How to answer questions without asking questions?

Last Thursday I presented at a BHBIA workshop which outlined various approaches to patient research. In a full room, pharmaceutical clients and agencies alike discussed and learned about what works and what doesn’t in the world of the new empowered patient. Healthcare research is an exciting and dynamic place to be, said Jon Freeman, director of Synovate Research when he introduced the day long session.
He was followed by presenter Adam Gac, who outlined the specific challenges of recruiting patients. Adam’s emphasis was based on his long experience and he combined more classical approaches to recruitment with examples of how to work online.
The next part of the seminar focused on observational research. I introduced this part and outlined the reasons for using these methods and what insights this can generate compared to survey or interview techniques. As a key instrument of observational research, this was followed by my session about Netnography as a method which explores the increasing universe of patient generated content. I highlighted the workings of this method by sharing details of a project we did with UCB on epilepsy in 2009. A key part of the discussion on this exciting new topic was about how to play within the ESOMAR and BHBIA code of conduct and adverse events guidelines and also whether this is a quantitative or qualitative technique. Our definition is that it is both. It allows quantitative tracking with a huge conversation universe as base, but at the same time allows for a deep and rich qualitative analysis. Also I indicated the various limitations and often sought after combinations with other types of research (such as Netno-Etno or Netno–Online Community) before handing over to Nick Leon from the Naked Eye, who demonstrated the use of co-research using video etnography with patients.
After the final break we also covered new developments when Andy Evens demonstrated a new application on the iPhone allowing photo and video netnography. As closing, we split in 4 teams to do a group exercise and design a research approach around a particular Therapy Area and problem – and how patient research could play a role here. The focus in my team was how to use patient research to encourage patients to visits their GP in the area of erectile disfunction (ED). A very enthusiastic and rich discussion followed which was the idea close of a very useful and insightful day!

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