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The role of nurses is changing

Published by Amanda G. Hertz, February, 2023

Nurses are an increasingly important stakeholder group for pharma in the Nordics because their role is in transition. Thus, pharma needs deep insights into the clinical context in which nurses work to understand their needs, aspirations, and roadblocks to the best support in their work.

While the pharmaceutical industry has a long history of collaborating with nurses around training, trials, and patient materials, the willingness to invest in market research about nurses as a target group has been limited. Rather, pharma’s focus has been on specialized physicians in the hospital setting and general practitioners in primary care. In both cases, the priority of doctors over nurses, has arguably been based on the “power to prescribe” – as they represent business impact.

However, in our recent market research activities we have seen a growing openness to include nurses in study designs.

From this work, it has become clear that nurses see their role as in a state of transition. At the same time, they experience great pressure in lack of resource (time, staff, and funding). This is especially the case in secondary care. In the light of these trends, we believe it is key for pharma to strengthen its understanding of nurses and their needs in a clinical context to be able to support, collaborate with, and manage this stakeholder group.

Nurses get more responsibility in the clinic

Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted among hospital nurses and doctors, we see a tendency towards nurses getting more and more responsibility in the clinic. This includes both tasks that were previously reserved for doctors along with new areas of responsibility. In addition, our market research revealed an increased specialization of nurses within specific treatment types or subdisease areas. At the same time, nurses are more important in tying the patient pathway together and acting as mediators and translators in todays specialized and fragmented healthcare system.

The new responsibilities and changes in the role of nurses are ongoing, resulting in a state of transition which is also expressed by nurses themselves. The transition means that there are old and new domains, where nurses are becoming increasingly important, e.g., management of side-effect, administration of treatments, controls, and follow-up with the patients but also patient education, patient empowerment, and disease management training. At a structural level, these insights and trends are supported by the Danish government’s healthcare reform and bill on authorization of healthcare personnel, which prepares the grounds for nurses to take on specific tasks previously reserved for doctors.

Understanding is key

To conclude, our market research shows that the role of nurses is changing and growing in importance when it comes to treatment, standard of care, and patient pathways. These changes are accompanied by structural pressure and specific challenges for nurses.

At Signum we believe that insights into the nurse transition is key to understand and plan for future healthcare systems in the Nordics. There are clear business opportunities for pharma in helping nurses realize their potential and succeed in their new roles and responsibilities. However, that requires deep understanding of the nurses’ clinical context and their needs, experiences, barriers, and aspirations.

If you are curious to know more about nurses and these opportunities, feel free to reach out to me.

Key takeaways:

Nurses’ role is in transition – becoming more important as a stakeholder.

Pharma needs deep insights into nurses’ clinical world to strengthen collaborating with this stakeholder group.

Gaining qualitative insights into the new role that nuses play in the healthcare system offers a business oppotunities for pharma.

“Good market research starts with asking the right questions. We offer mixed methods study designs that integrate different data sources, to help you dig deep for answers and uncover critical market dynamics.”

Published by

Amanda G. Hertz

Senior Consultant Advanced Market Research


+45 31 654 986

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