A word from Magali Geens

Magali Geens is Director Health Research at InSites Consulting.
What’s the new ‘buzz word’ in your domain? What does it mean and what do we do with it?
“Patient Participation” expresses the growing involvement of patients in the management of their health. More than ever patients are entering the dialogue about their health. Patients used to go to their physician to get diagnosed and treated. Today, ever more patients look up information about their condition first. With the aid of “Doctor Google” a self-diagnosis is made, printed and taken to the generalist. The internet really allows patients to participate and to voice an opinion about their condition, their preferred treatment and even the brand of medication they’d prefer. We see that patients that participate more actively also have a bigger influence in the patient-physician conversation.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the innovative research techniques we have successfully applied in the health domain, a domain that is typically referred to as one of the more traditional sectors. Together with a number of our health clients, we have made great things happen. E.g. doing online group discussions with specialist physicians that were physically spread over 10 different countries, patient community research with Multiple Sclerosis patients covering very emotional experiences, text mining on patient blogs after scraping them from the internet…  In close consultation with our clients and our R&D team, we have made incredible things happen which we are very proud of.
What do you want to warn marketers/market researchers about, now and in the future?
I hope we can inspire health marketers and specialized market researchers to display an open mind for patient research. Health professionals obviously remain a very important target group, but we cannot longer ignore the growing importance of patients in the decision making processes either. Besides that, I would also challenge marketers to consider new ways to do the old things better.
What has surprised you lately?
I was positively surprised to learn from our Pan-European Patient Study (data collected spring 2009), that it is mainly the older patients (55-69) who most intensively use the internet for health related matters (more than the 25 year olds!). Also the most active patient participation (in the conversation with the doctor) is found in the same age group. So let us all put aside some of our prejudices about the internet: our most important patient groups are already online and we should be there as well.
What did your morning look like today?
At home I have a baby Shetland pony that is ill. My brother bought her for me as a birthday present and she arrived earlier this week. The little one suffers “shipping fever”.  So after a fresh cup of coffee I have put on my Wellingtons and stepped outside to comb her (her name is Ruby) and administer her antibiotics – or at least try. The medication is a big pack of white powder. Animal lovers have to be very creative to get the animal to eat the drug. I tried it on a toast mixed with honey, a marmalade sandwich, dissolved in sugar water… and still Ruby would not swallow it. So on the way to the office I was reflecting upon the lack of “Pet Participation” in their health management. I will definitely give that drug company a call this morning! Tonight I will have to be more creative even if I want Ruby to get well soon.
Let’s end with a ‘quote of the day’!
Patients have clearly entered the dialogue about their health, it is time we all addressed them.
Contact Magali on Magali.Geens@InSites.eu , +32(0)9 269 16 04, +32 (0)497 523 526.

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