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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

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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

medical device market research

Medical Device Market Research

LDA Research was set up in 2011, in Bedfordshire, and for the past 7 years the core team has been pursuing their passion globally. We’re lucky enough to spend our time providing specialist qualitative research for the rapidly growing medical device sector. Every member of the team is committed to providing high quality, bespoke market research solutions for management consultants, design agencies, advertising companies, medical clients and health market research agencies.

Why Use Qualitative Research?

Qualitative medical device marketing research depends upon person-to-person interaction as a means of garnering opinions, motivations, ideas and themes active in the target group for any new medical device. It’s a highly effective methodology for understanding customer satisfaction, sector pricing intelligence, market attractiveness, innovation assessment and perceived use value.

We pride ourselves on the responsive nature of our research methodology, and on our ability – as a team – to tailor our research to the business needs of our clients. That may mean accessing hard-to-reach patients, incorporating tech in innovative ways or moving beyond our database to reach out to participants in regions, or countries that we haven’t worked with before. As a research team we love a challenge, and we keep going until we get what our clients need!

Quantitative Medical Device Market Research for Development

Clients often ask us to find out for them where the greatest unmet needs are in a particular area. This may feed into an R&D process, or it may be at the stage of fine tuning of a device which has already been developed. Dependent on the research aims, we would normally seek to conduct phone, web conferencing, or face-to-face interviews with healthcare professionals, and thought leaders operating within the appropriate professional environment.

Qualitative Research for Usability Testing

Regulation (EU) 2017/745 has raised the European bar for the usability testing of medical devices. We are, therefore, seeing a heightened demand from our clients for device simulations. Being able to see how patients interact with a new product or device provides valuable information to developers and marketers. The ensuing report will often lead to an understanding of training requirements, or refinements needed in the way the device is packaged or presented for use.

Qualitative Patient Focused Research

We have a great track record for pulling together patient focus groups either as online forums, or – if the geographical dispersion is local, or national – as part of a workshop. This methodology is particularly useful where a training need has been identified and the training programme has been designed. Patients will often point out crucial issues that have been overlooked by developers, or use their first hand experience to provide solutions to challenges that have been bugging the development team.

Post Launch Qualitative Research

We can help with the entire product lifecycle, providing accurate, authentic medical market research. Once a device is launched, we are often asked to carry out ‘follow-on’ research with patients using it. We’re always particularly interested in the data provided by people who have ceased to use the product, or those who are aware of the product but have not yet decided to adopt it.

Skilled Moderators are Key to Effective Medical Device Market Research

The skill of the researcher is always paramount to achieving effective result in ethnographic qualitative research. We take care to recruit moderators and interviewers who have a background in either medical research or specialist healthcare. This professional expertise allows them to ask detailed – and at times – probing questions of clients. Granular responses help developers understand to what degree their product is supporting the patient and fulfilling the needs of the market.