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Are market research online communities on your to do list?

Market research online communities (MROCs) are bringing healthcare market research into the 21st century, offering an innovative way for researchers to take advantage of the fact that today we are living in a digital world. As we discussed in a previous blog, market research online communities are employing web interfaces and social media tools to learn directly from patients about their experiences.

And just as these communities have proven successful with patients, they also are turning out to be an excellent method for conducting healthcare market research with healthcare professionals (HCPs).

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Learning from the Professionals

Healthcare market researchers have much to discover from healthcare professionals, who offer critical perspectives on the nature of their work, the types of patients they see, and various other aspects of the healthcare industry. But HCPs often have busy, hectic schedules that make it difficult for them to participate in market research. Market research online communities provide an easier method for getting quality responses from these participants than the more traditional focus groups that require them to meet in person at a specific place and time.

For many upcoming young consultants, communicating via social media is the norm and will be the standard for most in the next few years, as is obvious from the widespread increase of mobile usage. MROCs recognize and support this reality by communicating with doctors in a way that fits their daily lives. Since they can participate while they are on the go and at their convenience, it’s likely that their answers will be less rushed and more accurate.

Further, the bite size task method of MROCs can be very helpful for keeping healthcare professionals engaged over longer periods of time. It may help to draw better thoughts and observations since they are not bogged down by lengthy questionnaires or a two-hour roundtrip to a focus group, which itself may eat up two hours of their time.

Not only are MROCs more practical than focus groups for participants from a scheduling perspective, but they are also able to bring a larger and more diverse group of people into an online discussion in a way that many other methods are unable to do so. This presents HCPs with a valuable opportunity to share with and learn from colleagues who they might not otherwise come into contact with, potentially yielding new insights on important healthcare issues.

Considering All the Details

Once you know that you want to conduct a market research online community with healthcare professionals, the question is how best to recruit them. You must choose the right recruitment method for finding the types of participants that you are looking for, that will be willing and engaged in this type of study.  Also consider what incentives you are offering to the participants – remember that these professionals are often overextended as it is, so make certain that the incentive offered reflects the amount of work that will be required from them and the duration of the community.

Ensure participants are screened thoroughly. Will this person likely fit in well with this community? Do they have the right kind of expertise to provide helpful responses and contribute to the discussion? Will they provide insightful feedback?

Make sure you recruit HCPs who will have enough time available to fully participate in the community and who are willing to share their candid thoughts in this environment. It will help if you ensure that everyone is on the same page from the start and provide upfront all the information that the participants will need to know about what is expected of them in the MROC – most importantly, duration, daily contribution, and specific tasks to complete.

You will need to decide what types of tasks you would like the participants to carry out as a part of the community. Blogging and discussion tasks offer participants great ways of supplying informative, thoughtful responses to healthcare market research questions, while polls and surveys provide a faster and easier mode of response. Video diaries can also be an illuminating method for allowing healthcare professionals to share experiences directly and personally.

Are MROCs the Future of healthcare market research?

Market research online communities provide researchers with a practical way of tapping into the vast knowledge held by HCPs, while making the process attractive and easy for the professionals themselves.

From maintaining patient records to writing prescriptions, so much of what HCPs do in the course of their work is increasingly happening online – it’s only natural that this will extend to their participation in healthcare market research. As long as those managing the healthcare market research are deliberate and discerning in the recruitment process, they will find that there is much to be learned by conducting online communities with healthcare professionals.

If market research online communities are on your to do list, get in touch to find out more information on the full functions and benefits of taking your qualitative healthcare fieldwork mobile.