There are so many opportunities for ‘positive disruption’ to make pharmaceutical market research better and more effective. And ‘positive disruption’ was the theme for this year’s British Healthcare Business Intelligence Association (BHBIA) conference, which took place May 8th and 9th at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. From the start of the conference, keynote speakers and invited presenters discussed revolutionary ideas, new technologies, and innovation: all in the name of getting closer to deeper human truths and delivering more impactful insights.

As this is a theme that has formed the basis of our evidence-based approach to innovation, we delighted in the discussions and revelled in catching up with existing clients and peers and making new connections.

As innovation is a key strength at HRW, we were delighted to be invited to share two papers on the main stage in the market research parallel sessions:

First, recent ‘Most Innovative Approach’ award winners Jess Woodhead (Senior Research Manager) and Katy Irving (Head of Innovation) shared a paper showcasing our most recent piece of self-funded research. Their paper was titled ‘Get Real: How virtual and augmented reality provides a positive disruption for market research stimulus’. They opened the session by saying to the audience; ‘we’re here today to talk to you about reality – how realistic is the market research environment?’, and from there, their paper evaluated some common challenges (including psychological biases) that can mean that market research interview stimulus (for example, patient and product profiles), are not received by respondents in a realistic way, making the process overly rational, less engaging, and perhaps even a bit boring for participants.

Katy and Jess then discussed results from our study with GPs treating hypertension, where the same patient profile content was presented in four different formats (paper, infographic, augmented reality, and virtual reality). Looking comparatively they were able to show how even simple modifications to stimulus format can help to increase respondent engagement; improving their body language and the depth of their reaction to the content. Showing that ultimately, even simple and free amends to stimulus format (such as an infographic) improved the extent to which physicians considered the patient and their needs when making decisions.

Then in the following session, Associate Directors Sam Fernando and Cathy Haw revealed ground-breaking new patent-pending smart sensors being developed by our consumer sister agency, MMR. In their paper, ‘Tagged and Bagged: How adherence behaviour can be tracked and positively disrupted’, Cathy and Sam opened their paper by saying that although a lot of time is dedicated to understanding every facet of the customer journey, what happens post-prescription is often neglected, and this is because adherence is the ‘elephant in the room’. They went on to describe how relying on self-reported adherence can give an inaccurate account of how adherent and concordant patients really are.

They then showcased two of the sensors being developed that provide a potential solution to this problem, an adhesive sensor and a weighing sensor; both of which can be used to passively track adherence in the real world rather than asking patients. A video clip of the project inventor, Simon Williams, introduced the idea and technology behind the sensors. During their paper Sam and Cathy described how the sensors work and some practical limitations and benefits from HRW’s internal experimentation (due to European consumer device CE approval, they are not yet licenced to be used with real external respondents, but the HRW team have planned a self-funded real-patient trial later this year). They described the limitations, including how an extended embedding period would be required to mitigate the Hawthorne effect: reducing the extent to which seeing the sensor and participating in the project would drive adherence behaviour. They also described the benefits, how a link with the user’s mobile phone would help reduce common user errors (charging, placement on even surfaces etc), or how if desired you could explore the user experience for consumer health or OTC products through issuing a push survey in the moment of actual product use.

Overall we enjoyed our time at the conference; plenty of opportunities to catch up with our contacts and discuss the ‘positive disruptions’ shaping up to be the future of our industry.

For more information about the conference, visit the BHBIA website.

For more information about our self-funded research and innovations, get in touch.

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