Ken Deutsch and Debra SkinnerKen Deutsch and Debra Skinner co-authored this article.

A medical device company recently approached us with an intriguing challenge. The company was preparing to introduce a new product and wanted JPA Health to develop both communications and marketing messaging to support the launch.

However, that messaging had to be directed at distinct medical professionals: in this case, obstetrician-gynecologists, urologists and primary care physicians, as well as to patients.

To help us create this complex campaign, we turned to GRETEL Trails, JPA Health’s newest tool, which leverages the latest in artificial intelligence-powered technology to offer our clients seamless access to real-world insights from patients, healthcare providers and other key audiences.

With its easy-to-use chatbot interface and an ability to process staggering amounts of data at lightning speed, GRETEL Trails gave us a powerful foundation to build upon.

Working within a secure environment, we quickly “trained” GRETEL Trails on the nuances of the assignment and which datasets from our library of market research would be most advantageous to leverage. Then, with just a few keystrokes, GRETEL Trails began providing valuable insights about these nuanced audiences.

For example, it told us that OB/GYNs are particularly interested in the efficacy and safety of treatments and that they prioritize patient comfort and minimizing side effects. Even more helpful, it recommended emphasizing the results of clinical studies and stressing that the device offered a non-drug, non-surgical solution for a common medical problem.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's October '23 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine
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And GRETEL Trails was just getting started. For example, our research indicated which healthcare providers had used similar treatments in the past. We integrated that information into our database, which allowed GRETEL Trails to draft personalized letters to these doctors who introduced the product and offered to arrange a call or meeting to discuss it in more detail. It was even able to recommend how our client should present their new device at medical conferences, as well as which ones to attend.

To understand the sophistication of GRETEL Trails, one must first turn to GRETEL, the industry’s leading healthcare insights engine. JPA Health developed GRETEL over the last decade as a research tool—similar to focus groups and survey responses—that allows us to use social media as a proxy for how audiences engage on health issues, because it gathers and stores data on their interests and sources.

With GRETEL, we not only monitor those engagements, but we can also identify key stakeholders who influence the conversations, based on how frequently they’re referenced, or their posts are shared by audiences talking about a particular issue or topic. GRETEL combines this trove of information with a database of more than 22,000 top health journalists.

GRETEL improved our ability to target messages to diverse audiences, but processing these massive datasets could be time-consuming—a problem solved by the arrival of GPT-4, the largest AI-powered natural language chatbot ever built. Combining GRETEL and GPT-4 to create Gretel Trails gave us an interface that understands and responds to prompts in plain English—no knowledge of analytics or technical know-how required—and powers precision insights in seconds.

Insights generated by GRETEL Trails provide our team members with a first draft to build on and develop with their healthcare expertise and years of experience—and the breadth of what this platform can do and tell us seems limitless.

Consider the role GRETEL Trails recently played in our work with the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization seeking to improve equitable access to supportive care for all people affected by cancer. Clinical studies show that people with cancer have better outcomes when they receive comprehensive supportive cancer care, which collectively addresses their complex clinical, physical, emotional and social needs.

Our work began with traditional data gathering, which included a comprehensive landscape analysis, stakeholder mapping and market research, including surveys of patients and HCPs, and in-depth interviews with policy influencers.

We then trained GRETEL Trails with this raw data, as well as a year’s worth of social media posts about supportive care and other information on oncology and health policy.

GRETEL Trails was able to rapidly interpret these very large research datasets and generate actionable insights in real-time on how best to engage and communicate with multi-sector, cross-discipline stakeholders to make supportive care a reality for every patient in the United States.

For example, we asked GRETEL Trails to suggest main message points for each audience (patients and caregivers, cancer care professionals, healthcare executives, policymakers, employers, payers and pharmaceutical leaders) and strategies for reaching them, which helped kick off brainstorming for our team.

And there’s so much more that GRETEL Trails can do. Need a first draft of an op-ed? A press release? Ideas for visuals that will resonate with audiences? Whether it’s to craft brand messaging or spark creative concepts, this innovative platform helps our team and clients understand their audiences and deliver highly targeted messages.

Importantly, GRETEL Trails is 100 percent private and secure: Client information is never made available to GPT-4 and isn’t used to train its artificial intelligence. GRETEL Trails is just one of the ways JPA Health is providing faster insights and helping our clients foster deeper connections with its audiences.


Ken Deutsch oversees research and insights work at JPA Health and is lead developer of GRETEL and GRETEL Trails. Debra Skinner is a research manager for JPA Health and is the primary lead on GRETEL research.