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The healthcare market research themes for 2014

As we shake off our winter coats and prepare for what will hopefully be a long, hot summer, the 2014 themes for healthcare and market research are emerging.
In the US, we have, and will continue to have, the shakedown from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): the teething problems and the confusion, and gradually, so we hope, a clearer picture of what it means for physicians, insurers and patients – and for the industry as a whole. In the UK, we are looking at the implications of an independent Scotland following a referendum which will take place in September. For healthcare, there are some big questions - how would cross-Border healthcare work?  Would the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) continue to work with NICE? And in parts of Europe, particularly France, data protection laws covering market research are making some of these markets challenging to conduct studies in. Globally, the pharma industry is under increasing scrutiny to demonstrate transparent practices and legal compliance. This requirement transfers to market research suppliers such as Research Partnership, and we need to ensure we are adhering to industry guidelines and clients’ policies with regards to project management processes.

In quantitative research, we are continuing to see a trend towards respondents completing online interviews on smartphones or tablet devices. Questionnaire design and programming is starting to take this into account – it’s very difficult to complete long batteries of rating statements on a tablet simply because the selection options can be so close together. (Hitting the wrong one by accident is sometimes referred to as ‘fat-finger syndrome’!). Online or App surveys specifically designed for smartphone or tablet devices (like our ConferenceLIVE orRxRationale services), are programmed for the device so they are built with the respondent in mind.

We are also witnessing the introduction of other gamification ideas – like giving respondents a time-limit in which to answer spontaneous questions, where the aim is to understand the top-of-mind response, or using icons to replace dry number-rating scales, a range of smiling to frowning faces to indicate satisfaction or dissatisfaction or star ratings. All these tools are designed to make the whole interview experience that bit more engaging, and encourage our respondents to consider their answers.  

Beyond individual pieces of research, the role of online communities of patients or physicians and ‘scraping’ the vast wealth of pre-existing information on the internet (an example of so-called Big Data) are being explored and developed. This isn’t just about counting the number of hits or searches but about identifying and analysing relevant communications and conversations in order to gain insight into the language being used, the information needs as well as resulting behaviour.  

In qualitative research, observation techniques continue to be a trend. As a society, we are becoming more open than ever to sharing information about our daily lives. Qualitative research can benefit from this by using digital, video and face-to-face techniques to garner “uncontaminated” insights from respondents, without the intrusion of a moderator, and gain valuable information about how healthcare stakeholders interact in the real world.

Exciting times to be in healthcare market research. We hold aloft our cooling glass of Pimms and look forward to the summer ahead!

Research Partnership is one of the largest independent healthcare market research and consulting agencies in the world. Trusted partner to the global pharmaceutical industry, we use our expertise and experience to deliver intelligent, tailor-made solutions. We provide strategic recommendations that go beyond research, helping our clients to answer their fundamental business challenges. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/1K6nhJ3

2nd April 2015

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