Last week, me and my colleague Faye Holmes (Senior Research Manager) attended the annual conference of the European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association (EphMRA) in Warsaw.
I’ve been involved with EphMRA for many years, and was invited to join the Executive Board as one of only five Agency Representatives in 2017- whilst for Faye, this was her first attendance: so, I was interested to accompany her for this trip to see how she found this experience with fresh eyes.
For many of us working in pharma insights, the EphMRA conference is a yearly highlight, and this year was no exception: with nearly 250 attendees from both, industry and agency, you were pretty much guaranteed to find some shared interests (and often shared acquaintances) with just about anyone you spoke to. The Mediterranean temperatures, which stayed in the 30s until late evening, contributed to good spirits and a great atmosphere throughout the event.
Many of this year’s papers focused on the dual themes of new technologies and data sources on the one hand; and patient centricity on the other – two topics, which on the surface may not seem to have much in common, but in fact revealed a surprising number of connection points.
This included sessions on building interactive patient pathways, with an overlay of the emotional journey via patient recorded video clips at each milestone from Janssen and Cello; the use of chat bots to encourage detailed in-the-moment feedback in patient online diaries from Pfizer together with SKIM; as well as a great example by Pfizer and InSite Vision of exploring the realities of the smoking cessation journey via an online community, which not only revealed deep, new insights and led to genuinely touching videos of first-hand experiences, but which was clearly also cathartic and healing for the participants.
One of my personal favourite sessions was not ‘digital’ at all though: Marie-Claude Gervais of Versiti and Shae Eccleston, a cancer survivor, talked about ‘hard to reach’ – or rather: ‘seldom heard’ oncology patients from diverse minority backgrounds, and reminded the audience of the importance to remain alert to our own (unconscious) biases and the need to reflect the experiences of different patient groups in our research.
If you would like to know more, and you or your company are an EphMRA member, you will be able to download all conference presentations in due course via this link: https://www.ephmra.org/resources/conferences/
Another highlight of the conference every year are the many networking opportunities, be it with new contacts or old colleagues and friends from all over Europe, and indeed the world. The traditional EphMRA social on the Wednesday night benefitted particularly from the glorious weather and outside location, resulting in a fun evening with even some rumours of actual dancing taking place in the later hours…. The fact that Faye was honoured as a joint runner up for EphMRA’s Future Leaders MR Excellence Case Study Award made it even more special for us (and made me very proud to be working with such talented peers!).
I always return from the EphMRA conference full of inspiration and new ideas to try out and I am already looking forward to 2020 in Antwerp. Maybe we will see you there?
By Fenna Gloggner