The Beginnings

The EphMRA Online Forecasting Forum was set up in the second half of 2018 by Erik Holzinger/groupH and Ben Collins/Boehringer Ingelheim to provide a place for industry and agencies to engage and continue discussing topics of interest in areas of Forecasting and Data Analysis throughout the year. The idea followed a lively Forecasting Roundtable event at the 2018 EphMRA Conference in Basel.

Currently 36 individuals from 11 Pharma companies (AZ, Bayer, BI, Celgene, Eisai, J&J, Roche, Sanofi, Pierre Fabre and others) and 5 agencies (Aurum, groupH, JD, Kantar, SKIM) have signed up to the forum with roughly half of all participants joining the 2-montly 1 hour lunch time TCs on a regular basis.

Objectives and Target Audience

The forum started with the idea of regular, easy-to-access 1 hour online meetings that discuss one or more topics that are of high interest and where comments from different perspectives add VALUE in a broader sense. The discussion so far stayed clear of any potential conflict at franchise or indication level or where member organisations may directly compete with each other.

The online meetings are free (for members), organised as a closed group but accessible by all experienced individuals with a forecasting or data analytics background.

Modus Operandi

From the outset the forum has been working along a set of guidelines that govern the interactions and describe the forum ethos – a modified version of ‘Chatham House Rules’.

The 2-monthly 1 hour dial-ins are scheduled for Friday lunch times and are chaired by Erik Holzinger or Ben Collins and typically start with an opening statement introducing the topic, which may or may not be supported by potential briefing materials. The discussion aims to reveal real-world experience with methodologies and techniques and we look to challenge, probe and encourage questions and comments from anyone taking part. Adherence to the underlying guidelines encourages an open and honest discussion.

Every meeting is recorded and transcribed and distributed to all participants for reference as part of the offering. In parallel, all members are also signed up to a free and simple SLACK and DropBox space. This allows the sharing of documents, follow-up discussions and easy access to a repository of useful content such as historic and recent publications and papers during 365 days per year.

Towards the end of 2018 the forum researched its own needs, preferences and topics of interest in more detail. A survey covered five simple questions and allowed comments on the proposed draft guidelines from all participants.

Following the survey, the feedback was discussed between organisers and participants individually through 30 minutes follow-up video calls. Based on this feedback the guidelines were confirmed unchanged and the idea of a 4 hour face-to-face meet-up hosted by one of the participating Pharma companies was added to the scheduled 2019 activities.

Following an introductory call in November 2018, the forum covered three topics so far: 1. Decision Making Criteria for Early Stage Opportunities, 2. Differential Analysis and 3. The Changing Role of Primary Research in Forecasting.

Future Outlook

We are currently planning for the 1 hour face-to-face Forecasting Roundtable in Warsaw in June during the yearly EphMRA conference and a face-to-face 4 hour meeting in Ingelheim on 11th October. We are considering inviting speakers on selected topics and to tackle forecasting challenges and questions that cannot by solved by any agency or industry player on its own. This face-to-face meet-up is, again, planned as a free event, hosted by an active forum member organisation but limited to a closed group of participants.

We are exploring the feasibility of pulling together a sufficiently large sample of historic market research from a broad range of therapy areas for meta-analysis. We will be looking for insights that will help to improve long term forecast accuracy by understanding known but difficult to quantify uncertainties better such as physician bias and potential overstatement among others.

Potential other ideas for future engagement is to offer adhoc 15 minutes CLINICS for specific questions from member organisations that would benefit from broader input.

From the outset the forum has been working along a set of guidelines that govern the interactions and describe the forum ethos – a modified version of ‘Chatham House Rules’.

The 2-monthly 1 hour dial-ins are scheduled for Friday lunch times and are chaired by Erik Holzinger or Ben Collins and typically start with an opening statement introducing the topic, which may or may not be supported by potential briefing materials. The discussion aims to reveal real-world experience with methodologies and techniques and we look to challenge, probe and encourage questions and comments from anyone taking part. Adherence to the underlying guidelines encourages an open and honest discussion.

Every meeting is recorded and transcribed and distributed to all participants for reference as part of the offering. In parallel, all members are also signed up to a free and simple SLACK and DropBox space. This allows the sharing of documents, follow-up discussions and easy access to a repository of useful content such as historic and recent publications and papers during 365 days per year.

Towards the end of 2018 the forum researched its own needs, preferences and topics of interest in more detail. A survey covered five simple questions and allowed comments on the proposed draft guidelines from all participants.

Following the survey, the feedback was discussed between organisers and participants individually through 30 minutes follow-up video calls. Based on this feedback the guidelines were confirmed unchanged and the idea of a 4 hour face-to-face meet-up hosted by one of the participating Pharma companies was added to the scheduled 2019 activities.

Following an introductory call in November 2018, the forum covered three topics so far: 1. Decision Making Criteria for Early Stage Opportunities, 2. Differential Analysis and 3. The Changing Role of Primary Research in Forecasting.

Future Outlook

We are currently planning for the 1 hour face-to-face Forecasting Roundtable in Warsaw in June during the yearly EphMRA conference and a face-to-face 4 hour meeting in Ingelheim on 11th October. We are considering inviting speakers on selected topics and to tackle forecasting challenges and questions that cannot by solved by any agency or industry player on its own. This face-to-face meet-up is, again, planned as a free event, hosted by an active forum member organisation but limited to a closed group of participants.

We are exploring the feasibility of pulling together a sufficiently large sample of historic market research from a broad range of therapy areas for meta-analysis. We will be looking for insights that will help to improve long term forecast accuracy by understanding known but difficult to quantify uncertainties better such as physician bias and potential overstatement among others.

Potential other ideas for future engagement is to offer adhoc 15 minutes CLINICS for specific questions from member organisations that would benefit from broader input.

If you are interested in joining the group please contact [email protected]