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Finding the Right Delphi Consensus Provider for Pharma Supported Studies

Posted: 7th May 2024
Categories: Uncategorised

Finding the Right Delphi Consensus Provider for Pharma Supported Studies


The Delphi Consensus method is widely recognised as a valuable approach to generate expert opinion-based evidence. While it offers both speed and credibility, the highly structured approach required means that success hinges on the expertise of the team leading the research. As a pharmaceutical company commissioning or supporting a Delphi Consensus study, you will want to be able to effectively evaluate potential providers, which will determine their ability to help you meet your objectives.

To assist in this process, we’ve outlined four critical aspects to consider when assessing different Delphi Consensus providers:

  1. Protocol and project management
  2. Track record including publication and communication success
  3. Capabilities and experience
  4. Knowledge of and adherence to ethical and regulatory standards


1. Protocol & project management: A capable Delphi consensus provider is process-oriented

When seeking a Delphi consensus provider, it is important to understand the protocol they employ for their studies.

All providers of Delphi Consensus in the healthcare space will use what are called ‘modified Delphi methods’ and the methodology will differ from one to another. A reputable provider will have an established and proven protocol in place, crucial for navigating the complexities of a Delphi project efficiently. That said, a provider that is confident in their approach can more easily accommodate adaptations to meet individual project needs, having successfully managed projects in various ways and contexts.

Beware of broad consultancy firms that may offer to conduct a Delphi Consensus study without having previously invested the requisite time in designing and refining processes. Not only can this cause unnecessary stress during the process, but it also jeopardizes the overall quality of the study.

A competent Delphi Consensus provider will continuously refine their methodology based on client feedback and industry best practices so ask questions to assess the level of excellence and responsiveness they hold themselves accountable to when it comes to this type of activity.

Your ideal Delphi provider shoulders the burden of project management (almost) entirely. Their proposal should outline expectations and time commitment required from you and from experts (e.g. steering group members and responder panel) at each point of the project. A competent provider will be able to demonstrate strong stakeholder satisfaction with the way that projects are conducted in addition to the outputs they produce.


2. Track record: A capable Delphi consensus provider has a track record of publication and communication success

When evaluating different Delphi Consensus providers, focus on their track record specifically in utilizing the Delphi method. You should expect to see multiple case studies (not just one or two) that demonstrate their ability to reproduce desired outcomes time and again.

Delphi consensus outputs are recognized as Level 4 evidence, holding weight with prescribers, other healthcare professionals, and policymakers. Peer-reviewed publications play a crucial role in enhancing a study’s recognition and perceived legitimacy, but gaining acceptance in top journals can be challenging, with around 60% of manuscripts facing rejection as peer-reviewers only accept studies of sufficient quality.

Seek providers with a high publication success rate and enquire about the impact of the journals they publish in, as well as the guidelines they follow when it comes to medical writing. We recommend, for instance, following the ICJME & GPP guidelines.  Studies that respect EQUATOR guidance in their design and conduct also tend to be viewed well by peer-reviewers. The recently established ACCORD guideline the first reporting guideline for all consensus-based studies is a specific standard recognized by EQUATOR, and Delphi Consensus providers should be incorporating this into their SOPs.


3. Capabilities and experience: A capable Delphi consensus provider is an expert team (usually in-house)

When evaluating potential Delphi consensus providers, check that they possess an in-house team with the capability and experience necessary to not only effectively manage projects but also to provide valuable guidance throughout.

You need a team that acts as advisors rather than simply executors, especially at the project outset, to tailor the approach to address your unique challenges and opportunities. Your provider should understand the longer-term objective that the study aims to support and be capable of leveraging the study’s output to effect real change in the healthcare landscape.

A reputable provider will have extensive knowledge and experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. They should be adept at designing the Delphi Consensus study effectively, deliver it efficiently and seamlessly shape a relevant communication campaign/strategy for implementation that helps you achieve longer-term goals. Do enquire about the tangible impact of previous Delphi Consensus and associated campaigns delivered. How did care pathways change? How did clinical best practices adapt? What was the impact on policy?

A provider that demonstrates an in-house team with the range of strategic counsel, project/stakeholder management, and scientific communication skills is essential to smoothly and expertly navigate the project from inception to implementation.


4. Ethical and regulatory standards: A capable Delphi consensus provider is effortlessly compliant

When selecting a Delphi Consensus provider, look for those who uphold ethical and regulatory standards that are specific to medical research and that demonstrate a commitment to good practice.

This entails standards such as maintaining transparency and integrity throughout the Delphi consensus process, safeguarding confidentiality, ensuring data privacy, and preserving responder anonymity. Additionally, upholding impartiality (independence as facilitator) and recognizing sources of potential bias is paramount to safeguard the integrity of the consensus-building process and subsequent outputs.

In highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and health technology, adherence and compliance to specific regulations such as those established by PhRMA in the U.S. or ABPI in the UK is essential. This extends to communication practices, and the requirement to ensure that information conveyed to stakeholders within and outside of the project complies strictly with regulatory guidelines. You might want to ask potential Delphi consensus providers about their awareness regarding those guidelines and enquire about how their processes respect them in practice.


About us


At Triducive we deliver consensus-led evidence that gets published and supports change.

Our team, with a strong background in pharma, has been delivering Delphi Consensus for over ten years around the world, boasting over 50+ peer reviewed publications, and fostering positive change.

Get in touch with us to learn about the way we design and facilitate Delphi consensus and also how we help turn this new evidence into powerful advocacy-based campaigns.

You can also learn more about what we could achieve together by browsing our case studies.