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TGA stakeholder survey 2017

26 April 2018

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Publication of the 2016-17 TGA Stakeholder Survey results

This annual survey aims to measure our performance in a range of areas and informs part of our KPI report.

During the process of preparing the survey findings for publication, we identified some minor discrepancies in the survey data, however these were already published in the KPI report in late 2017.

The discrepancies were as follows:

  • We reported that invites were sent to 20,214 stakeholders to complete the survey, however the correct figure is 21,214.
  • We reported that 51% of health professionals found consultations very useful, however the correct figure is 42%. This does not impact on the KPI rating of 'met' (KPI 6).

We have amended the KPI report to reflect the correct information.


This report provides a summary of findings from the 2017 Therapeutic Goods Administration stakeholder survey.

Executive summary

An online survey was conducted amongst TGA stakeholders in July 2017. The survey provided opportunities for stakeholders to feedback to TGA across a range of service and activity areas.

A total of 2,535 responses to the survey were received during the survey period, a response rate of 12%. Respondents include a broad range of groupings, including strong representation from the Medical products industry, Health professionals, Academics and Government stakeholders, Community, Industry association representatives and Advocates.

Reputation, trust and risk management

The trust placed in the TGA by its core stakeholder group represents a key strength of the organisation. Nearly nine in ten stakeholders trust the TGA to perform its role ethically and with integrity. This level of trust and strong reputation is also perceived to carry across to the TGA's international reputation, with three in four survey participants agreeing that the TGA is well regarded on the international stage.

Two measures focussing on risk show that around 70% of respondents feel that the TGA is balancing risks appropriately and managing risks proportionately. Despite strong outcomes, these areas offer opportunities to address concerns of the more than one in 10 stakeholders who feel that this is not the case.

The outcomes in these areas show a general trend toward improvement compared to the 2016 survey results. Of particular note are strong results within the largest subgroup (medical products industry), where results are consistently strong across both product sponsors and product manufacturers.

Continued opportunities to maintain and improve on these measures are identified in relation to the potential for ongoing work with those in Community, Government, Industry association representatives, Dental practitioner and Complementary healthcare groupings.

Confidence in the TGA

Confidence in the TGA across the range of measures tracked shows some variation. Four of the seven measures – Technical competence, Well thought out decisions, Scientifically valid decisions and Fairness – fall below 60% Nett high confidence levels and two of the remaining three measures – Providing safeguards for Australians and Trustworthiness – at or above 70% Nett high confidence. These outcomes reflect a general (slight) decline in the proportion of people highlighting high levels of confidence in the TGA across all measures. This decline did not, however, translate into higher numbers of respondents in the low confidence ratings categories, with more respondents instead identifying as having Moderate (rather than low) confidence in the TGA.

Confidence levels across key stakeholder groups show generally higher confidence levels within the community and medical products industry groupings and lower levels of confidence within Government. Within the key medical products industry category, there is also a strong divide between the views of industry association representatives (who show far lower levels of confidence) and both product sponsors and manufacturers.

For medical professional groupings, the data indicates lower levels of overall confidence amongst complementary healthcare practitioners, fluctuating confidence amongst the small numbers of dental, nursing and pharmacist professionals and strong levels of confidence amongst medical professionals.

Whilst more general outcome areas related to trust and the overall outcomes in protecting Australians remain positive here, key opportunities to communicate and establish higher confidence in relation to decision making and associated technical competence remain. Communication and transparency in demonstrating clear and technically valid decision making and engaging a range of key stakeholders is required. Engagement and communication strategies to understand and address the concerns of key stakeholder groups, most notably medical products industry, health professional and government groups are recommended.

Collaboration, consultation and feedback

Notable improvements are identified since 2016 across all measures relating to collaboration, consultation and feedback. These improvements resulted in Nett agreement of more than 50% across 6 of 7 (up from 2 in 7 in 2016) measures. Despite these improvements, this focus area continues to highlight key opportunities for ongoing improvement.

Whilst almost seven in ten survey participants highlight that they are able to provide feedback to the TGA, levels of agreement on how the TGA will respond, its willingness to consult in a timely way, opportunities to provide input into key decisions and overall collaboration highlight that many stakeholders feel that the ability to provide meaningful input at appropriate times is limited. Specific ongoing areas for focus include perceptions around the timeliness of consultation, listening to feedback, providing opportunities for input on key issues and decisions, and providing a range of feedback channels that both seek and share information and collaboration.

The variation across groups here suggests that strategies to better engage some specific groups will be beneficial. In particular, a focus on Government, Industry association representatives, Academics and Retailers is warranted.

Communication and information services

Identification of information and communication channels used by stakeholders continues to highlight that all available information channels are in use with a continued dominance of the TGA website and business services portal as the key channels employed. A focus on ensuring these key resources are well targeted, navigable, logical and clear represents a key priority in this area.

Despite the continuing dominance of website channels, the uptake of other services shows a trend across years for more respondents to highlight some use of each channel. This was particularly the case for email subscription services and the TGA consultation forecast. Other commonly utilised channels include the RSS feed and high engagement (face to face) channels such as roadshows, information sessions and conference booths.

Ratings of the usefulness of each information channel is characterised by high variation. Consistent with 2016, TGA guidelines, TGA Updates and Safety information were the most positively viewed. In particular, both TGA updates and Safety information appeared to show improvements in comparison to 2016, with rises of 6% and 4% respectively in the Nett useful ratings.

The overall patterns in this area are highly consistent with 2016, with few people highlighted that the range of information resources were not useful at all. There are exceptions here, with Medicines shortage alerts, TGA AusPAR, Prescription medicine, NCE registrations and SME assist all showing lower usefulness outcomes. These services generally showed higher levels of not applicable ratings and marked variations across stakeholder groupings, highlighting the continued targeted nature of these resources.

Findings in relation to specific stakeholder groups in the survey demonstrate the importance of understanding the specific information needs of each target audience. Ongoing efforts to clearly understand and meet the communication needs of each stakeholder group are warranted.

Contact with TGA

Contact with the TGA most frequently occurs via email or phone with most participants who highlight contact reporting relatively infrequent contact of once a month or less. Fax and Letter contacts remain in use by small numbers of stakeholders, however these appear to be in decline and will likely become more infrequent in future.

Medical products industry (most notably regulatory affairs consultants) and Government stakeholders tend to be in contact more often than other groups in the survey. Contact most frequently occurs for core business reasons, with application lodgement, progress updates on applications and information about specific products the most commonly cited reasons for contact.

Satisfaction with responses for the variety of contact methods tested highlights strong variation across contact methods employed. Phone, email and website contacts show the strongest positive outcomes. The strongest indicator of satisfaction is response time, reinforcing the need to ensure responsiveness of communications. This outcome also reinforces the need to maximise the ability for stakeholders to achieve fast response times via self-service mechanisms such as the TGA website.

Overall satisfaction with communications outcomes shows 69% Nett satisfaction (up 6% from 63% in 2016) and 12% Nett dissatisfaction (down 3% from 15%). Satisfaction was strongest amongst Health professional and Medical products industry groups and lower amongst Government stakeholders.

TGA website

The TGA website continues to be broadly used, with 90% of survey participants highlighting some use of the site and frequency of use patterns consistent with 2016.

Regular use of the site is highest amongst industry users, with 31% of Medical product industry respondents highlighting weekly or more visits to the site (within this group regulatory affairs consultants show very high regular use 60%). Within the industry grouping, frequent visits to the site are also strongly related to organisational size, with weekly or more frequent use increasing steadily with the number of employees (to a high of 69% amongst those with 1000-1499 employees).

A broad range of reasons for accessing the site are highlighted. The most common reasons are to seek guidance documents, access databases and seek fees and charges information, however significant interest was identified across all categories listed in the survey. This continued broad use of the site reinforces the success of the site in catering to a broad range of needs and interests.

Overall satisfaction with the information website is strong, with 72% of stakeholders who have experienced the site expressing satisfaction and a minimal 6% expressing dissatisfaction (2016 69% Nett satisfaction and 7% dissatisfaction). Satisfaction is very strong amongst the key Medical products industry group (74%; including consistently strong outcomes amongst sponsors, manufacturers and regulatory affairs consultants) as well as amongst retailers (71%). Satisfaction is lowest amongst Government (56%) and Industry association (43%) users. Where dissatisfaction occurs, comments provided by users highlight a strong association with navigation and the ease of identifying information.

Ongoing enhancement of the site through continuous monitoring and site intercept surveys to fully understand the breadth, characteristics and needs of site visitors will provide a more detailed picture of the use and effectiveness of the site in meeting user needs in a logical, user friendly and efficient manner.

TGA business services portal

Use of the Business services portal is reported by just over 8 in 10 participants. Use of the site was most commonly infrequent, just under half reporting they use the site monthly or less. Medical products industry and Government stakeholders tend to visit the site most frequently, with 55% of industry and 45% of Government stakeholders visiting Monthly or more often. In particular Regulatory affairs consultants, Product sponsors and Industry association representatives show high, frequent use of the site. Frequent use is also strongly associated with the size of stakeholders' organisations.

The patterns and reasons for use amongst stakeholders are highly consistent with findings from 2016, when the most common reasons for accessing the site were to lodge an application or check the progress of an application.

Satisfaction with the site remains steady (compared to 2016), with 66% highlighting satisfaction and just over 11% dissatisfaction. Importantly, satisfaction was particularly strong amongst key user groups of product sponsors (74%), manufacturers (74%) and regulatory affairs consultants (76%).

TGA activities and events

Close to one in four respondents indicate having attended a TGA event or activity. Participants highlight participation across the full range of activities conducted by the TGA as well as identifying a range of external events where the TGA was represented or provided input as a participant.

Satisfaction with consultations varied across measures, with strong outcomes in relation to the information provided (76% Nett satisfaction) and ability to provide input (71%). In contrast, the measure focussed on follow-up procedures (49%) represents a key opportunity area to improve the overall experience of participants. In particular, this rating is important for participants as effective follow-up processes provide a sense of completion and have the potential to provide an amplified impact as a result of being the most recent experience of the consultation. Overall satisfaction is generally in line with 2016 outcomes, with a trend toward slightly lower levels of dissatisfaction also apparent.

Exhibitions are generally positively received.

SME assist

Around one in five industry participants with fewer than 200 employees identified are aware of SME assist. Awareness increases in line with employee numbers and is similar across both Product sponsor and Product manufacturer categories.

Amongst those who are aware of SME assist, access is highest amongst the smallest employers. The high access amongst this group, who are overall less likely to be aware of the site, highlights a particular opportunity for targeted promotion activities aimed at increased awareness.

Where use of the portal does occur, the experience of stakeholders is generally positive.

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