Healthcare IT System Integration Research

Healthcare IT System Integration Research

Medical market research has traditionally concerned itself primarily with clinicians, nurses, patients, pharmacists and medical reps. More recently, though, LDA Research has extended its focus to include an additional professional sector within the healthcare context. It’s one that’s made up of a vast array of roles including IT infrastructure engineers, CIOs and CMIOs. The size of the team involved reflects the growing importance of IT system integration as a key component of health care improvements.

What is IT System Integration?

The NHS is in the process of integrating IT into its primary care practices. This requires complex system integration  in order to co-ordinate and share patient information across all applications in the health care sector. Secure use and sharing of Electronic Medical Records (ERM) has the potential to improve cost effectiveness, whilst enhancing the quality of care on offer.

The proven benefits of IT system integration are:

  • Complete, accurate information for HCPs, whatever the context.
  • Enhanced co-ordination of care, especially where the patients are suffering from complex medical conditions.
  • The potential for information sharing between HCPs and family carers.
  • Rapid and accurate diagnosis of health conditions.

What Does IT System Integration Research Involve?

As with every IT system, the architecture will only be as good as the knowledge upon which it is built. LDA Research is, therefore, involved in developing that knowledge via its database of specialist IT respondents in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. There are 4 distinct, but intersecting areas of research:

  1. Data Privacy. Given the sensitivity of the ERM data, the input of CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) is critical. Together they are responsible for the security of patients’ data, efficient adoption of new systems, and the perception of IT within the NHS culture.
  2. Network Infrastructure Engineers. Knowledge of how the current NHS IT infrastructure works is held by the engineers who support and maintain them. They know where systems are working, where there are challenges, and which technologies are currently being adopted, or not, within the healthcare environment.
  3. IT Users in NHS. This is a broad grouping which includes receptionists, clinicians, nurses, consultants and executives. The functions of IT will range from booking systems, to records updates, to smart technology being implemented on wards.
  4. Ambulatory Care. IT integration has huge potential benefit in this area. Ambulatory care offers same day emergency care for patients. The aim of this model is to streamline clinical processes, in order to reduce admissions and improve patient flow.

The HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM)

The integration of a hospital IT system is a complex process and it cannot be achieved overnight. The EMRAM model offers both a roadmap which hospitals can follow, and a maturity model whereby hospitals can measure their progress against global counterparts. It comprises an eight-stage (0-7) model which measures the adoption and utilisation of electronic medical record (EMR) functions, with the ultimate goal being a paperless environment.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is a qualitative medical market research provider. Founded a decade ago by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA Research team is committed to being the eyes and ears of our clients wherever they need us to be and whatever they need to know.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about IT system integration research? Call us today on 01525 861436.

DFUs for Medical Sales Reps in a Post-Lockdown Environment

DFUs for Medical Sales Reps in a Post-Lockdown Environment

The life of a pharmaceutical sales rep looks very different today from two years ago. Back then face-to-face sales meetings were standard practice across the NHS. COVID-19 and its attendant restrictions on in-person meetings put paid to this. One GP told us that reps became wary of any kind of contact with GPs during the two lockdowns:

“Our practice continued meetings with reps throughout the pandemic, though at reduced frequency. This was mainly due to reps and their companies assuming practices did not want to/did not have time to have meetings with reps during what was perceived as a busy period for the NHS.“

This perception is echoed by Ewan Crosbie, Associate Director of Silver Fern Research. Given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic, he acknowledges the need to tread carefully as Pharma reps navigate a post-pandemic course:

“The last 18 months has seen a shift from almost 100% face-to-face interactions, to nothing, before the rise of webinars and virtual 1:1 meetings via Teams/Zoom. Now the possibility of face-to-face is open again, but to what extent will this return? Pharma have invested heavily in the digital options and HCPs have become accustomed to having open access to a multitude of topics, anytime, anywhere. But, there is a very real need for face-to-face interactions.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen regarding interactions between HCPs and Pharma is how to strike the balance. How many interactions do you offer? What type of interactions? And how do you approach them? Some claim to have been bombarded by emails, whilst others feel companies have become invisible. This can be due to a rep being furloughed or having been made redundant, or simply not reaching out.”

Pharma Companies and the ‘New Normal’

COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare services and this has changed both the practice and expectations of healthcare professionals when it comes to in-person sales meetings. Research carried out by Curzon Consulting found that:

  • 60% of surgeons think that in-person sales will be restricted, even after the vaccination programme is complete and lockdown restrictions end
  • Of the 75% of physicians who opted for in-person sales prior to COVID-19, 47% stated that they would now prefer a virtual meeting or less frequent visits.

Whilst it’s clear that face-to-face meetings won’t disappear entirely, a more hybrid model is beginning to emerge. This will require adaptation on the part of healthcare professionals, the sales force, and companies like LDA Research which conducts ‘Detailed Follow Ups’ (DFUs) on behalf of pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Adapting to New Expectations

A GP we spoke to about in-person sales said that they had resumed at his practice “as we believe the personal relationship with the rep is more important than meetings showing endless slides for products that are essentially quite similar to their competitors with little difference between them.” In this case value was perceived to lie in a developed, trust-based relationship with individual reps, in contrast to the more impersonal demonstration of products via a screen.

Where personal interaction is replaced by digital interaction, ‘value’ is recognised to reside in the creation of new kinds of digital resources. These include education on remote patient care, information on medical conditions related to COVID-19, and educative content for patients in a digital format.

Working closely with pharmaceutical companies has persuaded Ewan Crosbie (Silver Fern) that the long absence of face-to-face interaction has made HCPs value their medical sales reps more than ever:

“There’s a vast array of webinars that are offering HCPs extensive educational opportunities (almost too many, they have to be quite selective) but now HCPs are ready for them to get back to doing what they were doing. Many of them are ‘Zoom fatigued’. They want some form of face-to face interaction to return, and (re)build their relationships but for it not to be overdone.”

Detailed Follow Ups Post COVID-19

LDA Research is one of a small number of medical market research companies in the UK that provides DFUs for medical device and pharmaceutical companies. We get involved once the sales reps have had meetings with healthcare professionals, and entered details of the interaction on a database. Our job is to contact people on the database in order to check their communication of the agreed messaging with reference to:

  • How the product performs against its competitors.
  • The impact of the agreed positioning on healthcare buyers.
  • Whether the full range of benefits are recognised by healthcare professionals.

DFUs have always been a painstaking, time-consuming task – which is why it’s a service many agencies don’t offer. The LDA Research team will continue to work alongside clients to adapt our practices going forward. It is likely that DFUs will evolve to include the relative impact of different communication strategies, and the perceived value attached to different kinds of digital content.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is an international qualitative research provider. Founded in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA Research team is committed to being the eyes and ears of our clients wherever they need us to be.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about sales reps monitoring DFUs? Call us today on 01525 861436.

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

Just under a year ago we wrote a blog that considered the UK-wide implementation of GP remote consultations, and its impact on the experience of patients. Since writing that we’ve had two further ‘lockdown’ periods and are currently coping with the Delta Variant. As the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the LDA Research team thought it an appropriate moment to revisit the use of technology for patient consultations.

We asked a range of patients how they have coped with GP remote consultations over the past few months. Based on their responses, we’ve come up 3 considerations that are likely to be key to their ongoing application for local GP surgeries.

The Rapid Implementation of Remote Consultations

In 2020 the avoidance of face-to-face contact between patients and HCPs became an integral part of the UK’s attempt to contain coronavirus. The implementation of technology-facilitated consultations was one of the most extensive and rapid reforms undertaken by the NHS since its inception. The success of the operation was even more impressive given that it involved a significant change in the relationship between doctors and their patients.

Technologies Used by NHS Patients During 1st Lockdown.

YouGov research carried out in October 2020 showed that the most common experience of remote consultations was by phone. The use of video consultations occurred via askmyGP software which was being trialled in a number of GP practices prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. Where the software was originally in use, adoption of video consultations dipped in March 2020, before returning to 2019 averages. Telephone consultations, however, increased by 12% as did online messaging.

Patient Responses to Tech-Based GP Consultations

For the public, the rapid roll-out of tech solutions in the NHS represented emergency measures taken in a national crisis situation. The fact that medical services were maintained under these conditions garnered widespread approval. Younger people in particular reported a positive experience:

22-year-old, no serious health conditions

“I don’t frequently attend the doctors, and as I have no serious illnesses/concerns I don’t have a problem with having a virtual consultation, for the most part. If I think back to when I did used to go to the doctors pre-covid it’s only ever been a quick chat that could’ve been done over the phone, so I think it’s convenient. Especially if it’s during the week when you’re working, you can just wait for the phone call instead of having to make the trip and then enduring the waiting times. I think it’s more time convenient.

However, I think I would like the option, depending on the nature of the issue. If it’s something that I would physically want them to see or check I would want to go in but if it’s something where I can just talk about my symptoms, I would happily do that over the phone/video.

For example, I recently had a change with a mole and wanted to get it checked but I was just asked to send a picture of it. I had a slight worry that it may not be the most effective method and I thought is sending across a picture enough?”

Where patients had an ongoing relationship with a GP practice, perhaps due to health problems over a period of time, responses tended to be positive. Trusting relationships with HCPs are difficult to nurture via a video screen or telephone, so relationships developed in person, and then maintained in a hybrid form (where restrictions allow), are considered a productive use of technology.

48-year-old woman with long-standing, complex and serious health problem

“I’m lucky with my GP and my consultants – I think that the fact that they know me well and that I have a healthcare background helps a lot with communication. I find our current system with my GP very easy to use and it allows me to fit medical consultations around work.

At my practice, you fill in an online form outlining what you need and that is then reviewed by the doctor. You can request an appointment also through the portal. Recently I had a lump on my hand that I was worried about as I am at high risk of skin cancer because of previous ciclosporin use. I was able to describe the problem and upload a picture. The GP called me back the next day and invited me to pop down to see him. So I got a face-to-face appointment within 30 minutes and also a referral to my dermatologist.

However, I appreciate that this system works best for people who are happy to use an online portal.”

Half of patients over 55 who accessed GP services via telephone or video felt that their experience offered a reduction in value when compared with pre-COVID-19 healthcare. This could be to do with older patients feeling less confident when using a smartphone, or laptop. Alternatively, patients over 55 are likely to have a number of health concerns they want to deal with, and a phone call may not be the appropriate way to manage them.

80 year old patient with multiple co-morbidities

“It has been really hard to access GP services over the last year and I feel a bit like I’ve been left to struggle on my own. Its almost impossible to get an appointment with a doctor and when I do get one it’s a phone call. It’s really hard to get the right help over the phone. I find it easy to forget what the doctor has said, also its hard for me to be prepared with what I want to say because they can phone at any time, this can be quite stressful. Sometimes I can be waiting for hours to receive a call.

If I am in pain or worried about something happening to me its hard to deal with. I would prefer to see the same doctor face to face, I have a mixture of health problems and they all effect each other, when we talk over the phone they only look at one thing, they also can’t really see how I am, which I think is important.

I need someone to see me and talk to me as a whole person and address these problems more holistically, which really can only be done face to face. I would also like to have a set appointment so I can bring someone with me and they can listen to what the doctor says also in case I forget something, I can’t do this if it’s a phone call.”

3 Considerations for the Future of GP Remote Consultations

Throughout the first UK lock-down, demands for appointments dropped and then rose again in the summer 2020. A year on, society is ‘learning to live with COVID’ and the demand for appointments is threatening to overwhelm GP practices.

In the context of COVID-19 vaccines, NHS England has recently offered new guidance to to GPs. It requires them to provide face-to-face appointments if patients state a preference. Remote consultations should be maintained and recommended “where patients find benefit in them”. Given that we are currently negotiating a new relationship with our GP practices, it may be helpful to consider:

1. Patients and HCPs need to collaborate in identifying the ‘benefits’ of remote consultations

Introducing technology as an emergency measure is very different from embedding it in communities as a standard way of accessing your GP. Consultation between GPs and patients would help to shift the cultural acceptance of this new form of access.

2. Not everyone has access to digital technology, or a safe space at home

We currently know very little about the impact a tech-first approach to healthcare has had upon poor and vulnerable communities with no access to the equipment or space needed for a remote consultation.

3. Think about the shift from crisis to ‘the new normal’.

As the national emergency starts to recede, surgeries have a cultural job to do in persuading patients that tech is good for normal life as well as lock-down life. This may require conversations about the best mix of online and face-to-face experiences for patients who will need to access GP services regularly.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is an international qualitative research provider. Set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associate. The LDA team can be your eyes and ears wherever you need to be. From local culture to regulation and reimbursement, we can be relied upon to find the appropriate specialists for your requirements.

Would you like to speak to LDA Research about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

Who Administers Wound Care? - An International Guide

Who Administers Wound Care? – An International Guide

Why LDA Research Goes the Extra Mile to Locate Rare Disease Specialists

Why LDA Research Goes the Extra Mile to Locate Rare Disease Specialists

The Challenge of Rare Disease Research

We’ve always been a medical marketing agency that ‘loves a challenge’. It’s this tenacious streak in our makeup that has shaped the work we do, and the clients we attract. Over the past decade LDA Research has consistently risen to the challenge of finding and enlisting doctors and specialist nurses who treat rare and low incidence diseases. Think of us as the Sherlock Holmes branch of the medical market research sector.

Why are Rare Disease Clinicians Hard to Find?

Clinicians working with ‘rare’ diseases are fewer in number, and their work is likely to fly under the radar. For this reason alone, locating them requires detailed and careful research. Many fieldwork companies prefer to work with clinicians already available to them via their panels. These typically favour high incidence conditions such as diabetes, or asthma, for example. LDA Research is different; we commit to putting in the time and legwork to find rare disease specialists.

Researching Hard-to-Access Healthcare Professionals

We will often begin by approaching charities to help us to locate clinicians working with specific diseases, alongside secondary research which will enable us to identify specialist treatment centres and key opinion leaders. This painstaking work eventually allows us to review the output of specialists working in a particular field, in order to find potential participants who fit our profile requirements. As we get to know and work with doctors and specialist nurses for a disease type, they may suggest other people we might want to contact.

Our Rare and Low Incidence Disease Research

Medical market research carried out in the past 12 months includes:

  • Cystic Fybrosis – researching the impact of COVID-19 on its treatment (UK).
  • Cystinosis – message testing (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).
  • Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) – Research into the future treatment landscape for this disease in order to target product profile (Canada, China, Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain).
  • Myelofibrosis – Detail aid testing (Republic of Ireland, UK).
  • Narcolepsy – Patient support programme (UK).
  • Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 1 (PH1) – Researching the treatment pathway for this disease and the range of patient support required (France, Germany, UK).
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) – novel therapeutic options (UK).
  • Surgical Robots – testing a new product concept (US, UK and Germany).
  • Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) – message testing with VWD treating physicians (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain).

The Impact of Rare Disease Research

The numbers of specialists working on rare disease types may be small, but the cumulative population is significant in terms of research. Without the insights that these healthcare professionals are able to provide, the perspective they represent would be unavailable to pharma providers.

Working with rare disease specialists allows us to fill in critical knowledge gaps for our clients. We may be assessing doctors’ openness to new kinds of treatment, or discovering new kinds of questions that we should be asking about a particular disease. The work we do ensures that insights that might otherwise be missed, are accessed and used to support patients.

LDA Research team are experts when it comes to locating hard-to-reach healthcare professionals for participation in medical market research. Give us a call to find out more – 01525 861436

How Was It For You? LDA Respondents Feed Back on Medical Market Research Participation

How Was It For You? LDA Respondents Feed Back on Medical Market Research Participation

The ‘patient experience’ of disease and its treatments is of huge value for pharmaceutical companies or medical device manufacturers. People who live day-in and day-out with a condition can provide unique perspectives on the impact it has on their lives, particularly where the disease is rare or low-prevalence. Among other things, the information shared via research interviews can be used to improve patient support programmes, test equipment and identify gaps in knowledge.

LDA Research now has a decade of experience recruiting patients globally to take part in surveys, one-to-one interviews and online ethnographic studies. We’re very good at finding patients willing to take part in research, and our experienced moderators are at ease as interviewers or facilitators. For most of our respondents though, being the subject of research is a unique and unusual event. We surveyed some of them to find out more about their experience of medical market research participation.

Respondent Feedback Surveys

In order to access respondents’ feedback on participating in research studies, we surveyed two patient groups we’d recently worked with; stoma users and Alzheimer’s patients. Individuals in both groups had participated in one-to-one online interviews for LDA Research and were asked 5 questions relating to their experience.

1. Participatory Motivation

As researchers we were interested to know why people agreed to take part in research interviews. In both groups the responses to this question showed that there was altruism at work. Individuals wanted to use their experiences to help future patients. A number of the stoma users felt that they had developed an expertise that they were keen put to use for the good of others.

“I am always interested in helping out with research because it shapes the future for other people who need the services in the future.”

One Alzheimer’s participant was taking part because they had found it difficult to access any support, so the research was a way to evidence this. Another Alzheimer’s participant viewed the research as an opportunity to “use thinking skills” and “stay alert and active as I slow down mentally”.

2. Being Interviewed

Participants were asked what it was like to be interviewed about their condition. Both groups described the enjoyment they felt at being asked questions and having their responses listened to carefully, and valued. The interviewers were praised for creating a relaxed atmosphere, and giving time to the process.

“Length of time and one-to-one allowed for more in depth discussion with very friendly interviewer. Felt they were interested rather than just trial number gathering”

The stoma users were particularly pleased to know that their experiences were of use, and a few of them appreciated being able to ask questions of the interviewer and receive responses that added to their knowledge. One stoma respondent expressed relief at being able to talk easily about ‘embarrassing’ issues. Another was pleased to learn about the research that the interview was contributing to.

3. Advice on Improving Interviews

LDA constantly reviews their interview process, so we were interested to see if there were any suggestions for improvements from interviewees. When asked if there were any changes they would make to the interview set-up to improve the interview experience, the stoma group participants said they were entirely satisfied and wanted no changes.

Two members of the Alzheimer’s group felt that more reassurance and support prior to the interview would have been helpful to calm nerves. This kind of information is really useful to our ongoing support strategy. We currently work with a number of support groups and provide aftercare for our research participants.

4. How Does LDA Research Excel in Research Interviews?

The answers for this section of the survey were longer than for any other question and were similar across both groups:

  • They use plain language in communications and avoid ambiguity.
  • Friendly interviewers who put you at your ease.
  • There is clear respect for the views of patients and information is reliably passed on to clients.
  • Respondents are given plenty of time to respond to questions; there’s no feeling of pressure.
  • The interviewers are good at listening to the answers give, which is important because what we say shapes future developments.

5. Advice for Potential Respondents

The LDA team was particularly interested in this question, as the responses given provided valuable insights for the kind of approach we make to potential participants. As with Question 1, a number of the respondents emphasised the future benefits that respondents were contributing to – one of them described it as a “win-win” situation.

“Enjoy the experience with the knowledge that your answers will be helping to improve the care of whatever condition from that which they are suffering for themselves and others.”

One of the Alzheimer’s participants recommended participation as a means of improving your self-confidence. Another suggested that it’s a way to get your voice heard and help to shape future treatments. A number of respondents from both groups emphasised the need for ‘honesty’ when answering questions. One of them stated that honesty is important in order to “get better products”.

About LDA Research

LDA Research is an international research provider specialising in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. Our team is renowned for going the extra mile to find the right people for our clients. We use a range of methodologies to produce our qualitative research data. These are always facilitated by professional moderators and interviewers with previous experience working for medical companies or from senior roles in specialist healthcare market research.

If you would like to find out more about our approach, or talk to a member of the team about medical market research, call us today on 01525 861436

What Will Post-Lockdown Medical Market Research Look Like?

What Will Post-Lockdown Medical Market Research Look Like?

The long Covid winter is finally drawing to a close, and the UK is inching ever closer to a graduated end to lockdown. After a year of businesses scrambling to adapt to extraordinary circumstances, we’re now starting to wonder what awaits us as the ‘new normal’ asserts itself. We won’t be returning to the pre-Covid world – too much has changed to allow for that. But do we have a clear idea of what a post-Covid future looks like?

After the endless ‘present’ of the pandemic comes the opportunity for businesses to shape their future once more. The transition will involve making decisions about what we’ve learnt that’s useful, and what ‘got us through’ but is no longer required. At LDA Research we’re starting to review the changes we’ve experienced in the past 12 months,  in light of the future we want to shape for our clients.

4 questions have emerged for us that are key to determining what post-lockdown medical market research will look like:

How Will Global Vaccination Programmes Affect International Travel?

For global research organisations the pandemic is far from over. Whilst the UK vaccination programme is a success, and the dropping infection rates signal the end of lockdown for us, other countries are at different stages. Many European countries are still in some form of lockdown, and UNICEF reports that there are still 130 countries waiting to begin vaccinating their populations.

There is currently a lively discussion concerning the development of Vaccine Passports in order to maintain Covid-safe borders between countries. Until a system is established, travel between countries is unlikely to return to the seamless movement we experienced prior to Covid. As a result, tech solutions will remain central to LDA’s research offering.

Will Clients Want to Maintain Cost-Effective Online Methodologies?

Over the past year clients have experienced the magic of Zoom as an alternative to focus groups, in-person interviewing and tele-depth interviews. For telephone interviews this represents an upgrade to the interview experience, and it’s cost neutral. Where Zoom replaces person-to-person encounters it could be considered a ‘downgrade’, however it’s far cheaper and clients are enthusiastic adopters of the tech approach.

There’s no doubt clients will be looking at their budgets and seeing Zoom as a viable alternative to other kinds of research methodologies. Money, however, won’t be the only factor. Online research interviews allow clients to drop in on the process, and tweak the questions asked in response to what they see. This ‘hands-on’ option is a new kind of challenge for research facilitators to manage, whilst being hugely popular with clients who appreciate the new flexibility it affords.

Is There Any Rationale For Re-Introducing Face-to-Face Interviews?

The LDA Research team recognises that this is a delicate moment for the work of qualitative researchers. Costs, efficacy and pragmatism seem to be pointing towards a tech alternative to in-person groups. So we are taking time to survey the effects Zoom is having on our work and review the qualities that are lost when using the online alternative.

  • Dynamics. Group dynamics are altered when everyone is interacting from a different location. Most noticeably, the technology is not yet unobtrusive enough to allow for a natural conversational flow.
  • Research Aims. Some of the focus groups we set up are designed to reproduce the way a team interacts in their working environment. It is almost impossible to reproduce this kind of simulation online.
  • Product-Based Focus Groups. Online groups can’t touch, use, or experience new products online. Even if products can be sent to individuals, the quality of the experience is different to that of a group.
  • Range of Activities. There are a number of group activities that become ‘clunky’ or difficult online. Visual exercises, such as ‘mapping’ require the use of flip charts and pens. Break-out activities aren’t really possible.

Will Travel Remain Integral to The Research We Do?

Pre-Covid travel was very much a part of the LDA Research landscape. Projects were often planned around where clients, participants or specialists were located, and the cost of travelling and accommodation was ‘baked-in’ to the budget. Now those physical pre-conditions have melted away but our research has continued. So will travel become an anachronism – even within the UK – as we move forward?

There are plenty of reasons not to travel in the near future. The uneven rolling out of vaccinations, and the ongoing vulnerability of some participants make online meetings the default option. There’s also the advantage of being able to bring together experts remotely who might, in the past, have been hampered by distance.

The global pandemic is not, of course, the only crisis we’re facing. Our goals of reaching carbon neutrality over the next two decades will, in part, depend upon a reduction in the amount of travelling we do. Covid may just be nudging us in the right direction.

LDA Research is an international research provider specialising in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. If you would like to talk to a member of the team about our medical market research, call us today on 01525 861436

The Pros and Cons of Using Zoom for Qualitative Research

The Pros and Cons of Using Zoom for Qualitative Research

The global coronavirus pandemic catapulted Zoom into our collective consciousness overnight. All of a sudden everyone was using the verb ‘to Zoom’, and businesses were finding innovative ways to keep their relationships with clients alive as tumble-weed rolled through our town and city centres.

In early 2020 LDA Research was already testing out Zoom as part of our toolbox for qualitative research. What we couldn’t have anticipated, though, was the ready adoption of the platform by clients and participants once face-to-face meetings became impossible.

Is Zoom ‘the Future’ for Qualitative Research?

We’ve seen a growing appetite for the use of Zoom in medical market research this past year, and there’s no sign of it slowing. Given the enthusiasm of clients for the platform, the LDA Research team decided to carry out an internal survey on our usage of Zoom as a research tool over the past 12 months.

What the responses revealed were the strengths and weaknesses of this online methodology from the perspective of participants, clients and researchers. We have organised these into ‘pros and cons’ to get a snapshot of the impact Zoom is having on our work.

Pros of Working With Zoom

Responses have been collated under 3 headings. In each case we present perspectives from researchers, participants and clients:

1. The Quality of the Research Encounter

  • Participants. Being able to see the facilitator makes the experience more ‘real’ than TDIs. Especially important is being able to see their body language; when a facilitator smiles, or nods encouragingly, this helps to relax participants and increase their confidence. Whilst Zoom was preferred to phone interviews, there was no appetite for it replacing face-to-face interviews. Zoom was seen as a ‘stand-in’ for these, rather than an alternative.
  • Clients. The immediacy of being able to observe interviews was valued. Clients reported that they were able to ‘get a feel’ of the responses from participants. The cost-effectiveness of the Zoom methodology was appreciated. Many clients saw Zoom as a viable alternative to other methodologies, with the exception of German clients who saw it as ‘the best available in difficult circumstances’ rather than an alternative to in-person encounters.
  • Researchers. Working on Zoom allowed for a ‘flow’ of communication that would have been less likely on a phone interview. It’s easier to judge how the session is going, and it’s easier to help participants relax. You’re also able to show them products, rather than having to describe them. An excellent addition to the tool-box, but not a replacement. Some participants don’t like being on camera, for example, and prefer a phone call.

2. The Convenience of Using Zoom

  • Participants. It cuts out the travelling time, and you know exactly how much time it will take out of your day. It makes it easier to agree to participate in research interviews.
  • Clients. Using Zoom cuts down on the cost of carrying out research. You can drop in to sessions without having to travel to attend. Take-up rates are better.
  • Research. It makes it easier to recruit participants globally, not just in the UK. Time is a huge factor, so to be able increase time-efficiency is a huge benefit. Travel is reduced for us too, creating more space for other activities.

3. How Easy is Zoom to Use?

  • Participants. Zoom compares favourably with other video-conferencing options. It does rely on you having a good connection though and it’s frustrating if you keep dropping out.
  • Clients. Seems to work very well. Even where there are connection problems they tend to get solved quickly, and it doesn’t affect the session adversely.
  • Researchers. Really user-friendly; just about everyone feels confident using Zoom which makes our job easier. Where there are glitches due to poor connection, everyone tends to be patient and understanding.

Cons of Working With Zoom

We have collected the ‘cons’ into specific concerns raised by participants and/or researchers.

1. Privacy, Consent and GDPR

Researchers. One of the advantages of Zoom for qualitative researchers is that it’s easy to record sessions. Using the using the ‘Webinar’ function on Zoom makes it possible for foreign language interviews to be conducted using simultaneous translation, which is really useful for us. Microsoft Teams presents a GDPR concern as recordings are stored for 3 months on US servers which are subject to less stringent data privacy regulations than European servers.

2. Technical Difficulties

Participants. There are some concerns about being able to connect and sustain a connection. Some participants were worried that they wouldn’t be able to participate properly because of poor connection. There was also an anxiety about holding up the session if their connection went down.

3. Working With Different Markets

Researchers. The use of Zoom for group meetings with participants and clients in China can be problematic as availability is inconsistent. So we have switched to using InterVu (provided by Focus Vision) which provides great IT support. In order to ensure consistency for all participants, the LDA team books a physical meeting space at a central location. The video-conferencing software is set up, and there is someone on site to facilitate any IT issues that may arise.

Use of Zoom for Qualitative Research Going Forward

There’s no doubt that Zoom is an important addition to the range of online qualitative research methodologies we currently offer to our clients. We don’t, however, see it replacing the face-to-face interview. Obviously it’s unsuitable for product testing, but beyond that, there’s a value to face-to-face encounters that can’t be replaced even by the technical immediacy offered by Zoom.

Would you like to know more about the range of pharmaceutical and medical qualitative research carried out by LDA Research? Give us a call – 01525 861436

The Importance of Messaging That ‘Cuts Through’ for HCPs and Patients

The Importance of Messaging That ‘Cuts Through’ for HCPs and Patients

The Importance of Messaging That ‘Cuts Through’ for HCPs and Patients

Amongst the many lessons we will take away from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of getting public health messaging right. Mistakes – in this instance – can literally cost lives. The ‘Stay Alert’ campaign was widely criticised by the public and psychologists alike for its lack of practical guidelines. Campaigners have also been concerned by the lack of translated materials leading to late, or outdated dissemination of key messages to BAME communities.

Messaging is Key to the Work of HCPs

The issue of effective communication is central to much of the work that HCPs do. Handing patients specialist medications isn’t enough, in itself, to ensure their efficacy. The transaction is two way, requiring that patients take responsibility for administering the medication correctly in order to receive its benefits. And in the gap between prescription and application lies the crucial requirement for clear and effective communication.

HCP Messaging That Cuts Through

At LDA Research we’re interested in why communication between an HCP and their patient ‘cuts through’ in some instances, and fails to do so in others. What are the conditions required for messaging to be ‘heard’ and understood by patients? Where messaging fails, what are the causes and do they lie with the transmitter, or receiver of the information?

The LDA team has carried out numerous research projects with patients managing eczema, diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure and cancer. We collated our findings into ‘High Adherence Behaviours’ and ‘Low Adherence Behaviours’ in order to discern the differences in how diverse patient groups perceive a medical condition and their goals in treating it.

High Adherence Behaviours

Messaging is considered effective where the compliant behaviours are consistently adhered to by patients. We discovered that messaging is most effective where the condition being treated creates short term severe conditions, or where the conditions are severe and chronic. In both cases, the medication outcome is clear and unambiguous – a relief of severe symptoms.

A research project carried out by LDA Research with eczema patients found their condition to be “not life threatening but life altering.” Often sufferers are driven to seek out topical treatments in order to find relief. New injectable therapies such as Dupilumab require a high level of compliance; the patient needs to learn to self inject, manage medication storage and maintain a self injection regime. However, compliance is found to be high because the benefits are highly visible.

Low Adherence Behaviours

Eczema is a highly visible skin condition and sufferers often feel socially embarrassed by their symptoms. Conditions such as COPD, diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure are less visible. Where the symptoms of condition are more intangible, and the medication more preventative rather than curative, HCP messaging is often less effective. Patients may struggle to comply with their treatment regime.

In the case of asthma and COPD patients will tend to over-use rescue therapies, where the impact is immediate, and under-use preventative medication where the goal is deferred. What is lacking with preventative treatments is the motivational drive, possibly underpinned by an uncertainty as to the impact of the treatment on the disease.

4 Ways to Improve ‘Cut Through’ in Messaging

‘Cut through’ is critical to the health of patients, so the rewards of ongoing research and practical innovation in this area are substantial. Based on the work of LDA Research to date, we’re suggesting 4 recommendations for improvement:

  1. Aspirational Messaging. Where the impact of medication is intangible for patients, HCPs may benefit from a more aspirational approach. Asking the patient to imagine a future in which the symptoms are under control, and fully managed, helps to create a motivational goal even though the benefits are physically intangible at present.
  2. Patients Create Messaging. Communication is a two way process; what appears crystal clear as it leaves the mouth of the HCP can seem utterly opaque to the listener. Companies should invest in getting patients themselves to develop materials for other patients. Who better to understand where the barriers to behavioural compliance lie?
  3. Diverse Formats for Support. Supporting materials designed to help patients with their treatment regime need to take into account the range of recipients it is targetting. Web support, or phone apps may not work for all patients. Printed materials may also be required, available in a range of translated versions.
  4. Emotional Support Required. A research project carried out by LDA Research Project with cancer patients reveals the need for emotional as well as medical support during and after their treatment. They request the emotional impact of cancer to be acknowledged; in recognition of the patient as more than as set of physical symptoms.

Would you like to know more about the range of pharmaceutical and medical qualitative research carried out by LDA Research? Give us a call – 01525 861436

Feature Interview with LDA Founder, Lucy Doorbar

Feature Interview with LDA Research Founder, Lucy Doorbar

Feature Interview with LDA Founder, Lucy Doorbar

This month we were lucky enough to be able to schedule in an interview with LDA Founder, Lucy Doorbar. It was a great opportunity to find out how she got started in the medical market research sector, what it was like setting up the company whilst being a mum with small children, and why LDA Research is different from other market research companies.

Hi Lucy, thanks so much for taking time out, I know how busy you are. First of all, could you tell me how you came to set up LDA Research?

As is usually the case, out of adverse circumstances came opportunity. I was made redundant from a small market research company, so I moved to London to work for a larger company. I found the hours just weren’t compatible with being a mum – my children were still very small – so I went freelance. That worked better, and I noticed that I was constantly getting queries about medical market research recommendations. I had quite a bit of experience in this area, and had built up a good network. There was obviously a demand – and so LDA Research was born (laughs).

I started out as an outsourcing business working with a number of countries where I had contacts. For the UK and USA I was doing all the recruiting and interviewing in the early days.

What goals did you have for the business when you started out?

I saw a gap in the medical market research market and I thought that we could fill it. So LDA Research was created to provide a network of consultant level interviewers who would carry out qualitative and quantitative medical market research internationally.

All the people working at LDA are seasoned market researchers with real life experience of the topics they’re discussing, either as researchers or practitioners. As the business has grown we’ve been able to take on young researchers who we’ve trained up, but at our core we’re still a team of medical market researchers who are experts in the field.

You’re known for managing market research internationally, what’s your global reach now?

Most English speaking markets – the US, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, South America, Europe and the Asian markets.

Has the kind of work you do changed over the past decade?

Yes, it’s certainly evolved. At the start it was all medical device market research – qualitative telephone interviewing, and that’s remained at staple to this day. But as we got better known the projects got bigger. Now we also cover the pharmaceutical market as a core part of our business too.

We’ve become known as the company to go to for ‘hard to reach’ groups. Right from the start we’ve always worked really hard on recruiting people for research studies. And we can’t resist a challenge! So if someone asks us to do some work on a niche area where you can’t rely on traditional recruitment methods, we’ll be the ones to find the participants.

There’s no magic ingredient to finding ‘hard to reach’ participants. We put in the time, we do lots of secondary research and we use lots of different social networks. We also work hard building and maintaining good relationships with our respondents.

Do you have an example of a successful use of social media for participant recruitment?

Voice of the Patient has been a great resource for us. We set it up as a Facebook group offering networking opportunities and healthcare information. Over the years it’s become a lively community of interests and we’ve been able to recruit quite a few ‘hard to reach’ participants using it.

What’s the work you’re most proud of?

Oh, that’s hard! I suppose it’s the most challenging work that stays with you. We’ve done some bespoke work with cancer charities. When you’re working with cancer patients, you have to be incredibly sensitive when you’re recruiting respondents. We really thought about their needs and requirements, about what we could ask of – for example – a terminally ill patient, and what they could give. I’m proud of that kind of work.

We also support a number of healthcare charities, and I’m proud that we’re able to do that. We’ve always supported Niemann Pick UK; I got involved supporting them when my eldest daughter was a toddler and I saw a news item about a little girl from Milton Keynes, just a bit older than my daughter who has it. The LDA team also choose a different healthcare charity to support each year, we’re involved in that process at the moment, as a matter of fact.

What do you think are the greatest strengths of the company?

(Laughs) Oh, such a difficult question! Alright, we offer a different model in the medical market research sector. Our team provides a lot more actual experience specific to healthcare than is normally the case. Our moderators are hugely experienced; they tackle different therapy areas but they only do healthcare research.

I like the word ‘tenacious’; I think that’s one of our strengths. We don’t give up. We’ll always go the extra mile, put in the research, work all hours, to produce excellent results for clients. It’s part of the culture here that we’re all happy to put in a bit more effort on all our projects – we really care about the work we do.

You’ve successfully started and grown your own company, Lucy. What advice would you offer to other women wanting to do the same?

I started LDA Research when my children were still small. So there were quite a few nights when I’d get them to bed, and then have to put in a few hours work. It’s hard but you’re working towards something, so you find a way. The good thing about having your own business is that you can work around your own availability, so I got to spend much more time with my children growing up than I would have done working for someone else.

If it matters to you, you find a way to make it work.

Thank you so much; it’s been great talking to you.