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The Time is Now to Reimagine Insights in Health

September 1, 2022
Katy Palmer, PhD

Katy Palmer, PhD

SVP Health

The time is now for the health industry to change the way insights are gathered from key customers. COVID pushed this industry into a full-on digital transformation and insight teams need to keep transforming too.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a true veteran in the health market insights industry having spent 25+ years collecting data for my clients. I can still recall sending out a few paper and pencil surveys and writing CATI phone scripts. However, I did come in on the tail end of that century and clearly recall how the Internet and web surveys transformed the insights world in the early 2000s. Those decades could be coined the “second generation” of insights. Faster turn-times, increased data accuracy, and the ability to test video, along with many other benefits, resulted in rapid adoption and dominance in how we conducted research for the first 20 years of this century and still do today. However, as many of us know, the glamour and benefits have waned, and we now face several key barriers with the traditional web-based and email-deployed survey.

To begin, we struggle to even get respondents to engage with surveys. Email invites are lost in the onslaught of daily emails. Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) are busier than ever, and consumers (patients and members) are on the go. Which brings me to another barrier around response rates. In this mobile world, invites are often ignored because they are not read in an environment conducive to a 20-30min online survey.

The next key barrier today is what I would call “survey malaise.” While many of today’s surveys can be taken on a smartphone/tablet, the survey designs are still the same as they were 20+ years ago; too long, with complex questions and often large sets of monotonous grids. Many respondents react one of two ways to this, they either quit the survey if it is too tedious, or worse, they go on “autopilot,” completing the survey without any thought. This results in 1) lower completion rates, 2) data quality issues and 3) increased dissatisfaction with survey taking. It has become a downward spiral. A respondent takes a boring/tedious survey and has an unpleasant experience. The next invite arrives, and they ignore it unless swayed by the incentive and then take the survey half-heartedly. The insights industry has reached a critical juncture.

Enter Reach3 Insights. The founders recognized this growing need and created the idea of a third generation for insights, known as “Conversational Insights.” The premise is that people converse very differently today with the adoption of mobile-based, short-messaging technologies (SMS, IM, etc.). Hence, engaging individuals where they are (via their mobile device), in the way they communicate (via shorter chat-like structures), allows for a more organic / natural interaction and an improved experience. Not to mention, better data quality.

In 2018, Reach3 launched their innovative conversational insights platform to the research industry. Clients like J&J, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Hyundai all quickly recognized the superior outcomes and value of mobile messaging-based conversational insights. And research participants also indicate the experience is better too.

In a comparative study we conducted with consumers taking the same survey via our conversational chat approach or a traditional survey, we demonstrated several key benefits of our chat approach.

1. Chatting is easier 

Seventy-seven percent of respondents completing via our chat approach indicated it was “very easy” to complete compared to 68% of those taking a traditional survey.


2. The experience is better 

Sixty-three percent of respondents taking the chat survey indicated they enjoyed taking the survey much more than other surveys, compared to 46% taking the traditional survey.



Open-end responses substantiated the quantitative results with comments including:


We also would note that the survey approach did not affect who completed the survey. Both gender and age were similar among samples.

In addition to our own data, researchers at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania recently published data that demonstrates consumers are more self-disclosing and provide more honest answers when using their smartphones (Melumad and Meyer, Journal of Marketing 2020 84(3):28-45). Hence, data from online chats are more likely to be richer and higher in quality than traditional surveys.

Having spent my career in healthcare market research where the respondent pools are more limited, plummeting response rates and data quality is a real issue, I was growing weary of the viability of traditional online research. Once introduced to Reach3’s novel conversational approach, I was quickly sold and excited for how this could truly benefit my health clients. I was fortunate to join the Reach3 team this past May, along with my colleague Brad Perkins, and together we are excited to start leveraging Reach3’s conversational approach deeper into the health industry.

Dr. Seuss once wrote in the opener of one of his books, “The time has come, the time is now.” I honestly believe the time has come, the time is now for the health industry to change the way insights are gathered from key customers. COVID pushed this industry into a full-on digital transformation and insight teams need to keep transforming too. I look forward to working with our Health clients and watching their reactions as they experience the power of conversational insights!

Stay tuned for our future blogs where we will report on some RoR (research on research) around HCP and patients experience participating in our conversational chats.

Katy Palmer, PhD
Katy Palmer, PhD

SVP Health

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