As in just about every other sphere of our lives, technology has transformed market research, radically altering and improving both the quantity and quality of information researchers can access.
So if you’ve not considered using tech like smart watches, fitness trackers or video cameras in your patient market research before - or you’re looking to expand how you use it - here are five ways it can revolutionise the type and scope of information you can access.
1) Smart Watches
The tech within smart watches - and the apps developed to utilise it - is becoming more advanced with every new release. So if your patients have an Apple Watch, Samsung Gear or Pebble, it can open the door to an unprecedented level of quality data.
Not only do many of them share the ability to monitor explicitly medical data like heart rate with fitness trackers (see our next section) they also give patients the option to record audio, take photos or video recordings, communicate directly with researchers or reveal their GPS location. All of which gives researchers the opportunity to monitor a patient’s activity and feelings remotely and in real time.
2) Fitness trackers
This wearable tech was specifically created to give users direct and instant access to their own medical and fitness-related data - and consequently, it also offers the same opportunity to researchers. So whether you’re monitoring patients’ blood pressure, sleeping patterns or heart rates, it allows you to track related data like their anxiety levels or how strenuous certain activities are for them - and what improvements could be made to help them cope with them more successfully.
3) Video Cameras
Ten years ago, an ethnography project for patient market research would have been impossible without several large, expensive and intrusive cameras positioned within a patient’s home. But with the advances in wearable action cameras like Go Pros or the video camera function within mobile phones, participants themselves can become the researcher - and offer studies just as much information as a traditional ethnography project (if not more) via head or body-mounted units that can send live streams of video or audio for real-time analysis. What’s more, because they’ll be delivering this data in a way that doesn’t interrupt their daily routine, it’s likely to be even more insightful.
4) Market research online community platforms
The advances in social channels like Facebook have also opened the door to private platforms that offer researchers the next best thing to being by a patient’s side during the research project. Platforms like this offer benefits to both researchers and participants; for researchers, it means access to results from patients anywhere in the world - and without any kind of observer influence or bias. What’s more, that information can be real time, allowing researchers to quickly and simply create heat maps, word clouds or to export transcripts. It also allows them to build relationships with patients over time and enjoy greater insights as a result.
For participants, it offers the added benefit of acting as a support system, giving them the chance to speak to people in the same boat or dealing with the same challenges as they are - which can lead to a thriving, engaged community.
The opportunities for feedback and insights are substantial; patients can be asked to blog about their daily life, how their condition affects them (complete with photo or video diaries covering things like how they take their medication, how a given treatment makes them feel or even how they were given the diagnosis) or how they feel their day-to-day lives could be improved. Add it all together and it offers researchers a potentially huge pool of insights and information.
If you are struggling for task ideas for your online community, take a look at our blog 5 task ideas for your next healthcare market research online community.5) Neuroscience
Finally, advances in neuroscience may be less accessible to participants in their day to day lives, but they offer researchers equally huge advantages in the scope and accuracy of data they can obtain. For example, using advances in fields like eye or heart rate tracking or facial coding - using facial expressions to identify emotional responses - can help unlock how people respond to anything from advertising materials and patient information leaflets to products and packaging designs.
What’s more, neuroscience technology also allows us to carry out live brainwave analysis of participants while they’re being interviewed or viewing an advert - meaning we can look beyond any inaccurate or misleading answers patients might give - whether through fear or embarrassment of giving the ‘wrong’ answer or if they’re feeling anxious or under pressure - and dig deeper to get to the facts we need to develop truly insightful research.
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