Thursday 9 April 2009

Emotional Intelligence

Award-winning business intelligence that changes lives

Business intelligence means different things to different people. But underlying any business intelligence project two things are normally found:
  1. Desire to improve performance

  2. Quantitative analysis
The one thing you don’t see in the above list is emotion. You can’t quantify emotion, and it’s not an easy thing to manage. Which is why the work done at Pfizer to get an important new drug into the market is so interesting.

It took business intelligence specialists’ persistence to uncover emotional barriers to a new drug that makes the lives of HIV sufferers considerably more comfortable.

The problem
Celsentri is a new drug that can be taken orally to slow down the HIV virus in some patients. Trials have shown the drug to be both effective and well tolerated within certain groups. However, a test was needed to identify those who would benefit. In an increasingly commercialised medical world, the cost of the test was seen as a barrier. However – despite the test being made available free of charge, there was still resistance to prescribing the drug. Why? It didn’t make sense – it was better for the patient, and the barrier had been removed from the doctors.

The solution
The business intelligence team already realised there was a hidden barrier to prescribing the new drug. Research was commissioned which used a three-pronged approach:
  1. The research focused on before, during, and after the decision to switch treatment.

  2. In-home interviews were conducted to allow in-depth and open discussions. Patients were encouraged to talk about problems with the decision to change drugs, and how they were advised.

  3. Doctors were asked to map what they did, and when, onto a timeline. This removed ambiguity in discussions and allowed patterns to be seen in their decision making.
What emerged was that cost played little or no part in doctors’ reluctance to prescribe the drug. What was important were timescales to get results back, and that the test removed some of the decision-making away from skilled and experienced consultants. In other words, the reaction was part logical, and part emotional.

Pfizer changed the test, and with a renewed understanding of the problem, re-launched to a more accepting audience. As a result patients are now benefiting from a drug which is effective, and also easier to take.

Pfizer called their approach the Pfizer 6-D’s:
  • Define the question
  • Dig to address the question
  • Discover customer perspectives
  • Distill responses to build insights
  • Develop marketing programs based on customer insights
  • Deliver based on evidence
Unsurprisingly, the Business Intelligence specialist at Pfizer who oversaw the project, Andrew Sims, is now in line for a prestigious British Healthcare Business Intelligence award.

His approach is instructive - not only within the healthcare market, but for anyone involved with customers. Whilst Business Intelligence is a quantitative discipline, people are still people, and remembering the emotional angle is important.


  1. The 6-Ds are very interesting! Thanks for posting those.

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