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.


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.

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.