Case Study: Enhancing the Physician & Patient Interaction


We completed a qualitative market research study demonstrating our use of online ethnography/bulletin boards with physicians and patients to address our clients' research objectives.


Our client required a comprehensive understanding of the interaction between physicians, nurses and patients when discussing the diagnosis of, treatment of and management of Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) and Primary Immunodeficiency (PI).

The client’s specific business objective was to gain an understanding of patient/physician interactions in an effort to support the use of its therapy.

Specific research objectives were:

  • Understanding the dialogue between physicians and nurse office managers/infusion nurses, and patients
  • Isolating treatment experiences, and expectations, for each site of care
  • Identifying competitive nuances among IVIg manufacturers

To meet these objectives, we undertook a series of online ethnographic studies, in the form of multi-day online bulletin boards with physicians and nurses, and a multi-week online ethnographic study with patients.

We recruited:

  • Physicians and nurses who managed pediatric and adult patients with CIDP or PI
  • Patients with CIDP or PI using a mixed approach of advocacy group and physician outreach

Each week respondents completed creative activities in addition to standard questions. These ranged from picture association to collaging.


The study provided our client with rich contextual individual experiences gained through a variety of projective techniques (e.g., psychographic exercises) and analytic techniques. We compared patient and physician experiences/perceptions to identify disconnects and consistent findings. These findings helped to form a complete picture of the patient journey across diagnosis and management/treatment.

Patients provided clear distinctions between their current interactions with physicians and their ideal scenarios.

Physicians provided a clear illustration of the disconnect between the patient consultation and the ultimate therapeutic choice, often governed by formulary protocol.


We developed the story in conjunction with our client, which illustrated the importance of physicians: they are the most critical constituent to influence regarding advantages/disadvantages of therapy options.

Other key findings included:

  • Nurse dialogue at office and infusion center can be extremely influential to the patient’s overall experience
  • Nurses often calm patient fears, and also provide much needed emotional support

Our client took specific action to refine its patient educational materials as a result of the study.


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