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Market research: stage one - qualitative research report

Informing TGA education and communication activities

11 February 2014

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Information sources

Key findings on current information sources

Multiple sources are used across all stakeholder groups, with no one source seen to meet all information needs.

Consumers

Google searches are most likely to be used by the general public, followed by trusted sources such as their doctor or health professional, friends and family, calling the National Prescribing Service or looking at Choice Magazine.

Potential suppliers

The consumers who are potential suppliers tend to find out information through Google, health professionals, product packaging and then the TGA website. Contact with the TGA by phone or email is generally in response to further information needs or explanations about ingredients, vitamins and questions about if their product needs to go through a TGA 'approval' process.

Medical professionals

Medical professionals and their practice managers are most likely to source information through their clinical software (including MIMs and Phoenix), Google, drug company materials and representatives, the Department of Health, followed by occasional TGA mail items, with little use of the TGA website.

Other health professionals

The information sources this group uses includes manufacturer and product information booklets, therapeutic good representatives, software including eMIMs or eTG, reference books such as the Australian Medicines Handbook, and professional publications.

They also use Google for main ingredients in a medicine, mail and fax notifications, colleagues and local pharmacists, Local Divisions of General Practice (now Medicare Locals) and professional bodies such as the Exercise and Sports Science Association.

Industry

The TGA website is the go-to point for most of industry, followed by direct contact with the TGA when seeking advice and clarification when an immediate response is needed or where further information through the website’s centralised portals is not adequate.

The following table summarises the channels currently used by the different stakeholder groups. However, it does not show the degree to which they are used. For example, the TGA website was used by all stakeholder groups, however consumers used it minimally and often only as the result of a Google search.

Table 2: Sources of information
Source Consumers Potential suppliers Medical professionals Other health professionals Industry
TGA website yes yes yes yes yes
Media yes yes yes
Google yes yes yes
Doctor, pharmacist or other health professional yes yes yes
Direct notifications from the TGA yes yes yes
Professional or industry bodies and publications yes yes yes
Manufacturer and product information yes yes
Direct contact with TGA yes yes
Clinical software (eMIMs) yes yes
Therapeutic goods companies and representatives yes yes
Electronic resources (eTG, Australian Medicines Handbook, Comlaw) yes yes
Word of mouth from family and friends yes
NPS yes
Choice magazine yes
Seminars and conferences yes
Colleagues and consultants yes

Key findings on new and preferred sources

One key finding that was raised within the health professional and industry groups was that they would prefer to receive messages about recalls and safety issues directly from the TGA before they are published in the media.

Consumers

Consumers noted that they would likely continue to use the same sources they currently access, but that increased awareness of the TGA (i.e. knowing that the TGA is the organisation to contact about therapeutic goods) would also lead to increased use of the TGA website and other direct TGA information sources.

Potential suppliers

Consumers who are also potential suppliers said that they would like to be able to access the following types of communication:

  • personal, targeted communications, possibly sent via a trusted source or industry body
  • brochures with quick reference materials
  • attendance at expos, such as fitness expos

Medical practitioners

Medical practitioners reported that they would prefer to receive information through:

  • a stand-alone program on approved items via email alerts
  • third party trusted sources, such as local health professional networks and channels

Other health professionals

Many of the other health professionals believe they are already well serviced through existing information sources such as journals, newsletters and guidelines and would contact the TGA by phone or website as needed. However, they suggested that the TGA also provide the following:

  • monthly/quarterly newsletter via email or mail (based on Pharmacy Guild format)
  • targeted email or fax notices/updates (no more than two per month)
  • an A4 notice to hang on the wall with contact details

Industry

Industry was particularly interested in having greater direct contact and face-to-face opportunities with the TGA to ask questions, understand decision making processes, and get consistent advice and 'answers on the spot'. They also suggested:

  • regular forwarding of listed changes to all targeted sponsors as it affects them
  • social media

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