IIeX Healthcare 2016: Innovation Quicksand

Lisa Courtade, Head, Global Customer Brand Insights at Merck & Co. and President of MRII, chaired a plenary panel titled, “Innovation Quicksand in Healthcare, “ at the recent IIeX Health 2016 Conference in Philadelphia. Panelists were Charlotte Sibley and Bart Weiner, healthcare industry icons and also MRII Board members.

Lisa began by sharing several slides from MRII Board Member and Researchscape founder Jeffrey Henning’s survey assessing the career risk and reward that comes with introducing new, innovative research methods. Charlotte and Bart shared their war stories, having been fired — and hired — as a result of promoting new ways of doing healthcare research. They also shared some lessons learned.

First, the overall corporate culture is key. Is innovation celebrated or discouraged within the organization? How is risk perceived? Is it possible to do a stealth pilot or parallel study to demonstrate the potential for success? The rewards for introducing the right innovation for the right business problem at the right time are considerable for both the company and the individual. The secret is to understand the culture and work within it.

Second, understand the barriers to adoption of new methods and how to overcome them. On the agency side, classic examples are the tendency for people to always prefer to “do what I know/what I did before” or the well known “when I have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” On the client side, the key barriers are time, money, risk aversion, inertia (it takes energy to educate internal colleagues on “the new!”), and the difficulty of engaging a new agency through procurement.

Third, panel members emphasized the importance of ongoing education and “keeping up with new methods” that have the potential to add value. The panel recommended conferences such as IIeX; attending meetings of other industries (tech, financial, consumer); reading widely, including outside of your industry; inviting agencies to present at  “Lunch & Learns;” and, of course, cultivating a strong foundation or tool box from the core body of market research upon which to build.

Suggested takeaways for the audience included:

  • Networking with as many people as possible.
  • Asking agencies to describe the most interesting new thing in their armamentarium.
  • Being honest about when and when not to employ a new method.
  • Identifying one or two new ideas you can use today.

The audience was sympathetic but also shared that they valued the appreciation that innovation can be difficult and that it does, indeed, carry some risk.

Finally, MRII is proud to announce a new partnership with the PMRG that will expand the study, hopefully to include more healthcare market researchers. The PMRG plans to unveil the expanded study at the upcoming PMRG Connect, May 1-3 at the Gaylord National Harbor in Baltimore and share the results out at the PMRG Institute in October.

Anyone wishing to take the survey can do so here.

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