Pushing Proactivity in Research

By David Sutterby

Critics might suggest that market research practices are too reactive and don’t meet today’s need for instant, insight-driven decision making. However, they would be wise to think again. Those using the capabilities of real-time data collection and alerting are proving otherwise and driving a culture of proactivity across the research landscape.

One such example is the monthly National Health Service satisfaction survey that we’ve undertaken on behalf of Picker, an international charity working across social and healthcare.

Blending Proven Methods with Real-time Technology

On the face of it, such a study appears to fit within the traditional ‘mould’ of research, taking place on a monthly rolling basis, and surveying 10,000 patients to gather feedback about the care received across several services. What’s more, the programme’s rigorous requirements for safeguarding patient data and care might appear to limit any opportunity for proactive research that could prompt real-time action.

However, by combining our own methodological approaches with specific, advanced technology solutions for real-time data collection and alerting, we’ve could create a bespoke programme that retains the principles of traditional data collection principles but provides action-driven outcomes.

We used the Confirmit Horizons platform to automate as much of the data collection process as possible, providing maximum support for the interviewing team, but also took advantage of its capabilities to develop complex question programming rules. This allowed us to collect free text responses and analyse them ‘in the moment’ against a qualifiable list of trigger words and phrases such as pain, fear, bleeding and bullying.

Triggering ‘Red Alert’

If mentioned, these words and phrases would trigger an immediate email alert which would send a pre-written email to a QRS Director, as well as to a direct contact at Picker who had the ability to take immediate action depending on the circumstance.

The interviewer would also be able to trigger the same alerts manually should they encounter any feedback that their training taught them requires further attention, to safeguard patients. This ‘Red Alert’ is dispatched before the interview has ended, ensuring that the healthcare provider is instantly notified of any issues and fully updated in real time.

In the 12 months following deployment of the customer satisfaction survey, around 150 ‘Red Alert’emails have been raised in real time, allowing issues to be dealt with proactively and instantaneously. This is a direct result of innovative programming techniques and bespoke interviewer training – the success of which can be measured directly across 10,000 successfully completed patient satisfaction interviews.

Most importantly, however, the ability to provide instant feedback on every potentially serious concern to the healthcare provider has enabled us to showcase the levels of trust, accuracy and timeliness in the data collection process that are becoming essential to more and more research projects – not just those dealing with sensitive subjects.

We’re all aware that a project of this scale and sensitivity requires a proven approach and consistent, high-level interviewing. At the same time, to bring this type of project up to the standards of today’s demands for immediacy, we needed to follow the strategic thinking of businesses that are increasingly relying on instant insight to inform their most important decisions.

For us, the ‘Red Alert’ system was a highly strategic move, giving the client the instant reassurance that any serious concerns or areas of bad practice could be addressed as soon as they were raised by the patient. As well as demonstrating the effectiveness of real-time feedback, this also gave a new level of support to care providers who could act quickly to feedback, rather than having to wait for information to filter through – sometimes months after an event.

While perhaps a drop in the ocean for some, to us this programme reinforces the opportunities that exist for Market Researchers to combine traditional, rigorous research with new technologies and methodologies. And, rather than compromising the foundations of research and data protection, we can in fact deliver faster, more accurate results that allow our customers to take immediate, insight-driven action.

By David Sutterby, Director, QRS Market Research