Using Online Bulletin Boards to Generate Actionable Insights


Rare Disease, Blood Disorders


Customer Engagement, Patient Engagement, Market Research


Like many disease states, the rare disease care model was greatly impacted by COVID-19, with many HCPs adopting telemedicine. One of our clients specializing in rare disease wanted to understand where there might be opportunities for their company to provide innovative and practical support to these HCPs. In-person research was not possible due to pandemic restrictions.

  • Patients receive care from specialty physicians and from an extended team, who provide comprehensive services in a treatment center model: nurses, social workers, physical therapists, orthopedists, and other care providers.
  • Traditionally, in-person visits to monitor disease progression are most accurate because they involve a physical exam.
  • While great strides were made to adapt traditional educational and promotional materials into a format that could be distributed by email, they were slow to adopt more innovative digital and virtual strategies to help in delivering care in this specific rare disease state, particularly given the constraints of COVID-19.
  • Two 3-day online bulletin board market research sessions were conducted.
  • Online bulletin boards are a research method in which participants exchange ideas in private online chat boards accessible via desktop, tablet, or mobile. The moderator posted questions from the discussion guide to which the participants responded, and participants also interacted with each other.
  • There were 2 boards, one for physicians and one for non-physician decision-makers in the treatment center environment. The boards were run simultaneously.
  • In this market research initiative, participants hailed from 16 different states in the U.S. in key regions of interest to the client. We were able to recruit heavily from the client’s target list as well as publicly available sources.
  • Bulletin board sessions were asynchronous, allowing participants to log on and contribute at their convenience within two 4-hour windows; this flexible scheduling greatly reduced the chances for cancellations or “no-shows.”
  • The 3-day boards resulted in 1836 total posts, an amount of commentary that may have taken weeks to accomplish using a traditional research format.
  • There was an average of 66 posts per participant over the 3 days, indicating deep and continued engagement not only with the discussion prompts, but with the other participants.
  • Participants generated 70 ideas for initiatives or resources, enabling pharma to help deliver real, meaningful benefits to provide the best patient care in today’s pandemic environment, and in the future, as telemedicine evolves.
  • Positive feedback from the client:
    • “Thank you! This was a great piece of research.”
    • “I’ve never seen a market research project generate so many insights in such a short period of time.”
  • Positive feedback from participants:
    • “I was able to reflect on what providers and patients are going through during the pandemic. It was reassuring to see that other providers are facing issues like mine.”
    • “It was interesting to see my colleagues’ utilization of resources to help patients…I certainly learned a lot.”
    • “This was stimulating and enjoyable.”


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