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inVibe Labs: Origin Story

By Fabio Gratton

Wed Sep 20 2017

When we created inVibe four years ago, it was with the explicit goal of addressing the challenge of being able to conduct cost-effective, high-speed market research without compromising quality. As a 20-year healthcare ad agency veteran, getting insights from customers for my clients was critical, but we did not have an in-house research team, so we had to rely on the solutions available to us from outside firms. Unfortunately, no single research firm could meet all our needs. Each solution offered came with a set of painful compromises, and the “best” option would inevitably involve stitching together a disparate set of products from competing vendors.

Some of the best research vendors were (and still are) specialized by audiences and methodologies. As a result, getting insights from both patients and physicians often required engaging two firms. The same was true when it came to methodology expertise (e.g., quant survey vs. phone interview). And regardless of which way we went, recruiting/fielding timelines were rarely under two weeks — and that was considered fast! We discovered that the lack of efficiency wasn’t because people were slow, but the process itself was very time-intensive, requiring a great deal of manual investigation, negotiation, and coordination. The high-degree of human effort required translated into higher costs, which in turn meant we had to be selective and judicious of when and where to use research, and compromises always had to be made.

In the first part of this decade a handful of companies emerged that started specializing in high-speed / “fast-turn” studies. The price and speed were right (anywhere from $2,500 to $7,500 a pop), and the “self-serve” interfaces most of these companies offered made these options attractive to those who had the time and knowledge to write their own screeners, design the surveys, and manage the project. While these tools certainly provided brands and research teams with new options, they came with many limitations. They were (and still are) designed exclusively to field quantitative surveys because they can draw from existing, pre-recruited panels. Also, almost all of these solutions were focused on healthcare professional audiences.

In order to fit the “software-as-a-service” business model, these tools also imposed a host of seemingly artificial constraints (e.g., number and type of questions, licensing/subscription requirements, etc.) while providing little in the way of live customer service and support, especially when it came to the more human-intensive issues (e.g., study design, survey flow, etc.), all critical elements that, if done poorly, will all too often yield unusable data.

The landscape has not changed much to this day.

The backdrop described above sets the scene for inVibe’s “Origin Story.” We knew that the healthcare industry would inevitably face many of the same mind-numbing pressures as other industries — accelerated price erosion, increased service expectation, continuous disintermediation by health-tech, and the emergence of entirely new swaths of competitive entities, many leveraging innovative technologies to undercut the entrenched players.

We believed that the landscape that would emerge would require organizations to start re-thinking their approach to research, both philosophically and practically-speaking. Philosophically, research projects would need to move away from static, episodic, event- and milestone-driven activities — and they would need to become continuous, fluid, and flexible. Practically speaking, the industry would need new tools to meet those needs. These tools would need to be cost-effective because success requires continuous utilization. They would need to be fast because business agility demands it. And most importantly, these new tools could not be resource-intensive. In other words, if the tools were too specialized that people would still need to coordinate the use of multiple solutions, that would not be ideal. Or if tools required people to learn new skills, including learning how to program surveys through foreign interfaces, that would be a problem.

Yes, some compromises would have to be made in order to move fast, but those compromises should be offset with the delivery of an extraordinary amount of value and not just the value that comes from the quality of the data and the speed in which the data was collected, but the value that comes from having a tool that legitimately allows the brand or researcher to spend less time finding ways to collect the information they want, and more time consuming it and turning it into actionable insights that make a difference in the business.

In July of 2014, inVibe was born to herald a new age of market research. inVibe is an agile market research platform designed explicitly to help healthcare organizations recruit for and field quantitative and qualitative research studies, across all healthcare stakeholders — from patients with rare disease to payers in large healthcare systems, all the way to surgical oncologists in community hospitals — all within 24–48 hours.

inVibe has addressed the issue of panel diversity by forming partnerships and seamless technology integrations with all of the top physician panels and patient communities.

inVibe has addressed the issue of being able to provide both quant and qual research studies by developing a proprietary voice response research technology that integrates with the rest of the inVibe platform, a technology that enables people to answer questions simply by talking.

inVibe has addressed the challenges with capturing, organizing and analyzing qualitative data by automating the transcription process, delivering audio files synced with the respondent’s words in an online dashboard, and providing an additional layer of insights by leveraging machine learning to analyze both the words used (Natural Language Processing) and the acoustic markers in the spoken voice (Speech Emotion Recognition).

Each step of the process involves a combination of human interaction and machine automation — the former to ensure quality and compliance, and the latter to ensure that results are delivered in the least amount of time possible.

We designed inVibe to take the friction out of healthcare research, and that has meant putting a great deal of thought and care into how and when to utilize technology to integrate, automate and ultimately accelerate the research process. Equally important is where we have continued to rely on humans. One area that we will never “automate out” of inVibe is how we support our clients. It took the best engineers to build inVibe, but it was born from and will continue to be supported by people that are passionate about healthcare — and how it can be made better if we listen to people more.

Much like we ask our clients to take the time to listen to stories we collect in the voice data, we ask ourselves to do the same with you. We want to better understand what you are looking to discover, so we can make sure that inVibe helps you find it.

We would be honored to be your partner on this journey and look forward to hearing from you.


Fabio Gratton
Co-founder & CEO
inVibe Labs

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