A little context …
Our reading this week is Groundswell, Chapter 4 “Listening to the Groundswell.” The first section is a case study of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s private community for cancer patients using Communispace.
Full disclosure: I work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, one of 21 comprehensive cancer centers. The Hutchinson Center declined to become a part of this program, because we no longer offer treatment. All treatment is held at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), a organization formed by the partnership of the Hutchinson Center, the University of Washington, and Seattle Children’s.
I spoke with the head of marketing at the SCCA about their participation in the Communispace program. According to her, the SCCA participated for a year and they dropped the program. The main reason was that the information they received simply verified what they already knew. Also, since it was a small community (of about 20 people) it behaved like a focus group and frustratedly had a hard time staying on topic.
At the time, the SCCA had the budget to experiment with the program, but decided against renewing it even though they could afford it.
More useful for them was a survey done by the Oncology Roundtable which surveyed thousands of cancer patients. The information that survey provided was statistically significant.
In this case, impersonal data mining was more helpful for the marketing department than a close, personal relationship with a group, even though cancer as a topic is very personal.