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"Not Another Boring Survey?"

Winning over HCPs… How to Increase Participant Engagement in Healthcare Market Research

The BHBIA Members’ Exchange Forum towards the end of last year on Customer Engagement has given us some food for thought
. The Forum shared some strong views on what we need to consider as an industry to improve the relationships we have with HCPs. With response rates declining and apparent frustration amongst potential participants, we’ve been thinking creatively about what can be done to help win over HCPs.

So what are some of the challenges we’re facing?

Dr Ameet Bakhai raised some of the main issues during his presentation at the BHBIA Forum. “I’m too busy” Firstly HCPs lead busy lives – they might not even have time to respond to emails from recruiters – never mind actually give up their valuable time to take part.

“Why should I bother?”
There are also potential problems around communicating the value of research projects to participants to gain their understanding of the worth of their contribution. Are fieldwork agencies reaching out to potential participants in the right way and what more can pharma and researchers do to engage HCPs?

“It’s so boring - what’s the point?”
Are research materials being designed to the highest standard and are they actually enjoyable for HCPs to engage with? Are some questionnaires simply boring and unnecessarily long-winded? And do participants ever get feedback on the findings/how the information has been used?

How can we win over HCPs?

Gaining participant buy-in
Let’s start thinking more carefully about how we are reaching out to HCPs – are they for example: Receiving too many emails? Are the invitations to take part written and formatted in an interesting and engaging manner?

Are more innovative approaches to recruitment the answer?
We are starting to take more of an innovative approach to the recruitment process. Such as looking at if gamification could be applied to further engage HCPs and also reaching out more through text messages – for easier response on the go.

Can we foster better relations?

Another idea being implemented is to undertake more pilot exercises with HCPs before going live, fostering relations and demonstrating the value that they can provide in helping to shape the materials. Can we do this without holding up approval processes and/or requiring a second stage of approval?

Should we give something back?
Can we provide more information to HCPs on the value of their input into the research? Should we for example share some of the project findings to give something back? This could help stimulate engagement in future research and also demonstrate to those that didn’t take part that they missed out on contributing but will have the opportunity to do so again in the future.

Gathering and acting on feedback
We rarely ask participants what they thought about the research and what could have been done improved. It could be that some are simply too busy to respond but others might feel more involved and considered for being asked. Key learnings could help us better shape future participant experiences.

Responding on-the-go – via mobile

We’ve already considered how busy HCPs are. Mobile research is a great solution to being able to respond on the go at a time that suits them. With research published in the online journal BMJ Innovations affirming that 99% of doctors own a smartphone and 94% of them use them at work1 – mobile is an ideal option, either for the initial contact or as a platform for the research itself.

Let’s get creative
We have lots of creative ideas and new technologies at our finger tips. Should we be engaging participants more using novel techniques? We’ve found from previous experience that participants can find gamification in questionnaires more engaging and rewarding2. Even simple tweaks to the way questions are worded, supporting visuals and reward mechanisms can make a big difference. Additionally the application of gamification for example drag and drop, sliding scales, etc., can actually make questionnaires quicker to complete.

Where next?

We’ve mentioned some key steps that we are currently implementing to enhance participants’ experiences from the recruitment stage. Our goal is to further engage participants, yield higher quality responses and demonstrate the value that we place on each individual contributor. We don’t have to dramatically change the way we are conducting research but tweaks here and there could make a real difference. And as a leading supermarket chain likes to remind us, every little helps…

Kris Barker, Associate Director & Engagement Lead

1 Mohammad H Mobasheri, Dominic King, Maximilian Johnston, Sanjay Gautama, Sanjay Purkayastha, Ara Darzi. The ownership and clinical use of smartphones by doctors and nurses in the UK: a multicentre survey study. BMJ Innovations, 2015; bmjinnov-2015-000062 DOI:10.1136/bmjinnov-2015-000062
2 Joanna Thompson (Adelphi Research UK), Paola Franco (Janssen) and Jon Puleston (GMI/AllGlobal). What does gamification offer to healthcare research? (BHBIA Best Conference Paper 2014.

4th February 2016



Company Details

Adelphi Research UK

01625 572828

Contact Website

Adelphi Mill
SK10 5JB
United Kingdom

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