How Face Masks Affect Communication in a Healthcare Setting

How Face Masks Affect Communication in a Healthcare Setting

The Eyes Have It – How Face Masks Affect Communication in a Healthcare Setting

“The first time I wore a mask at work I was surprised by how isolated it made me feel. There was a whole new language to learn in order to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues.”

The use of face coverings in the UK is now required in all indoor public spaces, and in domestic environments where social distancing is required, but not possible. Since the beginning of June, face coverings have also been mandated in healthcare settings. All healthcare professionals, patients, auxiliary workers and visitors are now need to wear a mask, or face covering unless exempted.


Key Features of Effective Communication in a Healthcare Setting

No doubt the next few years will produce countless studies into how face masks affect communication in a healthcare setting. For the present though, the evidence remains anecdotal and sketchy as we’re all still learning to adapt our ‘pre-mask’ communication strategies.

Healthcare professionals depend, more than most, on effective oral communication because without it a patient’s recovery can be compromised. Accurate diagnosis, and clear medical instructions are vital to successful care, and are often determined by verbal interactions.  There are 5 key components required to achieve clear oral communication:

  1. Attention. Healthcare interactions often occur in a busy environment. Gaining the attention of your patient prior to speaking is key to effective communication.
  2. Vocal Projection. Hospital, or care home wards can have a good deal of background noise going on. A projected, or focused voice, helps the patent to hear clearly.
  3. Eye Contact. Using regular eye contact signals that the patient has your full attention and that their participation in the conversation is important.
  4. Mouth Movements. Most communication involves the observation of mouth movements, whether or not the patient suffers from hearing loss.
  5. Tempo. The speed at which information is relayed will determine the amount of information that is retained – especially if it is new information, or includes unfamiliar words.

“Everyone has more difficulty hearing you when you wear a mask, and that makes communication more tiring. It really is exhausting making the adjustments.”

Adjusting to a New Communications Reality

The LDA Research team has been talking to nurses, professional carers and an occupational therapist to find out how they are coping with adapting their communication strategies to the new normal. Most of them talk about how tiring the process of communication becomes, when you take away the old shortcuts. All of them have experienced a range of colleague responses to the problems encountered:

“Lots of colleagues immediately started to adapt the way they were communicating. Others haven’t shifted at all, which makes it difficult for everyone – including patients who tend to get embarrassed about having to keep asking for stuff to be repeated. So they just give up.”

6 Tips for Effective Communication

Everyone we spoke to was eager to share their new discoveries, and we were quickly able to put together a list of tips based on professional experience over the past 6 months:

  • Keep It Concise Listening is tiring for patients because they’re working harder than usual. Put plenty of full stops into what you’re saying. And pause between separate pieces of information.
  • Slow Down. If you can’t see the mouth of the person who’s speaking it’s harder to process what they’re saying. Speak slowly and clearly to take this into account.
  • Masks Can Be Scary. Children, or patients with autism, can feel frightened when surrounded with people in masks. Drawing a smile on can help, and silly moustaches lighten the mood.
  • Projection, Not Shouting. Shouting ‘feels’ aggressive if you’re on the receiving end. A projected voice is better. You simply focus on the recipient and direct your voice specifically to them.
  • Attention. Take care that you’ve got your patient’s attention before you start speaking. And use intermittent, regular eye contact to let them know that you’re listening carefully.
  • Gestures. Use anything that helps to clarify the communication; gestures where appropriate, pointing, or writing down unfamiliar words.

Specialist Communication

For those with hearing loss, dementia or autism, communication via a mask can be extremely difficult and disorientating. The loss of communicative anchors may lead to an increase in feelings of anxiety or alienation. At the beginning of September the UK government announced the delivery of 250,000 transparent face masks in order to facilitate effective communication. Alternative specialist techniques we heard discussed include the use of written communications, or an alphabet chart.


About LDA Research

LDA Research was set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar. The close-knit, core team now works with a global network of trusted associates. LDA carries out qualitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


When it comes to fieldwork, the LDA Reasearch team is made up of experts in the provision of pharmaceutical and medical qualitative research. Give us a call to find out more – 01525 861436

Doctor consultations are increasingly being held remotely by phone or online – how does this affect patients?

Doctor consultations are increasingly being held remotely by phone or online – how does this affect patients?

Doctor consultations are increasingly being held remotely by phone or online – how does this affect patients?

How long is it since you’ve seen your GP? Even patients with long-standing, or chronic health conditions, are now likely to be accustomed to phone or online consultations rather than face-to-face appointments. This shift had been mooted for a while, but Coronavirus proved the catalyst for a major step change in the way GPs deliver their healthcare services.

In a speech to the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in July 2020, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, stated that the new way of working was one of the lessons that needed to be learnt from Covid-19. Moving forward, he suggested that all GP appointments should be handled remotely, unless the patient specifically needs to see a doctor at their surgery.


GP Reaction to Online Consultation

Throughout March and April in the UK, more than 70% of GP appointments were being conducted by phone, or online. This radical shift meant that both GPs and patients had quickly to get used to a different way of working. The LDA team spoke to a GP who saw real benefits: “It’s gives me more flexibility, and I can ‘see’ more patients”. It was noted, however, that younger patients tended to be more adept at handling digital tech, which meant older, more vulnerable patients still needed to be seen in person.

The majority of GPs recognise that phone or online consultations do offer real value to patients. For simple ‘transactional consultations’ a quick phone call is far preferable to the time spent travelling, waiting and seeing a doctor in person. There’s a resistance, though, to seeing them as a ‘cure all’. Dr Martin Brunet, a GP in Surrey, makes the case for relationship-based medicine involving patients who:

“rely on face-to-face interaction, such as those with learning difficulties or hearing impairment, or who simply feel that the trust they need to place in their GP requires being able to see them in person.”

Patients Talk About Remote Consultation

It’s not only GPs who are having to adjust their relationship to healthcare. Patients who may, in the past, have relied on their GP diagnosing health issues by ‘looking’, are now having to describe symptoms, or upload images for diagnosis. A patient we spoke to said:

“Our surgery has a link so you can upload images. I used this recently for a chronic wound and it worked well. But is does require some technical know-how to take a good image, show scale and upload it.”

Lots of patients noted the benefits of not having to take time off work to attend the doctor’s surgery. Older people, however, talked about the importance of having a relationship with their doctor:

“As an older person with lots and lots of health problems I needed help to manage phone consultations. I really wanted the reassurance of seeing my doctor, and the same doctor each time.”

GP Surgery Demographics Will Determine Approach

For GP practices with a predominantly young catchment, the way forward is clear. Face-to-face appointments will be the minority option. However, time freed up by online consultations may mean that in-person appointments could stretch beyond the customary 10 minutes. Where the surrounding demographic is older, the approach will need to take this into account. GPs are happy to recognise the benefits of remote consultations, but emphasise that they shouldn’t become the default.


About LDA Research

LDA Research was set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar. The close-knit, core team now works with a global network of trusted associates. LDA carries out qualitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


When it comes to fieldwork, the LDA Reasearch team is made up of experts in the provision of pharmaceutical and medical qualitative research. Give us a call to find out more – 01525 861436

How Can Healthcare Companies Help to Tackle Obesity?

How Can Healthcare Companies Help to Tackle Obesity?

The personal is now political – how can healthcare companies help to tackle obesity in the age of Covid?

For decades now, we’ve been aware that obesity shortens lives by making us more susceptible to heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Obesity rates in the UK are high, with 7 in 10 men and 6 in 10 women overweight, or obese. A worrying number of children are now living with obesity even before they start school, a condition which is likely to have an impact throughout their lives.


Obesity and Covid-19

Data gathered throughout the Covid-19 ‘peak’ in the UK demonstrates that there is a link between obesity and Covid-19 hospitalisation and deaths. Evidence cited by Public Health England shows that people testing positive with Covid-19, who are overweight, or living with obesity, are:

  • More likely to be admitted to hospital
  • More likely to be admitted to intensive care, and require advanced treatment
  • Potentially at higher risk of Covid-19 related death

The Government Obesity Strategy 2020

“These plans are ambitious and rightly so. Tackling obesity will help prevent serious illness and save lives.” Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE

Described as “one of the biggest health crises the country faces”, the links to Covid have made obesity a priority for the present government. A new raft of measures has been designed to improve the health of the nation, lower the risk of Covid deaths for the population, and protect the NHS against a ‘second wave’.

The measures include a ban on TV adverts for unhealthy foods prior to 9pm, an end to ‘buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy items, the listing of calories on menus, and a public comms campaign, including the use of apps, to encourage people to eat healthily, exercise and understand nutrition.

The Reaction From GPs

Having collected reactions from GPs to the government’s strategy, three distinct strands emerge:

  1. Access to Internet for Target Demographic. One GP we spoke to was clear that the patients he sees are from a deprived area, and are unlikely to have access to the internet, or phones. The app wouldn’t be appropriate to them, therefore. There was also concern that older people would be unlikely to use an app to help them lose weight weight, or eat more healthily.
  2. Effective Communications. In order to reach the government’s target demographic, a basic strategy such as a printed leaflet could be the best option. It should be easy to read, available in a number of different languages, and offer small simple changes people can remember. Maybe even a tear-off list – something that’s tailored to how life really is for most people.
  3. Fostering Engagement. For GPs the most effective way to approach obesity with patients is to have a supportive conversation that focuses on the positives that can easily be achieved. Often it’s a shock – like a heart attack, or Covid-19 – that ‘wakes people up to tackling their weight’. Then they need to have suggestions that are appropriate to their lives. “It’s not about running a marathon. It’s small changes. Like just going for a walk.”

For Healthcare Companies – Simple is Best

Practical advice, like a free exercise programme that could be prescribed to people living with obesity, would be a great help. We know that people living in areas of social and economic deprivation are less motivated to lose weight, due to the range of anxieties they face each day. For them, simple solutions that cost nothing, presented in a familiar language, and in a format that is available to all, is by far the most effective approach.


About LDA Research

LDA Research was set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar. The close-knit, core team now works with a global network of trusted associates. LDA carries out qualitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


We specialise in qualitative research using a range of online and offline methodologies. Give us a call to find out more – 01525 861436

How is Covid-19 Reshaping Medical Market Research

How is Covid-19 Reshaping Medical Market Research?

How is Covid-19 Reshaping Medical Market Research?

The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated headlines since March 2020, and affected every part of our social, private and professional lives. We’ve all had to learn to adapt, in fairly extreme ways, to the changes the virus has wrought. Now as we move beyond its initial stages in the UK, there’s time to consider the nature of those changes and the impact they’ve had on the sectors in which we work.

LDA Research is a qualitative research provider specialising in medical market research for the pharmaceutical and medical device sector. We observed that, over the lockdown period, healthcare professionals quickly adopted meeting platforms as a key communication strategy. Likewise, medtech and pharmaceutical companies escalated their use of digital communication.

Given the necessary focus on the digital space for our clients, LDA Research was able to contribute innovative insight gathering methods. These facilitated ongoing qualitative research and opened up a range of new possibilities going forward.


Innovative Market Research Solutions

For all medical research companies, it has become impossible to run face-to-face research. LDA Research has long been recognised as a leader in the development of creative and innovative research methodologies. This stood us in good stead when tackling Covid challenges.  We were able to offer our clients a number of digitally-located research methods. These cost less than face-to-face meetings, provide a secure environment, and offer comparative research outcomes.

Using Digital Meeting Platforms for Qualitative Research

Prior to Covid, many of our medical market research clients had expressed a natural preference for physical focus groups. This is completely understandable as a face-to-face encounter ‘feels’ more authentic and allows clients direct access and real time interaction . Having to move to group meetings online, however, has proved far less of a leap than might have been expected.

Choosing the right meeting software was key to making the process work. We found that Microsoft Teams was accessible to the greatest number of our participants; doctors – for example – are already using this software in their work. It was easy to download, or access, and it worked well for the group sizes we facilitate.

Our clients were able to observe the participants via the screen, without being visible. And it was easier for the project sponsor to communicate directly to the moderator during the session because they were no longer in a separate room.


Creative Online Qualitative Research Methods

Once technology becomes a creative partner in medical market research, the potential for its use proliferates rapidly. The LDA team are known for their new and innovative medical market research methodologies. The events of 2020 have allowed us to utilise many of these innovations.

We are experts in:

  • Daily/weekly video diaries
  • Online questionnaires tracking participants’ responses over a period of days or weeks
  • Participants receive products by post.  Photo responses demonstrate problems, or positive/salient experiences
  • Voice blogs

New Research Questions Following on From Covid

The way that we perceive and work within healthcare has changed for the short-term – and possibly forever – thanks to Covid. We’re currently involved in studies considering ways in which NHS patients can be managed without using a ‘trip to the hospital’ as a default solution. LDA Research are also undertaking research into how product manufacturers can communicate in different ways with healthcare professionals, that minimise the need for face-to-face contact.

The legacy of fresh and innovative insight gathering approaches provided by LDA Research is now helping to determine the future direction of medical market research in a post-Covid world.


About LDA Research

LDA Research was set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar. We’re a small, core team working alongside a global network of trusted associates. We carry out qualitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


If you’re looking for a fresh and innovative approach to medical marketing research, give us a call to find out more about what we do – 01525 861436

Update on COVID-19

Update on COVID-19

Update on COVID-19

A very flexible and resilient bunch, we here at LDA Research are going forward with all our market research work. However, we must proceed according to the measures recommended by experts and the Government. Please see below a summary of the situation.

The British Government published its Covid-19 action plan on March 3rd. Recommendations in the workplace are:

  • To work from home whenever possible.
  • To promote meetings by video conference.
  • To avoid non-essential trips.

Impact on Market Research

We can and will continue with our activity as regards methodologies that do not require an in-person presence (TDIs, WATIs, virtual days, etc.), but F2F methodologies (1-on-1, focus groups) are on hold until further notice.

Note that with the school closures and the increased workload in hospitals, many physicians’ agendas are and will be much busier and with last-minute changes, so we strongly recommend being flexible with respect to fieldwork timings and understanding with the rescheduling of interviews.

Impact on Target Feasibility

We anticipate difficulties trying to interview the following targets:

  • ICU and ER specialists
  • Respiratory consultants
  • IM and ID specialists
  • GPs
  • Nurses of all mentioned departments

All these different specialists are working under a lot of pressure doing longer shifts and having to be available for emergencies at any time.

Regarding the other specialists, we don’t anticipate major difficulties, but we have to take into account that all HCPs have been asked to be ready for an emergency situation where they may need to cover for the above-mentioned targets.

Therefore, we here at LDA Research anticipate the need to be very patient, flexible and understanding. All our HCPs are under a lot of pressure and every day they are receiving new information and procedures on how to proceed.

Recruitment timings will inevitably be longer, and we should be ready for re-scheduling interviews and having to extend fieldwork timings.

Regarding patient studies, we must consider that patient associations have been forced to interrupt their activity and re-organise their resources to work from home. And physicians will have limited ability to help us with patient recruitment as all their routine has been altered; they are not seeing patients with the same frequency (they are focusing their activity on urgent matters only), and because of their tiredness they might not want to do the necessary extra work to contact potential patient respondents. In general, the feeling is this it is not the time to bother people for non-essential matters, and they consider that interviews for MR are not included in this group.


At LDA Research, we are fully prepared to make sure your projects can be run in the most successful way. We have a team of PMs and moderators who are tech savvy and much experienced in virtual platforms. Here at LDA Research we are enabled to offer teleworking, so we will be able to continue as normal. In fact, it is already part of our business model (for those late-night calls), so please be reassured of our correct operation.

Please request specific advice for your individual project, regardless of its state (e.g. fieldwork or RFQ).

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with LDA Research, either regarding the overall situation in the UK or in relation to specific studies. We will continue, as always, to work professionally to meet your needs.


LDA Research are fully prepared to make sure your projects can be run successfully during the Covid-19 pandemic. For enquiries, call us on 01525 861436.

A Framework for Effective Medical Market Research Moderation

A Framework for Effective Medical Market Research Moderation

A Framework for Effective Medical Market Research Moderation

At LDA Research, we’re well aware of the key role our moderators play in successfully delivering medical market research interviews. That’s why we work with specialist moderators, all of whom have either worked in the medical sector, or held senior medical research positions. This allows them to confidently dig a little deeper when conducting qualitative field research.


The Role of the Medical Market Research Moderator

A good moderator is far more than an articulate interviewer. LDA clients are looking for the kind of detailed field research which can only arise out of an interview that employes elements of conversational flow. The give and take of this more personal exchange allows personally-held opinions, and beliefs to be shared without fear of misrepresentation, or misunderstanding.

This requires moderators who:

  • Exhibit clear professional understanding of the discussion topic
  • Demonstrate an authentic interest in the discussion
  • Show respect for the knowledge and views of respondents
  • Know how to manage the flow of an interview to ensure it concludes on time
  • Accurately summarise respondents’ answers
  • Listen actively and respond without becoming emotionally involved

At LDA Research we are able to guarantee our clients moderators who meet all these criteria. But we also go a step further. We know that even the best moderator will be unable to achieve their best work if the framework that supports them is weak.


We have five rules that govern all the work we do with our medical market research:

1. Introduce Moderators to Respondents

The quality of the relationship between moderator and respondent begins with their introduction to each other. We don’t leave anything to chance at this crucial stage, therefore. We always introduce moderators, by name, as soon as we can. The introduction always includes contact details which would normally include email, mobile phone number and landline. Once the intro is made, our moderators will follow up.

2. Provide Detailed Schedule for Moderators

The interview event is the most important aspect of the research. So we make absolutely sure that the moderator is given the interview date as soon as it’s confirmed with the respondent. At this stage we also provide detailed notes on where the respondent will be when carrying out the interview, and whether there are contingencies (such as an emergency call out) that could cut the interview short.

3. Keep Moderators Involved

Moderators are copied in to all email correspondence with respondents once the introduction has been made. This builds the relationship with the respondent, and keeps them involved in ongoing arrangements leading up to interview. We want to ensure, at every stage, that the moderator is closely involved with the process leading to interview.

4. Provide all Necessary Documents Before Being Asked

We’re proactive in our provision of documentation for moderators. And for good reason. We want our moderators to have plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the discussion guide, and materials. We know our moderators are professionals who need time to reflect on the goal of the interview in order to consider how best to achieve it. So, for example, we’ll set up a pre-survey run through with the aim of considering the spectrum of expected answers, and we encourage moderators to ask questions at this stage. Our aim is always to obtain the best data.

5. Fully Brief Moderators on Software and Innovative Formats

At LDA Research we pride ourselves on the innovative nature of our research formats. This means that we need to keep our moderators fully briefed when using new software applications, or delivery methods. We recently ran a workshop that involved war gaming and virtual hospital modelling with nurses and pharmacists. In this instance, we provided detailed briefing and materials prior to the workshop to allow moderators to try out the software and feel confident using it.


LDA Research Creates The Foundations for Successful Research Interviews

LDA Research is a learning organisation that relies on our moderators not only to deliver well, but also to offer us feedback on how we’re doing. All feedback is considered carefully, and often leads to adjustments in how we operate. The end goal is always the very best qualitative research outcomes for our clients, and we’re confident we have the support network to achieve this.


Looking for bespoke qualitative medical market research, supported by expert moderators? Call LDA Research on 01525 861436 to find out more about the services we offer.

The Effective Use of Email to Communicate with HCP's

The Effective Use of Email to Communicate with HCP’s

The Effective Use of Email to Communicate with Healthcare Professionals

It’s a tough job recruiting healthcare professionals to medical market research. They’re busy, you’re a low priority, and the clock’s always ticking. So how to capture your HCP’s attention, get them engaged, and build a rapport? It’s important first, to find the right mode of communication and second, to ensure that your messages get read.

Email remains the preferred mode of contact for most HCPs, and it’s a great medium for starting a conversation and building rapport. On the downside, the average HCP’s inbox is full of competing claims on his or her time. So how can you write emails in such a way to ensure they get seen, get opened, and get read, consistently?


Building an Email Relationship With HCPs

Demonstrating that you know and understand your recipient’s working environment is key to effective communication. We all react more generously when addressed respectfully, appropriately, and with due consideration. It’s also a precursor to the development of trust, which means that we’re more likely to respond positively to subsequent communications.


1. Keep it Concise

Here are 5 things we’ve found that help in building an email relationship with HCPs:

  • Be upfront and clear about what you want
  • Strip out anything that’s unnecessary
  • Keep paragraphs short and concise
  • Use emboldened titles and bullet points
  • MAKE IT EASY TO RESPOND POSITIVELY TO YOUR REQUEST

Remember, busy people like to be able to complete tasks easily. So offering a simple way to respond to your request is likely to achieve a quick, positive response.

2. Remove All Distractions

When your brain is already overcrowded, the last thing you need is a busy email full of colours, animations and fancy fonts. Think carefully about your formatting when contacting healthcare professionals. You want an easy-to-read font, set at a standard size. And avoid complicated signatures. Any contact information should be clear and unfussy.

3. Compose Your Subject Line Carefully

This is the key to getting your email opened, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on it. A question always engages the reader’s mind, as does the use of direct address. Take care, though, that your subject line doesn’t look ‘tricksy’ or clever, as this tends to be off-putting. The best subject lines are direct, honest, and to-the-point.

4. Demonstrate Your Understanding of Confidentiality

The General Data Protection Regulation requires that all personal identification is kept private. Demonstrate your understanding of this by never sharing an HCP’s email address with anyone else in an email chain. Set yourself a series of personal privacy checks before clicking ‘send’. It’s all too easy to forward an email on and inadvertently share email addresses. One slip like this and trust could be broken. Make privacy a priority.

5. Don’t Share Personal Information by Email

Emails are like postcards. Maybe they won’t be read by anyone but you and your HCP, but assume there’s every likelihood that they will. With that in mind, avoid sharing any personal information about medical conditions or their patients’ healthcare. If you share any attachments, password protect them so that only the designated recipient can read it.


LDA Research Are Specialists in Effective Communication

LDA Research was set up over 10 years ago with the aim of providing the highest quality medical market research. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success in providing qualitative research for the medical devices and pharmaceutical sector. Our team is known for its highly professional approach,  and its tenaciousness when it come to recruiting busy healthcare professionals both in the UK and across the world.

How to Manage Depth Interviews

How to Manage Depth Interviews

A Guide to Conducting In-Depth Medical Market Research Interviews

The in-depth interview is of huge value when it comes to the collection and analysis of qualitative medical market research data. It’s a tried and tested methodology which is most often carried out in a one-to-one format in person, by phone, or online. Key to the success of this kind of interviewing is that the interviewee feels relaxed and able to focus on the subject matter being discussed.

An experienced moderator will be able to create the ideal conditions for an in-depth interview, whether it’s taking place in Mexico, Manchester, Brazil or Birmingham. It’s all about recognising the needs of the interviewee, empathising with the challenges of their working context, and anticipating any problems that might arise.

Here’s our guide to creating the ideal conditions for in-depth interviews, wherever they’re taking place.

1. Choose the Venue Carefully

In-depth qualitative research interviews require concentration and focus. It’s important, therefore, to get the venue right. Ideally, the respondent will suggest the space that would suit them best. This may be their office, their home or a location arranged by the moderator. Where the interview is taking place by phone, or online, the options are more varied – so long as the environment is quiet, appropriately private, and easy for the respondent to access.

2. Understand Your Respondents’ Context

For the moderator, the in-depth interview will be a priority. Whereas, for the respondent, it’s an event that has to be slotted in to numerous other calls on their time. Events that may possibly disrupt the respondent include: overrunning appointments, need for immediate consultation, emergency patient surgery, change in medical treatment schedules, delivery of conference papers, or being too ill to attend.

When initially contacting interviewees, we ask them to select the appropriate time. Additionally, at the start of the interview, our first question is to confirm that the time is still convenient. Furthermore, we are always understanding when the interview needs to be interrupted.

3. Familiarise Yourself With the Cultural Context

Obviously, you need to know what the time is in Brazil when trying to set up an in-depth interview there (and be aware of daylight savings time differences!). But there’s a whole range of factors that have to be taken into consideration when managing in-depth interviews at home or abroad:

  • If planning for the UK, check the local traffic conditions for any major hold ups
  • Watch out for weather events, or high profile crimes that might impact the schedule
  • Check for cultural festivals which might impact on interviewee’s availability
  • Research the political conditions – are they stable, or disrupted? And could that impact the interview?

4. Prepare for Interview Disruption

If you plan for perfection, you’re likely to be tearing your hair out pretty quickly! At LDA Research we accept that, given the nature of the healthcare sector, it’s more likely than not that most interviews will be subject to some type of disruption. So we plan for the disrupted interview by briefing moderators carefully for this eventuality. They know the interview may be interrupted or may go on longer than planned. They’ll be aware of the overall intent of the research and the key questions, so they will be ready to summarise, recover and re-energise interviews when necessary.

5. Provide Respondents with the Resources They Need

This is where we think out of the box. The data our respondents provide is hugely valuable to us, so we need to demonstrate our readiness to go the extra mile for it. It all comes down to putting the respondent at the centre of the experience, then everything tends to fall into place. Here are our top tips:

  • Should  you have any concerns at all about language barriers, hire a good translator who is experienced in this kind of work
  • When interviewing face-to-face, find out if the interviewee needs any disability support
  • If providing refreshments in face-to-face in-depth interviews, check dietary requirements. Or if there are multiple participants, have a range of options for various dietary requirements (e.g. allergies, vegan choices, halal choices)
  • Be prepared for poor, or disrupted connections, and have back-up plans that have been discussed in advance
  • If you sense that that the respondent is becoming distracted, or tired, have options for taking a break and then continuing

LDA Research Provides Global Eyes and Ears for Clients

Our clients rely on us to provide them with the breadth and depth of global medical market research they require. We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and will do everything we can to deliver rich qualitative data. First and foremost, this means detailed and creative planning at every stage of the process. And well-briefed expert moderators who are able to adapt and be flexible, without losing focus and concentration.

How Do You Manage GDPR in Face-to-Face Research Interviews?

How Do You Manage GDPR in Face-to-Face Research Interviews?

How Do You Manage GDPR in Face-to-Face Research Interviews?

You may remember all the ‘opt-in’ pop-ups that started appearing on websites last Spring? That was due to the General Data Protection Regulation which came into effect in May 2018.  The aim of the regulation was to protect online consumers from having their personal data misused for marketing purposes. The practices that it sought to curb included:

  • Selling on data to third parties
  • Using data to ‘cold call’ consumers
  • Storing online or physical data longer than necessary
  • Not knowing where data was kept
  • Offering inadequate protection from cybercrime

Key to the GDPR’s impact is the power of the Independent Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to levy huge fines. Businesses or individuals found to be in breach, can be fined up to 4 million euros, or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is the most. These eye-watering figures are enough to make anyone handling personal data in a professional capacity sit up and take notice.

How Does the GDPR Affect Qualitative Research?

LDA Research has always taken privacy of personal data extremely seriously, given the nature of our research. The launch of the GDPR was, however, a great opportunity to audit our research practices. Given the range of research methodologies we employ, we approached the task by looking at each methodology separately. In this blog we’ll be sharing our compliance guidelines for face-to-face research interviews.

What is Personal Data?

One of the most helpful aspects of the GDPR is the clarity with which it identifies what personal data is. It includes, of course, the obvious identity markers such as: name, address, photo, phone number, signature, email address, job role, age, ethnic identification. But it also emphasises the importance of recognising how scraps of information can be pieced together to identify someone. This places a requirement upon researchers to be extremely vigilant when capturing data.

How is Personal Data Stored?

Personal data can be captured on audio file, video recordings, online forms, written notes, letters, social media, health records or job profiles. These are stored in various ways, from notebooks, to online documents, to paper records and data bases. The GDPR requires that there are tight controls on what data is captured, how long it’s kept, who it’s shared with and when it’s deleted.

Step-by-Step Guide to Managing GDPR in Face-to-Face Research Interviews

Step 1. Make sure that your Data Privacy policy is up-to-date and share with everyone involved. Participants have a right to access their data or request its removal so make sure contact details for this purpose are available.

Step 2. Make clear rules about how online information is shared. Secure document sharing is preferable to email. There are a number of options including: DropBox, ShareFile, SharePoint. Always set a date for access revocation.

Step 3. Anonymise all participant data as soon as possible, and certainly before it is shared with clients and wider team. It is never OK to share personal data without the express permission of the participant.

Step 4. Before starting the interview it’s good practice to explain what data will be captured and how it will be distributed and stored. Any audio, or video recording requires the written permission of the participant.

Step 5. Make it a rule of thumb that no participant data is captured in the course of the interview. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use each other’s names – but it must be redacted from the recording or transcript before being passed to anyone outside the company or the UK/EU. This extends to ensuring that no visual personal information from the environment is picked up on photos, or video.

Step 6. Ensure that all data storage is encrypted and secure. Access should be limited to password holders, and be scheduled to end on a specified date. The location of all data relating to individual participants is required to be logged, and a deletion date set, including emails arranging the face to face interview.

Maintaining Good GDPR Practice

Qualitative research depends on a relationship based on trust between the interviewer and their participant. GDPR is an important building block in that relationship. Highlighting the emphasis you place the legal requirement for data to remain private is reassuring for interviewees, and underpins your professional status.

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How Does a ‘Detailed Follow Up’ Work?

LDA Research Helps You to Assess the Impact of Product Communications

One aspect of the work we do at LDA Research is to support pharmaceutical companies in bringing new products to market. We may be asked to carry out competitor analysis, or develop research which supports decisions on how the product is positioned in the market. Our qualitative research helps to ensure that messaging is clear and that it addresses the issues that healthcare professionals and their patients are keen to address.

Equally important though, is knowing how existing products are being promoted to healthcare professionals, and the impact a given product is having on the market as a whole. This is revealed through the use of pharma rep assessments, or Detailed Follow Ups (DFUs). They are carried out to provide our pharmaceutical clients with detailed reporting on the level of influence and sales success their marketing strategy is achieving with HCPs.

The Role of the Medical Sales Representatives

The medical sales representative is a lynchpin in the success of a new pharmaceutical product. They are the link between the producers of the product, and the sector consumers. Unlike more traditional salesman, the pharmaceutical rep has an educative and strategic role to play:

  • Education. The sales rep keeps physicians, GPS and pharmacists informed as to the latest developments in the pharmaceutical sector. This occurs in one-to-one meetings, or organised group events.
  • Connectors. Sales reps connect healthcare professionals with the latest research, drugs and treatment which benefit their patients. Pharma reps will often present at conferences.
  • Providers. Of course, the sales rep is also the provider of new pharmaceutical products to major healthcare buyers such as the NHS.

Clear Messaging for Pharma Reps

Pharma reps build up a network of trusted HCP networks over time. The endorsements they are able to give to products has the potential to impact sales within their geographical region. For this reason, it’s hugely important that the positioning of new products, and the research that supports them, is persuasive and readily available to pharma reps.

Detailed Follow Ups are a popular way for pharmaceutical companies to find out how their product is being introduced to healthcare professionals. The key questions to address are:

  • How does the product perform against its competitors?
  • What impact is the agreed positioning of the product having?
  • Are healthcare professionals recognising the full range of benefits the product offers?

How Does a ‘Detailed Follow Up’ Work?

One potential way to do to assess a products impact would be to ask the pharma reps themselves. However, the only clear indication reps have of their success, is through sales.

Alternatively LDA’s market research work would normally approach the buyers of pharmaceutical products, rather than the sellers. This is because we are looking for a nuanced understanding of the impact or a marketing strategy. Any new product takes time to impact the market through sales, so DFUs are looking for HCP impressions and buying signals that register future intent.

DFUs – The Process

LDA Research provides Detailed Follow Ups on a regular basis for our pharmaceutical clients. They take the form of meetings with groups of healthcare professionals or individual discussions via telephone. Our assessments follow up on scheduled promotions of a product. Their function is to discover the impact their promotion has had on medical consumers.

Our high calibre moderators all have long experience in the healthcare sector, either through research or practical experience, and they’re able to engage interviewees in informed discussion. Our questions will test:

  • The technical and selling skills of the rep
  • The quality of the sustained relationship the rep has with the interviewee
  • The materials used by sales reps
  • The impact of the messaging
  • The sales impact of the rep’s promotion on the interviewee

Questioning will focus on the quality of the pharma rep’s work, but will also assess, indirectly:

  • The competitiveness of the brand position
  • The credibility of the brand positioning
  • The perceived value of the product

Reporting on DFUs

Key to any DFU research is the insight into the interviewee’s intention to prescribe the given medicine. Our questioning is also designed to reveal what the key elements are that are driving that intention.

Our reports provide clients with the detailed information they need to support, revise and strengthen medical marketing to ensure maximum impact for their product.