Allie Dautrich, member of HRW’s specialist team of behavioural scientists HRW Shift, recently attended the Intellus Worldwide Regional Conference Event in New Jersey. Allie was particularly looking forward to the different learning sessions and gives a detailed account of her highlights.

As we went around the table of strangers describing our most cherished items from our grandparents’ home, the room buzzed with excitement for the heart-warming tales of a kitchen table stacked with homemade sweets a Grandmother had made to feed any passerby in her neighborhood, and a bible annotated with notes by a Grandfather who tracked centuries of family genealogy. For a moment, we were the participants in a projective exercise, and it allowed us all to forget the next session on our schedule or the emails piling up in our inboxes (which are always difficult to ignore regardless of an out of office status). As we listened to and got lost in the personal stories of our table companions, it was easy to forget we were at a healthcare market research conference.

The Intellus Worldwide Regional Conference Event, hosted by Daiichi Sankyo in Basking Ridge New Jersey, offered a variety of content reflective of the heterogenous perspectives brought together by the market research industry. There was not an explicit theme to the day, but the streamlined sessions seamlessly transitioned from individual decision making to large organization influencers in the healthcare space. The final sessions built on these micro and macro considerations as season experts offered their perspective on what is to come in the industry, capturing the attention of a diverse audience of representatives from pharmaceutical companies, full research suppliers, and recruiters.

Micro considerations in the morning:

As a member of our behavior science applications unit (HRW Shift), I was initially drawn to the morning sessions which focused on behavioral science themes. Dr. Neale Martin kicked off the day by emphasizing the importance of habit when designing behavior change interventions, particularly with healthcare apps. Then Lisa Lipkin’s talk on ‘The Neuroscience of Narratives’ effectively communicated the power of narratives through captivating stories and projective technique activities. The impact of her session was clear as speakers referred to her content throughout the day, demonstrating our fundamental susceptibility to an emotional connection and the importance of a clear story.

Macro influences in the mid-afternoon:

In the afternoon, the content evolved into discussions with a wider scope as Heather Lee Whipple spoke about the emerging influence of ICER (the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review) and Wayne Pines discussed the current priorities of the Food and Drug Administration (including drug access/pricing, the opioid crisis, vaping as well as an expected focus on oncological therapies as experimental therapies approach approval status). Both sessions emphasized the influence of each regulatory authorities highlighting the importance of bigger picture contextual considerations while conducting market research within the United States.

Moving forward in healthcare market research:

As we approached the end of the day, the focus shifted toward tangible tools and ideas for ways to incorporate the micro and macro considerations in the future of market research. Traci Gusher representing KPMG took us through case studies of more efficient AI data cleaning and mining tools, and Wes Michael from Rare Patient Voice, provided tips and tricks when approaching a difficult recruit. The day concluded with a panel of seasoned industry leaders who offered professional development advice based on past experiences and future expectations.

Throughout the day, regardless of an emphasis on micro/individual decision-making tendencies versus macro/holistic environmental factors, the presenters referenced Lisa Lipkin’s talk as they shared personal anecdotes and emotional stories to connect with the audience. Although the regional event didn’t advertise a specific theme, it was clear that the “Neuroscience of Narratives” talk resonated with everyone in attendance. As data storytellers at HRW, we often discuss how a strong narrative can facilitate engagement with insights and help our clients communicate the benefits of their brand, to Lisa Lipkin’s point: “There is no greater way to bring a message to life than through the power of a good story.”

As a behavioral science consultant however, I would be remiss not to call attention to how quick and willing we are to buy into a narrative as a cautionary tale! As critical market researchers, we at HRW often discuss how this tendency can distort our logical thinking. Not only is storytelling a powerful tool to leverage in our methodologies and presentations, but it is also an important blind spot to consider as we aim to limit our own biases as much as possible as market researchers.


By Allie Dautrich

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