Innovating Outside of the Pill

Pharma brands in Europe traditionally keep their distance from patients because legislation prevents marketing to them; so many are reluctant to communicate with them in case they overstep the line. But by creating safe, compliant spaces these challenges are surmountable. And when you’re dealing with a global health epidemic the scale of HIV, brave, fresh approaches are just what’s needed.

C Space

At C Space, online communities have been our bread and butter for more than 17 years. Even speaking with more than 20,000 consumers across the world every year, comments like this are rare:

“In 1994, when I was initially diagnosed in the very early stages of HIV, only gay men filled the clinics, hospitals and support groups. Gradually, I have seen more women in the same places. HIV has touched people in every socio-economic stratosphere. Be thankful for what ViiV is doing for us.”  ViiV Community Member

It’s rare for a lot of different reasons – because it’s virtually impossible to recruit folks like Matt given the taboo nature of his disease, because such authentic disclosure is hard to achieve even without such sensitivities, because we don’t often see participants thanking the brands that own their communities and, more than anything else, because you just don’t see pharma brands getting close to patients in Europe.

Pharma brands in Europe traditionally keep their distance from patients because legislation prevents marketing to them; so many pharma brands are reluctant to communicate with them in case they overstep the line. But by creating safe, compliant spaces these challenges are surmountable. And when you’re dealing with a global health epidemic the scale of HIV, brave, fresh approaches are just what’s needed. ViiV established The Hive, a specialist HIV digital innovation unit to create exactly those approaches.

“It is innovation beyond the pill”, says Thom Van Every, executive director of the Hive Innovation Unit. “We look at building and testing prototypes for patients with HIV or the healthcare professionals who look after them, contributing to the HIV ecosystem in a digital and tech way. We do ‘sprint’ projects, a tech term for quick projects, where we’re trying to test and learn, test and learn in an iterative way. Involving patients, doctors or users through online communities is a fantastic way to get quick feedback in order to adjust our ideas.”

ViiV has used this co-creation approach successfully in several ways, says Van Every. “In one project we were looking at the unmet needs of patients with HIV in the UK. Our original view very much focused on unmet clinical needs but the [online] community told us that the big issues were not really clinical, more those issues that affect the lives of patients outside the clinic. We wouldn’t have gained this insight if we didn’t ask the community about things like how they get travel insurance when they go on holiday and how they know which countries will throw them out if they find out they’re HIV+ or how to interact with social services if they’re an illegal immigrant with HIV. These kinds of insights are off the radar if you only focus on the clinical space.”

Another project is a peer-to-peer mentoring app in the US. “We wanted to understand when in their journey with HIV would patients most would value support. The obvious one is diagnosis, of course, but the community helped us find other ‘flex points’ – for example, if you get another illness and experience drug interactions or if you’re in a new relationship,” he says.

Over time, the relationship with community members can become an intimate one. The communities are invitation only; they are also closed, safe environments for members to discuss whatever they want to discuss. We analyse the naturally occurring discussions and bring those insights back to our clients, helping identify themes they might want to explore.

It is common for a topic to arise that over time we develop a research project around, using the very people who started the conversation. It is a great way for them to feel that we are really listening – they know that if they raise a topic, something might come from it.

Members know they’re not just there to answer surveys or be a data point; they are part of the conversation.

You may be interested in:

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer, AMA: Engaging Physicians in a Digital Age

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer, AMA: Engaging Physicians in a Digital Age Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Founded in 1847, the American Medical Association has a long history of advocating for physicians and advancing medicine in the United...

In Print: Our best thinking

In Print: Our best thinking delivered to your desk Every quarter, we publish the very best thinking from across our global network in In Print. It’s a physical magazine that brings together brilliant ideas, provocative thinking & our very latest insights. Everything...

The Right Insight

The Right Insight What makes a successful customer insights leader? Here’s a guide to the challenges and strategies of some of the best in the business. Robert Howie is Managing Director of growth at C Space, and previously led the...

Where Net Promoter Score Goes Wrong

Where Net Promoter Score Goes Wrong

by Christina Stahlkopf (C Space)
HBR

We surveyed over 2,000 consumers across the United States and the United Kingdom to take a fresh look at consumer advocacy behavior, free of any preconceptions or assumptions. The result: our Earned Advocacy Score™. Based on definable behavior that maps out detailed, clear, actionable data, our framework unpacks the context of actual earned advocacy, uncovers what is really driving the conversation, and provides targeted strategies for growth. Christina Stahlkopf, Associate Director at customer agency C Space, digs deeper…

Kelly Leonard, The Second City: Improv and Business Share the Same Stage

Kelly Leonard, The Second City: Improv and Business Share the Same Stage Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: The Second City is arguably the most renowned and important improv institution in the world. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert all honed...

Safi Bahcall: Why Do Good Companies Kill Great Ideas?

Safi Bahcall: Why Do Good Companies Kill Great Ideas? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Disruptive innovation. Visionary leaders. Innovative culture. All phrases you’ve likely seen before in your LinkedIn feed, heard in TED Talks, or read in business...

Nicolaj Siggelkow & Christian Terwiesch: Advantages of a Connected Strategy

Nicolaj Siggelkow & Christian Terwiesch: Advantages of a Connected Strategy Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Companies like Disney, Nike, Amazon, and Netflix are all creating continuous relationships with customers by implementing a “connected...

Bari Harlam, CMO, Hudson’s Bay Company: Inside the Strategy of an Icon

Bari Harlam, CMO, Hudson’s Bay Company: Inside the Strategy and Culture of an Icon Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: From direct-to-consumer to augmented reality shopping, the retail industry is experiencing massive – and rapid – change. It’s not just...

Americus Reed II: Brands and Identity Loyalty

Americus Reed II: Brands and Identity Loyalty Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: An identity theorist is someone who studies how people come to adopt certain visions or desired images of themselves. It’s a term created by Americus Reed II, Professor of...

Jeremy Schwartz: Lead with a Clear Purpose

Jeremy Schwartz: Lead with a Clear Purpose Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: These days, it seems like most companies are talking about their “purpose.’ Those that aren’t are searching for one. But how does purpose get defined? Who defines it? And how...