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Five reasons to use online communities in your healthcare market research

Market research online communities are a qualitative research method that is growing in popularity by the day. It’s easy to see why: they’re a great alternative to more traditional research methods because they can generate quality, in-depth results in a cost-effective way – and because they can be used anytime, anywhere, they can easily fit in around participants’ lives.

Despite all the benefits, the healthcare sector hasn’t quite joined the party just yet, with some still expressing concerns around the success rates of MROCs in healthcare market research. However, we think MROCs are here to stay – so if you’re not yet using them as part of your healthcare market research, it’s time to get involved. Read on for our top five reasons why you need to start using MROCs today;

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They can save you time and money;

.Conduct research via online communities

One of the best things about market research online communities is that they are both cost-effective and timesaving. Although the initial cost of the software might seem pricey, they are actually often cheaper than more traditional methods in the long run when you weigh the costs up against all the potential savings you could make. With online communities, for example, there’s no need to hire a venue, there’s no catering expenses and because respondents can join in anywhere and at anytime, there’s no travel fees either. Added to the fact that researchers won’t have to traipse up and down the country to meet with patients – something that often happens when researching patients with specific criteria or those who are too ill to travel – and you can save a lot of time as well as money. Finally, because participants can take part from their own home, online communities actually take less time to organise – and are likely to benefit from higher response rates, too. A way to save time and money without compromising on quality? When you put it like that it’s a win win for everyone!

; and you can access insights instantly
Why wait days for feedback when you can access insights instantly in real time? Because all of the results gathered from each task or activity is instantly available, another benefit of MROCs is that you can track results, monitor behaviour and identify trends as and when they happen. That means you can make informed decisions, instantly – which is pretty useful for situations when you need to make a call quickly. It gets better, too: online communities also offer a ton of backend tools and analytics, so you can benefit from detailed analysis as well as community management to make your job that little bit easier. With so much information instantly available, it really is the next best thing to being right by your participant’s side – and potentially even better because there’s no observer influence, either.

You can adapt your study as you go;
Another great thing about market research online communities is that you can make changes to your research as you go, allowing you to adapt questions as and when you need to for a more organic research methodology. By having the freedom and flexibility to tailor your questions as necessary you can ensure you are asking the right questions at the right time, which means you can guarantee the best possible insights – something that is very important in healthcare market research when dealing with sensitive subject matters. Not only that, but an added benefit of being able to change things as you go is that you can also adapt and mix things up if you sense people are getting bored. By keeping your content fresh and interesting and making sure there are a variety of tasks on offer, you can encourage your participants to take part and make sure they stay engaged. From blogging and discussion forums to picture books and idea generation, have a look at this blog for different task ideas to keep your participants engaged and improve your research results.

;so you can access more in-depth insights;
Market research online communities enable you to track your participants over longer periods of time so you can gain in-depth insights by monitoring behavioural patterns and identifying trends over the course of weeks or months rather than just a few days. Not only that, but running a community that lasts longer will naturally mean that your respondents connect more too – which will make them feel more comfortable with each other, resulting in more honest conversations and richer insights. A strong rapport is especially important when it comes to healthcare market research because it can help to build patient-to-patient relationships and encourage them to talk honestly, enabling real human insights to come to the surface. The flexibility of online communities is a great help here, too – because they can take part in conversations online or even upload pre-recorded footage, they will  generally be less inhibited and more open to sharing.

;and target specific audiencestarget specific audiences
By its very nature, healthcare market research can include some pretty hard-to-reach patients – including those that are suffering from low-incidence rate diseases, those that are currently undergoing treatment and those that might be too unwell to travel. That’s where the power of online communities truly comes into its own, allowing you to easily engage with these types of patients as well as empowering patients to learn more about the latest developments in their therapy area. And it’s not just patients that MROCs can help target, either – they are also great for reaching out to time-pushed healthcare professionals. HCPs are a vital part of healthcare market research because they can provide unbeatable insights into the work they do and the patients they see, but due to the nature of their jobs they are often too busy to take part in research. Enter MROCs that not only provide a quick and easy way for getting quality responses but also offer bite-sized tasks that keep HCPs engaged and allow them to communicate on the go at a time that suits them – resulting in less-rushed, more accurate insights. Finally, if that wasn’t enough, online communities are also great for reaching out to the young consultants of the future who are used to communicating via social media and therefore feel more confident online.

In conclusion, there’s no getting away from the fact that the world is becoming more and more digital – and that if you want to keep up with the competition, you need to meet your participants’ growing expectations. If you’d like to find out more about how conducting a market research online community could help with your next healthcare market research project why not download our Guide to GKA Mobile.