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Inside TAB Healthcare

Learnings from 2018 EphMRA conference
July 24, 2018

We like travelling, meeting people and keeping up-to-date in market research. This is why every year we look forward to June so that we can get away from our offices and attend the EphMRA conference. Since our foundation and for the tenth consecutive year, TAB Healthcare has been present in EphMRA (Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Basel, Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and, a few days ago, we just went back to Basel).

In addition to the excitement of meeting clients and colleagues from the industry, this year’s conference has been especially inspiring from the viewpoint of the use of innovative technologies in qualitative research. Hands down technology will play a key role in the future of market research, and EphMRA 2018 has opened our minds to very interesting lines of work. In that sense, it was especially revealing to attend the session given by the Social Media Consultant Ross Taylor named ‘The Future of Social Listening’, chaired by our old friend Amr Khalil, Ripple International. In this session, we found out how to get relevant insights through the latest technology and artificial intelligence developments. It seems that facial recognition software can help recognise expressions and emotions that go unnoticed by the human eye. Clearly this kind of technology is opening thrilling doors in market research, but it also poses big questions: Will the machine end up replacing the moderator? The future is exciting but also a bit scary.


The conversation we had with Marianne FillionDiaceutics, was also very inspiring. We already attended Diaceutics’ presentation at the Intellus conference earlier this year in Philadelphia, and we found it very interesting to see how they focus the research on the patient. When we learned that Marianne would also be at EphMRA we couldn’t help tracking her down to understand her particular approach to market research a little better. Marianne was lovely and told us that her main goal is to drive better testing to enable better treatment decisions for patients. In that sense, being tested for a certain biomarker may mean that the patient can still be alive. We feel attached to these ideas, because here at TAB Healthcare we are really motivated with patient research and believe that the end goal of any healthcare market research should be the improvement of their quality of life. And to improve patients’ quality of life, we need to listen to them, give them a voice. And this is what we loved about Intellus, real patients who spoke up and told us their experiences. At EphMRA, we were not able to hear patients’ voices directly but we attended several sessions that focused on their needs, like the interesting sessions by Dinisha CherodianIncite, or Neil Rees, The EarthWorks.

It was also very interesting for us to attend the session given by Ursula Kraus-Meeder, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Angela Duffy, The Research Partnership, named ‘STOP PRESS: How researchers became journalists to champion the voice of the customer’. This session went deeper into how important it is for the researcher to communicate the insights discovered in a research project in an impactful manner and to develop skills to convey those insights in a way that catches the audience’s attention.

We also took on board what the Communication Specialist Richard Newman said in his session ‘How to increase your impact and influence’. It’s a pity that he focused on oral communication strategies, because we can’t apply his ideas to convey messages in a more engaging and memorable manner in this blog.

Finally, a critical topic for our industry was also largely discussed at EphMRA 2018: GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The new regulation increases the protection of personal data and limits the free movement of such data. Here at TAB Healthcare we have always been fully committed to respecting people and the confidentiality of their identity. We have made great efforts to adjust to the GDPR, and it has been very interesting to interact with market research agencies, fieldwork agencies and pharmaceutical companies to try and find common ground to ensure that the GDPR not only means increased paperwork but also protecting citizens better.

And, like every year, we walked around the Agency Fair to say hi to old friends (Ripple, The Research Partnership, A+A, QualWorld, Elma, M3…) and meet new companies in the industry. It was interesting to talk with Carolyn Chamberlain, Assure BrandPanels, as they explained the strategies they use to detect hackers and impostors in online market research. This is a good time to remind you that, if you want the best respondents, there isn’t a better partner in Spain for qual research than TAB Healthcare. 😉

The EphMRA conference just lasts three days, but they are three very intense days, full of inspiring ideas. We take away many learnings from Basel, but if we had to summarise, we would highlight the following 3:

  1. Social media and artificial intelligence allow us to have an unprecedented amount of data and information that will need to be decoded in an insightful manner. They will also allow us to discover new applications that may someday replace the doctor with artificial intelligence able to overcome human skills.
  2. Innovative techniques are being developed to connect and understand who the patient really is. We hope this is not just a marketing strategy but a way to substantially improve their lives.
  3. The new GDPR shouldn’t be considered only as a bureaucratic burden but as an opportunity to improve the confidentiality of citizens.

This would be our summary of EphMRA 2018. Just like every year, we’ve enjoyed the event and we are already looking forward to 2019 to travel to Poland… Warsaw… It sounds great!