Using Research to Navigate a Crisis

“Any decision we make has to be based on the data.”
– Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (March 27, 2020)

Has there been another time in history when we’ve been inundated with so much data?

The coronavirus has unleashed a torrent of data on the public—the number of infected, the number dead, how many have been tested, how many ventilators, masks, gloves, and gowns we need to meet peak demand. Data on the number of infections can be seen down to the individual zip code.

Dr. Fauci makes appearances in every possible medium, spreading word about the importance of data in responding to the crisis. Even though it is incomplete and subject to daily revision, it is the data that allows us to act, to know that this is the best possible course of action for this moment.

Data is the core of Willow’s work, and as we confront the impact of the pandemic, we see its importance more than ever. We are in the midst of a world being remade, and it is nearly impossible to fully comprehend what is waiting for us on the other side.

At the same time, we can’t afford to wait for the impacts to become fully apparent, just as our epidemiologists can’t wait for the virus to run rampant before they build their predictive models.


Real-time data from Willow

By coincidence, we at Willow have been conducting a healthcare-related study in the midst of this unfolding crisis. Our previously planned face-to-face focus groups were quickly moved online, and we have been talking to women about their experiences with our healthcare system. Because it is the dominant subject on everyone’s mind, we’re spending some time discussing how people are responding to the coronavirus crisis.

These groups span from mid-March to late April and will provide real-time data about the evolution of attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors among consumers of healthcare. A follow-up quantitative survey will gather data during what now looks to be the immediate aftermath of the crisis’s initial peak.

Doing this project now has reinforced our belief in the necessity of data in order to help make sound decisions. We weren’t 100% certain we should continue with the project at this time, but collecting the data showed us not only was the project not at risk, but the information we’re gathering is even more important now than we previously thought.

Interviewing Americans in the midst of a crisis reveals, in very concrete terms, how this is impacting their lives: their families, their communities, their work, and their physical and mental health. Equipped with this understanding, our client can begin to adapt and develop services and programs to better meet the needs of its customers today and in the coming months.


Helping you stay prepared

The companies and organizations that have access to the most relevant and timely data will be best prepared for whatever is coming. This was true before a world-historical crisis, and it is especially true now.

At the same time, we recognize the pressures of extreme uncertainty on businesses and organizations and the fact that the ground seems to shift moment-to-moment.

For this reason, Willow is rolling out what we’re calling our Flash Study. A Flash Study is exactly that, an instant illumination of a point in time, the way a bolt of lightning puts the full landscape in relief.

The Flash Study is designed to be completed and reported quickly, focusing on a handful of key strategic questions that give companies and organizations the information they need to make the immediate next set of decisions.

Over time, we can launch subsequent Flash Studies as needed, providing the kind of real-time data that allows everyone to move forward with confidence.

It is difficult to not feel discombobulated by the events happening around us, but if you need help moving beyond uncertainty, the Flash Study is a way to re-orient and plan in this new reality.

To discuss your data needs and for more details about our Flash Study, please contact Sara Parikh, or Vandana Razdan,


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