Read more about our incredible awards

We have expertise in conducting research projects across a wide range of topics, as reflected in the number of award presented to Synergy by the British Healthcare Business Intelligence Association (BHBIA).


What happens when NICE publishes draft guidance that does not recommend use of your new medication, due to a lack of quality-of-life data in the target patient population? We went and conducted new research to collect the necessary data needed to challenge the decision. Research was designed, in partnership with a leading UK charity, to gather data from a small patient population with significant quality-of-life issues and lack of treatment options. The data helped contribute to overturning NICE’s draft decision – giving more patients access to a much-needed new treatment option.

BHBIA BOBI Award winners: Best customer insight and best patient centric approach

BHBIA BOBI AWARD WINNER: best patient-centric approach

Waking Up To Psoriasis: How Research Insights Formed the Bedrock of a Campaign That Inspired People With Psoriasis Across the UK.

The campaign was driven by research designed, analysed and reported in partnership with the Psoriasis Association to identify insights into the impact of psoriasis and thus to increase understanding, reduce social isolation and encourage patients to re-engage with their health professional.  

We are very grateful to the people with psoriasis who shared their experiences with us and hope that the research has helped contribute to a better public understanding of psoriasis and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

BHBIA BOBI Challenge Award Winner - Team Event

Awarded to ‘Blue Team’: Charlotte Sugden Heron from Synergy Healthcare Research along with George Duo Wang, PAREXEL International, Jon Mosley, Teva UK Ltd, Rachel Pughe, Adelphi Research, Rachel Sandford, Ipsos (sponsored by Roche Products Limited)

BHBIA BOBI BEST customer insight: Highly commended

Understanding the true drivers of decision making

AbbVie thought they knew these customers. However, by
starting with a blank sheet of paper and conducting a robust
piece of work, AbbVie was able to dig deeper into health
professionals’ underlying motivations and identify distinctive
customer segments. These immediately resonated with office
and customer facing teams and have become the backbone for
promotional campaigns. Key to success was giving all internal
stakeholders the opportunity to take the journey that led to
identification of these segments via a series of workshops.

BHBIA BOBI BEST BUSINESS impact: Highly commended

Searching for needles in a million haystacks: helping ensure
the accurate diagnosis of a rare haematological condition

A typical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) is an extremely
rare condition with only about 140 known patients in England
– but it is estimated that the diagnosis is missed in over 50%
of patients. Research provided powerful insights in terms of
the key barriers to the diagnosis of aHUS and how best to
develop educational support that will engage haematologists
to improve the diagnosis of a rare condition and thus ensure
eligible patients receive life-saving treatment

Agency of the Year

We are delighted to have been presented with the BHBIA agency of the year award at our annual conference based on our commitment to the design and delivery of outstanding research to help pharma companies meet the needs of health professionals and thus ensure patients receive the best possible treatment, information and support.

The judges felt our entry stood out for the way in which we gave specific (anonymised) examples of how our insights positively impacted their clients’ businesses, as well as explaining how they also met the needs of HCPs, patients and payers. They felt we demonstrated strength in client/agency team working, including wider client teams such as PR, and were impressed with our aspiration to demonstrate the value of market research.

Best Customer Insight

Changing the frame to optimise communication': How research insights identified how to ensure the more compelling delivery of life-saving outcome data

Despite powerful outcome data for an innovative treatment for a life-limiting condition, many patients were not being referred or treated – resulting in poorer quality of life and earlier death for those patients eligible for treatment. By analysing the language used by doctors who were most convinced of the benefits of treatment, research identified a number of opportunities to more effectively communicate key messages – in particular to frame outcome benefits as improved survival rather than reduced mortality – since reference to mortality in this particular condition reinforced the inevitability of death – but referring to ‘improved survival’ for patients was far more compelling.

Judges' comments:

A neat combination of language and behavioural economic analysis (with) practical, tangible, and concise insights that provided clear direction to encourage the referral and treatment of suitable patients, with coherent and compelling communication.

Best Newcomer - Katy McCalister

Katy achieved the highest overall score in a very closely fought competition. She impressed the judges with her clear thinking, good grasp of the important issues and well structured-answers.

Judges' comments:

Katy has an engaging and animated style of presenting. She has a good grasp of the business issues and developed relevant ideas to address them. Katy applied the depth of her knowledge and thinking by building on her initial ideas in a creative and relevant way that went beyond the brief. She demonstrated good interaction with the client teams throughout.

BHBIA Best Business Impact Award
BHBIA Best Business Impact Award

To be, or not to be? Assessing the potential uptake of psychiatric intensive care training courses for junior doctors and nurses

Setting up academic courses for healthcare professionals requires considerable expense and outlay of resources. When designing a new course on best practice in psychiatric intensive care, how do you know if healthcare professionals will actually want to enrol? From a business perspective, is it a viable idea?

Research was required to assess the demand for such a course, the key target markets and potential size of uptake. Research conducted amongst junior doctors and mental health nurses provided robust, clear conclusions on the likely uptake of the course, which enabled quick, clear, cost-effective decisions to be made about the course’s future.

Judge's comments:

The beauty of this submission was the very clear impact that Business Intelligence had on the decision. The business decision that King’s College needed to make was clear, and the approach taken was carefully constructed to illicit the information that was needed to inform this. King’s College were given solid recommendations which they were able to implement immediately.

BHBIA Excellence in SFE & Commercial Analysis

A picture is worth a thousand lives: how visual communication of guidelines helped ensure the use of a new antibiotic in appropriate patients to reduce deaths from C. difficile infection.

Clostridium difficile infection in England and Wales caused 2,053 deaths in 2011 and nearly 1% of hospital deaths during 2010–12.

Research identified how to reposition an antibiotic to maximise its potential to reduce episodes of Clostridium difficile infection in the UK, resulting in:

  • Increased formulary acceptance from 60 to 113 UK formularies
  • UK sales growth of 300% in the 2 years following research, achieving 12% above target forecast in 2013/14
  • The UK is the top performing European affiliate for the last 18 months in both cash and country market share % progression

More importantly, real world data from patients prescribed Dificlir first line, following implementation of research recommendations, showed a three-fold reduction in 28 day all-cause mortality from 23.3% to 7.6%.

Judge Comments:

A great example of research which enabled the company to build on existing guidance in a way which made it more meaningful to each of the different customer groups that needed to be aligned in order to change behaviour. The research led to an increase for the company’s product in terms of formulary inclusion and sales and also, more importantly, a reduction in mortality for patients.

It stood out for the thorough preparation and ongoing insights developed throughout the project and the very clear explanations of objectives, methods and analyses.

BHBIA Excellence in Data Collection & Fieldwork

Windows into a private world – collecting data in collaboration with a private hospital group to improve access to and use of cancer treatments

An innovative collaborative approach between Roche and a private hospital group allowed robust data to be identified for anonymised private patients receiving Avastin and identify barriers to its use as a result of the authorization processes involved.

This research resulted in a number of publications designed to highlight suboptimal patient management and to ensure Avastin is prescribed for the correct duration to ensure maximum clinical benefit is achieved.

Judge Comments:

This was our winner because of the potential impact of the project on both the UK client business and the future treatment of cancer patients. We were impressed that the data captured was robust and rigorous enough to be published widely thereby highlighting the suboptimal patient management the research identified. We don't yet know if the publications themselves have caused a change in clinical practice but it is an excellent first step.

In addition, the client gained valuable new data aiding their strategic plans on-going. This project demonstrated a strong collaboration with the private sector, a sector notoriously difficult to gain information from and achieved tangible outputs both internally and externally.

BHBIA Best Business Impact

Switching on the Northern Lights

Research conducted for a brand in the later stages of its lifecycle identified opportunities for regional initiatives, which in turn revitalised the brand, resulting in:

  • A successful SMC submission
  • A revised campaign leading to dramatically improved brand perceptions – more than doubling positive attitudes on brand loyalty measures
  • A threefold greater increase in sales compared to the rest of the UK - 16% sales growth in areas where a regional strategy was implemented vs. 5-6% in other regions
  • The brand was re-established as the company’s most commercially successful product

Judge Comments:

A well thought out and clearly written submission, with significant business impact directly related to the market research.

A well-structured paper demonstrating clear understanding of the subnational business issue and clearly defined research approach to address each decision. Particularly impressive was the stakeholder management. The input and buy-in from the regional team at all stages contributed greatly to the actionable recommendations and subsequent positive impact of the programme.

BHBIA BOBI Challenge Award Winner - Team Event

Awarded to team Mixology (Sue Thamia along with Alison Buchanan, Su Sandhu, Stephen Baker, Ruth Woodrow, Steve Organ)

Judge's comments:

The winning team performed particularly well in terms of:

  • Excellent ability to assimilate information rapidly
  • Effectively communicated the benefits of the brand and associated services  both  to a group of very hard-nosed  investors  and sceptical CCG personnel
  • Great evidence of creative thinking within the  parameters of the exercise – some excellent suggestions regarding innovative strategies and the patients that should be the focus of the brand
  • Contextualised  their presentations in the light of existing knowledge  and demonstrated their knowledge of current goals within the NHS
  • Very well delivered presentations under pressure
  • Ability to respond effectively to very challenging questions
BHBIA Peer-judged award for Business Intelligence Excellence (Agency)
BHBIA Peer-judged award for Business Intelligence Excellence

Awarded to Sue Thamia

Photo courtesy of PharmaTimes

© MJR Event Photo

BHBIA Best Customer Insight Award - Communications Materials
BHBIA Best Customer Insight Award Synergy Market Research

Emotional intelligence: How understanding motivations helped revitalise a 20 year old brand

The client's drug was launched over twenty years ago but recently had been losing share. Research provided many key insights, including:

  • Patients feel lost. They need trusted allies on their emotional journey
  • Doctors focus on treatment goals and they do not give much attention to the emotional needs and concerns of new patients
  • Pharmaceutical companies generally underestimate nurses' need for respect and potential to make a difference to the quality of their patients' lives
  • The opportunity was identified for the brand to be associated with positive aspects of a patient's development
  • Insights led to entirely new communications approach, new sales training and an increase in market share. Subsequently, the European campaign was implemented across a large number of markets which resulted in saving of nearly $1 million in time and agency costs compared to developing campaigns for each market

Judges' comments:

This was a very good quality entry showing an interesting regeneration of an old brand. There were clear actionable results from the research that had a major impact on both the communication campaign and product usage, not only in the UK but cascading into other countries in Europe as well. The research provided information that drove an important change in teams' mindset and gave clear direction for communication and messaging. The key winning factor was that there was a "light-bulb" moment, something that does not happen very often, providing very insightful findings that had a far reaching effect.


Photo courtesy of PMLive

© PMGroup Worldwide

BHBIA BOBI Challenge Award Winner - Team Event
BHBIA BOBI Challenge Award Winner Synergy Healthcare Market Research

Awarded to Team Janssen Synergy (Jon Freeman along with Tim Barnett, Karen Chadwick, Chris Massey & Stewart West from Janssen)


Photo courtesy of PMLive

© PMGroup Worldwide

BHBIA Advanced Analytics Award - Impact of Multiple Scenarios on Prescribing
BHBIA Advanced Analytics Award Synergy Healthcare Market Research

Do prescribers and payers today perceive any value in additional outcome claims or is the cardiovascular market really just a commodities market?

New data and new generic competition led to re-evaluation of pricing for a major cardiovascular brand - should price be increased or decreased? Complex analysis was needed to assess up to 1,000 potential scenarios:

  • 5 prices for each of 3 doses
  • Before/after new data
  • Before/after generic competition

Interpolative analysis provided important insights into the psychology of healthcare pricing: non consequential pricing of different doses of a product will have different perceptive effects of the total brand’s perceived value and varying effects on prescribing and therefore revenue.

Judges comments:

This case showed how market research and advanced analytics were used to inform a pricing decision for a brand that had new positive clinical data, but at the same time faced new generic competition. In the analysis over 1000 scenarios were evaluated in order to find the optimum pricing strategy.

This entry had a clear hypothesis and objectives and met a very clear business need. The judges were particularly impressed with both the speed of implementation and the quantifiable business impact delivered as a result of following the recommendations. Complex analysis was required to assess the impact of the different scenarios including the impact of price, new data and generic competition.

Photo courtesy of PMLive

© PMGroup Worldwide

BHBIA Peer-judged Award for Business Intelligence Excellence (Agency)

Awarded to Jon Freeman

BHBIA Peer-judged Award for Business Intelligence Excellence (Agency)

Awarded to Jon Freeman

BHBIA Best Customer Insight Award - Overcoming Prescribing Barriers

How market research insights into prescriber motivations and healthcare branding helped overcome resistance to a new therapy

A product was launched along with a  test to identify suitable patients – but resistance to testing led to much lower sales than expected. Research provided many key insights including:

  • Doctors’ job satisfaction from their expertise selecting suitable drug treatment was undermined by the need to test if patients are suitable
  • This internal motivation was magnified by high patient empathy (external motivation) 
  • The drug and the test are two faces of a single brand experience.
  • Insights led to testing integrated into customers’ clinical routine and sales almost tripled.

Judges comments:

The judges felt unanimously that this was the winning entry in this category as it demonstrated an excellent integrated relationship with the research agency. This close working relationship resulted in an innovative and comprehensive approach to a complex issue.

The judges also felt that this entry strongly demonstrated how, deep behavioural insights can lead to clear recommendations which can have a fundamental impact on the way brands are marketed.

BHBIA Award: Communication Research - Campaign Development
BHBIA Award Communication Research Campaign Development Synergy Healthcare Market Research

Differentiating to Keep a Share of the Pie in the Anti-Obesity Market 

A DFU on this established product highlighted that the current sales campaign had been unable to successfully identify a clear market position for the product amongst key customers. The award winning campaign this research helped generate enabled the product to maintain market share and grow volume sales.

The revised sales campaign was well received by the sales force (partly due to their early involvement in the research)Detail follow up testing of the sales campaign showed above industry average retention of sales messages The same study showed healthcare professionals recognizing specific advantages, whereas before the launch of the new campaign this was less certain.

Furthermore the campaign was recently recognized at the recent Best of Healthcare Awards (previously HAAG) receiving an impressive four separate awards

The brand has been able to defend its market share post competitor launch despite a massive spend by the new product This led volume sales to grow by 16% in the first 12 months after the campaign launch despite this increased competition.


Photo courtesy of BHBIA

© Justin Grainge Photography

BHBIA Award: Best Sales/Marketing Effectiveness Research
BHBIA Award Best Sales/Marketing Effectiveness Research

Standing Out from the Biological Broth 

An exciting new brand, first in class, fulfilling a real need and being promoted by motivated representatives to an eager audience. But, was it doing as well as it should? Evaluation of the communication chain from marketing through to the customer revealed that despite a clear understanding and buy-in to the key messages and rationale for use of the product, there was still something missing. How could we ensure this new brand stood out from the biological broth?

Judges comments:

A solid piece of research, which generated clear recommendations and which had good evidence of follow-through... firm evidence of the business having benefited from the research findings, leading to increased motivation among the sales force, improved sales and marketing materials and ultimately a growth in sales.


Photo courtesy of BHBIA

© Justin Grainge Photography

BHBIA Best Training Seminar - Pricing and Market Access Research

Awarded to Jon Freeman for the Pricing and Market Access Research training day.