Healthcare Social Intelligence: “The Fourth Wall, The Fourth Focus Group?”

Why invoke thespian concepts such as “the fourth wall” when broaching the topic of intelligence gathering? Aside from the stopping power, it wields an attention-grabbing headline to stir curiosity and it can certainly be applied to intelligence gathering in healthcare. To make the connection, let’s ground ourselves on the definition of “the fourth wall” in theater. Wikipedia defines the fourth wall as: “a performance convention in which an invisible, imagined wall separates actors from the audience. While the audience can see through this "wall", the convention assumes, the actors act as if they cannot.”

Sometimes when you watch a play, the characters seem to be interacting with one another without knowing that you, the audience, are watching. As a theatergoer, you get to spy on a scene as if a semi-transparent barrier is between you and the performers. You can see them, but they can’t see you. That’s the idea of the “fourth wall.” It’s a convention and a shared metaphor that the audience and performers allow themselves to believe. Source:

Consider a focus group. During a focus group, people are being observed through a two-way mirror, or in this case, a fourth (glass) wall. Focus groups can be broken down into three general types: traditional focus groups conducted in a facility, online focus groups, and two-way focus groups. In general, these three types of focus groups help set up the context of the fourth focus group.

What is the fourth focus group? It’s the rich, valuable data that can be collected from social media. It’s the unaided top of mind qualitative information people are communicating across the digital mediums; whether they are in the form of tweets, blog posts or comments. It’s the mom posting about the needs that her child with a certain disease has and writing about what has and hasn’t worked. It’s the physician regarded as a KOL, tweeting their reaction to data released in a pivotal trial. It’s the husband commenting on a company’s patient support program that his sick wife has enrolled in. Are physicians the only KOLs when it comes to moving the needle on influence? Or is it a parent whose child has Huntington’s disease that blogs, tweets, and posts about their experiences? If this situation involved your child, who would you be influenced by? Who would you share more commonality with? Who would be your KOL?

This information is flying all around us. These wonderful unfiltered gems are awaiting your grasp.

LCN Consulting has been collecting intelligence data for our clients for over a decade, and social media content is the next growing iteration of intelligence gathering. Having recognized this change, we have launched our Social IQ product line, which enables our clients to supplement their existing research efforts for their companies and brands. Our focus is less on the analytics and metrics, and more on who is saying/feeling something about diseases, products and companies.

We welcome the opportunity to further discuss the options available through our Social IQ product with you.

Thank you for visiting and please subscribe to our blog to receive notifications when new content is published.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts

© 2016 by LCN Consulting