-5; Other: N=26-47.

Product sponsors show satisfaction levels generally in line with or just above the overall average. Product manufacturers show levels slightly below the overall average, whilst Regulatory affairs consultants are generally in line with the average experience across Email, Website and Phone contacts (Figure 41).

Figure 41: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - Medical products industry (%)
Column chart - see Figure 41 in tabular format

Sponsor: N=323-764; Manufacturer: N=144-308; Reg Affairs Con: N=28-88; Ind Assoc Rep: N=3-8; Other: N=16-41.

Figure 41: Nett satisfied - Phone, Email, Website - Medical products industry (%)
Stakeholder group Phone Email Website
Total 70 68 64
Product sponsor 72 69 67
Manufacturer 61 64 59
Reg aff consult 70 66 64
Ind assoc rep 67 63 100
Other 80 78 81

Sponsor: N=323-764; Manufacturer: N=144-308; Reg Affairs Con: N=28-88; Ind Assoc Rep: N=3-8; Other: N=16-41.

As noted in 2017, the major driver of satisfaction across all contact channels is the response time. Figure 42 demonstrates the strong association here, with immediate and single day response times resulting in satisfaction levels of above 80% coupled with very low levels of dissatisfaction. As response times increase, the overall level of satisfaction falls and a commensurate rise in the levels of dissatisfaction is observed. Continued focus on achieving streamlined processes for responding to contacts is recommended as a method to achieve and maintain high level of satisfaction. To achieve this, a focus on ensuring each channel provides a seamless experience for users will be required. Website optimisation, web architecture, efforts to quickly identify specific tools and resources for particular stakeholders (e.g. health professionals), call architecture and call response outcomes, email handling processes (including acknowledgement, updates and follow-up) and efforts to drive down use of less responsive channels such as fax and letter all offer relevant strategies that will play a role in the final user experience and resolution times.

Figure 42: Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction with contact (all contact methods) vs Response time (%)
Line chart - see Figure 42 in tabular format
Figure 42: Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction with contact (all contact methods) vs Response time (%)
Response time Nett dissatisifed Nett satisfied
Less than 1 day 4 86
1-2 days 6 74
3-10 days 15 54
11-20 days 40 34
Greater than 20 days 72 7

Communications - Overall satisfaction

Overall nett satisfaction with the experience of communicating with the TGA is observed at 68%, with 12% highlighting some level of dissatisfaction (Table 28). This level is consistent with 2017 and maintains the improvements made on this measure since the 2016 survey (Table 27 and Figure 43).

Table 27: Communication- Overall satisfaction - 2016 - 2018 (%)

Overall, how satisfied are you with the experience of communicating with the TGA?
Year Nett dissatisfied Neither Nett satisfied
2016 15 22 63
2017 12 19 69
2018 12 21 68
Figure 43: Communications - Overall nett satisfaction - 2016-2018 (%)
Bar chart of Table 27 Nett satisfied data

N: 2018 - 1927; 2017 - 1977; 2016 - 2187.

Government (70%) and Medical products industry (68%) stakeholders show high Nett satisfaction levels, with Health professional, Retailer and Academic groups all showing slightly lower than average Nett satisfaction (Table 28). These results show some variation for Health professionals and Government stakeholders based on the previous year. Health professionals Nett satisfaction is down 9% (from 70% in 2017) and Government stakeholders Nett satisfaction rose from 49% in 2017 to 70% in 2018. The result for Retailers is also of interest for a trend toward higher dissatisfaction. Nett satisfaction for Retailers remains similar across years; however, the level of Nett dissatisfaction rose to more than one in five respondents (22% up from 16% in 2017). Monitoring and identification of specific communication needs for this group may be warranted to identify any specific communication challenges and needs. Other stakeholder categories remain consistent with previous years.

Within the Medical products industry category there is a consistent level of satisfaction, with all sub categories showing Nett satisfaction of between 65% and 70%. Consistent with other areas of the survey, Product sponsors (70%) and Regulatory affairs consultants (71%) appear slightly more likely than other groups to provide a positive rating. Despite the very small numbers involved, Industry association representatives satisfaction levels are in line with other groups in this category (67%). This is in contrast to previous years in the survey where outcomes amongst Industry association representatives were consistently lower than amongst the broader group of Medical products industry participants (e.g. in 2017 Industry association reps showed 42% Nett satisfaction).

Within the small sub samples of healthcare professionals there are large variations in the level of Nett satisfaction with communication outcomes (Table 28). Pharmacists (73%), Nurses (69%) and Dental practitioners (71%) show relatively strong levels of nett satisfaction. In contrast, Medical practitioners (53%) and Complementary healthcare practitioners (44%) show lower levels of satisfaction.

Table 28: Communication - Overall satisfaction by Stakeholder category, Industry, and Health professional categories (%)

Overall, how satisfied are you with the experience of communicating with the TGA?
Category Nett dissatisfied Neither Nett satisfied N
Medical products industry 11 20 68 1344
Health professional 14 25 61 167
Retailer 22 15 63 59
Government 2 28 70 47
Academic 12 24 64 58
Media 0 0 100 1
Other 10 20 70 246
Medical products industry
Product sponsor 11 19 70 841
Product manufacturer 13 23 65 353
Regulatory affairs consultant 8 21 71 91
Industry association representative 11 22 67 9
Other 9 26 66 47
Health professional
Pharmacist 5 23 73 22
Medical practitioner 22 25 53 32
Nurse 6 25 69 16
Complementary healthcare practitioner 25 31 44 32
Dental practitioner 0 29 71 7
Other health professional 11 23 67 57

Participants were provided with an opportunity to comment on their experience communicating with the TGA.

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