Reality-based research – do you know what it is really all about?

I Word Cloudam often asked to explain to both agency colleagues and clients what the Behavioral Insights team does, and how it differs from other kinds of research.

Here is what I tell them…

Years ago, one strategically minded agency leader thought that he could do a much better job helping his pharmaceutical marketing and advertising clients if he knew what was really said when physicians and patients got together for their visits. He was right. Years later, we have recorded over 4,000 office visits and 8,000 corresponding post-visit interviews with healthcare professionals in over 20 therapeutic categories, along with their patients and often their loved ones—creating a whole lot of words and actions to analyze. Now we have a much better understanding of physician and patient dialogue and behavior—and a lot of insight into what goes on during real-world interactions in healthcare.

Over time we have broadened our offerings, but overall, we conduct primary research in real-world settings that focuses on healthcare dialogue and behavior. We do this by accessing techniques such as ethnography to observe our targets in physicians’ offices, their homes and work places, and while on the go. We analyze the data with sociolinguistic techniques. By monitoring social media, we can even take a look at what they write about online in open forums, and analyze their dialogue. We know that when a person feels less inhibited by the constraints they often experience when talking with healthcare professionals in person, they are able to ask questions and raise topics they normally shy away from.

From years of studying human behavior, we also know that what people say they do and what they actually do are not always aligned. We have heard it all, from asthma patients saying their daily lives are not impacted yet they gave away their beloved pet and ripped out their carpets, to spinal cord injury patients saying they accept their condition, but refusing to put a ramp in front of their home. We look to get under the surface and understand what is really happening, where there are gaps in communication, and what the intended and unintended consequences of these interactions are.Dialogue

We don’t stop there. Does the term computational linguistics sound intriguing to you? If so, you’re not alone. We can take a look at millions of words by using industry publications and see what words are most often used together and the frequency of words used to help your clients describe and own the scientific and clinical story.

Knowing so many of my colleagues are curious by nature, I am guessing you really want to know what we learned from our many years of doing this research! Well, you don’t have to wait much longer because we have a white paper, Top 7 Insights from Years of Observing Real-world Healthcare Communication, coming out shortly from our very own sociolinguist, Katy Hewett!

Of course, you can also just ask us! In fact, if you work directly with clients, make sure to talk to us about how we can share these exciting and unique offerings with them, and discuss what benefits these different offerings have for your brand.

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