TforG’s expertise in China

2014 is the start of a new episode for TforG in China. Almost 8 years ago, TforG started to explore the Chinese market, building up KOL networks and liaising with decision makers in hospitals, healthcare administrators and MOH members throughout the country.

This article will be the first in a series of three articles about our presence and capabilities in the Asian market.
The main topics will be:

Article 1: TforG’s Expertise in China
Article 2: Commitment to our Asian customers
Article 3: TforG’s products and services for the Chinese markets

The current article will provide further insights on:

  1. how the TforG team is organized to provide high quality business intelligence in China;
  2. the type of expertise we have already built up; and
  3. how we are prepared to respond to our client’s requirements.

By 2010 we were able to create an operational hub to run projects in the Chinese market. Later on, in 2011, TforG continued its steady progress with the establishment of a new headquarters in Dalian. This latest venture allowed us to further expand our expertise in product development and we put together our field research team with a specific focus on the Chinese Market.
Our goals for 2015 include the opening of a new commercial site in Shanghai. The aim of this organization is to provide highly specialized data acquisition services for the Chinese markets.

TforG’s expertise in China

TforG has always worked tirelessly to develop its skills and “know-how” in various areas. Since 2006, we have heavily invested in the expansion of our coverage of the world’s emerging markets, beginning with Asia.

Given the great need to get a better view on the Chinese market, our plans for expansion to China moved quite rapidly:

  • In April 2010, a TforG China Operation hub was created in Shanghai.
  • In July 2011, a formal TforG company was created in Dalian. This office is home to the TforG IT team for product development and our project team for project management.

Our initial efforts focused on establishing an extensive network and formal meeting routines with:

  • National, regional (East and South regions) and municipal political and health care authorities.
  • National & Regional Medical Associations

During the following 5 years, TforG began cooperating with several highly reputed universities in order to develop patient flows and Chinese market related models for research. Our list of partnering universities include:

– Dalian Medical University (Liaoning Province)
– Beijing University
– Shanghai Jiao Tong University
– Xi’an Jiao Tong University (Shaanxi Province)
– Sichuan University (Sichuan Province)
– Ningbo University (Zhejiang Province)
– Taipei Medical University (Taiwan)

Our offices oversees have also been able to set up formal cooperation agreements in 3rd and 2nd level hospitals in 10 provinces and 3 municipalities in China.

TforG China panel

Another large project for our China office was the expansion of the TforG China respondent panel, created to enhance our hospital networks. We have so far developed connections with over 100 hospitals in our database with direct access to Senior Managers and Heads of Department.

Our approach is to set up a partnership with these managers and involve them in our research. Our connections in this category also help us in further expanding our research scope to anywhere between 300 and 500 hospitals in Tier 1, 2 and 3:

  • Tier 3: are acute hospitals with typically more than 500 beds acting on a national level. Such hospitals having a high level of educational and research responsibilities as well.
  • Tier 2: are acute hospitals that have anywhere between 100 and 500 beds and serve more than 1 community.
  • Tier 1: are typically not larger than100 beds, and serve 1 community only.
  • Another interesting profile in our database are the Experts and Key Opinion Leaders, covering all major pathologies (assume 3 to 5 experts/KOLs per pathology).
  • Aside from the already mentioned contacts, TforG China has also been able to establish connections with a number of “VIP contacts” such as Policy Makers and Ministry of Health representatives (which we visit face-to-face every 3-4 months).

We are quite proud to report that our TforG China office does not outsource any interviews with any third parties, preferring to keep all research “inhouse” and in the hands of our own market specialists in the Dalian based regional headquarters.

Care-tracks and workflows

The above mentioned contacts work closely together with our Chinese field research team to design care paths across 150 different pathologies and we are currently working on another 100 routines to add to our database.

This has led to a high interest both from the industry and from providers. We have focused our efforts on the following medical specialisms:

– Cardio-vascular (32 flows completed): CHF (Chronic Heart Failure); Hypertension; CAD (Coronary Artery disease); CHD (Coronary Heart Disease); Syncope; etc.
– Neurology (30 flows completed): Stroke; Meningitis; Alzheimer’s disease; Multiple Sclerosis; Epilepsy; etc.
– Hematology (16 flows completed): MM (Multiple Myeloma); Leukemia – Acute/Chronic; Lymphoma; Hodgkin Lymphoma; Non Hodgkin Lymphoma; etc.
– ENT (30 flows completed)
– Oncology (ongoing): Liver Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Lymphoma completed.
– General Endocrinology (ongoing): Diabetes, Obesity completed.
– Urology (ongoing)
– Orthopedics/Plastic (Ongoing): Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis completed.
– Obstetrics and Gynecology (Ongoing)

TforG China’s off-the-shelf products

The information we have compiled so far has allowed us to develop some readily available products. TforG has 4 main off-the-shelf products in Asia, as follows:

  • Health Care Demographic Database (Available)
  • Asia Surgical Database (Available)
  • Patient Flows Models (Ongoing)
  • Healthcare system profile, which contains organizational and financial information as well as some additional inputs about priorities.

China Health Care demographic database (Available)

The China Health Care Demographic Database represents an overview of the main indicators that are necessary to get insights into the country’s socio-economic characteristics, hospital landscape and market.

The information is collected and retrieved from both public sources (e.g. MOH) and TforG’s own hospital-by-hospital field research. Each year TforG conducts over 10.000 interviews with hospital staff (i.e. hospital managers, surgeons, nurses and purchasers).

The demographic database is made up from combination of statistical data (quantitative information) and a power point presentation (qualitative data) entitled: “Country Context”.
The derived materials are extracted from the most recently available data.

Asia surgical database (Available)

Our Surgical database for Asia covers 5 regions, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.
Our methodology for this product includes a series of interviews with healthcare professionals in both hospitals and professional organizations. The interviews conducted were then used to validate our secondary research on surgical procedure volumes.

The surgical procedures database has been standardized using the ICD-9 system for comparison and further validated via interviews with physician experts and opinion leaders in each specialty (ENT, Cardiology, Orthopedics, etc.). Our procedures include both primary and secondary surgical and diagnostic procedures performed in Level 3 and Level 2 hospitals.
Procedure volumes are reported at a national level as well as by region (e.g. East, South, Central, North and West) and we now contain have information on a total of 615 procedures.

Healthcare system profile

The TforG healthcare system profile contains information on china’s marcoeconomics as well as up to date descriptions of the healthcare system structure, healthcare reforms and market practices.

Customized projects

In the past 5 years, the customized projects we have done have mostly been situated in the coastal East and South regions:

  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Jilin Province
  • Liaoning Province
  • Shandong Province
  • Zhejiang Province
  • Guangdong Province
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Xi’an

Responder version 3.0 (Launch scheduled in September 2014)

TforG Responder is a unique online platform that allows the user to search and cross reference the most extensive sets of healthcare information, both qualitatively and quantitatively. It provides direct access to market information giving you the right answers to take your analysis to a higher level.

Our main objective in the creation of this platform is to delineate and demonstrate the care routings for a number of pathologies.

Other benefits of our Responder Platform include:

– A Broader Analysis: With TforG Care Tracks visualize graphically the most common route of a patient’s treatment, while simultaneously displaying qualitative insights and latest market figures.
– Faster Answers: Find information immediately and at a more effective cost. No need to design, collect information or wait for project results.
– A single point of entry: Centralizing all the business intelligence insights and figures your company needs in just one place.
– Continuously updated data: From our specialized field research teams and consulting projects, updating reports and figures on a regular basis.

Desk research team

Information is collected and retrieved from various sources on a continuous basis by a team of desk researchers:

  • Ministry of Health in China
  • Statistical Department in China
  • International Organizations such as WHO, World Bank; Economy Watch, World Life Expectancy, WHO Western Pacific Region
  • Academic Reports

Field research capabilities

Information is collected and retrieved from hospital by hospital field research conducted internally by our own Market analysts. We currently split our samples by region.
Our field research skill set includes:

  • Creation and adjustment of questionnaires in Chinese
  • Recruitment & Training for specific projects
  • Pilot preparation
  • Field Testing
  • Planning and contact list creation
  • Face-to-face interviews; telephone interviews; online research; focus groups

So far, our Chinese team has experience conducting various types of research, including (but not limited to): competition information among brands (market shares), purchasing processes in different types of hospitals, satisfaction evaluation of products, etc.

In our next article – TforG’s commitment to its customers

Most of the work we have done so far has been commissioned by our traditional client base (i.e. US and Europe based companies). Our goal focus now is to reach out and expand our client base to include more Chinese companies.
Our next article will explore TforG’s strategies to meet the specific needs of our various clients. We have already learned that Chinese based companies have highly focused needs for business intelligence, requiring a great deal of quality and accuracy. Given what we have already learned in the Chinese markets (both commercial and operational), we feel certain that we can successfully rise up to the challenge and meet these needs.

About Zhen Nie

Zhen is in charge of Asian Operations at TforG, with more than 6 years of experience in project management and business consulting for local and international companies. She works in a continuous basis with an extensive network of Key Opinion Leaders and Health Policy makers in Asian markets. She graduated at the University of Antwerp and has a Master Degree in Finance. Tel: +32 3 201 64 24 Mobile: +32 485 89 98 84 Email: