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How to manage market research out of hours


When conducting healthcare market research, it’s not uncommon to need to carry out research out of hours, especially when engaging with healthcare professionals with antisocial working hours or even just fitting in around patients’ busy lives. Whether you’re conducting an in-depth interview or a market research online community, a focus group or an ethnographic study, all out of hours market research requires careful organisation to ensure that your study goes off without a hitch. From scheduling to software testing, here are a few of our tried and tested tips to make sure your healthcare research runs as smoothly as possible.

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1. Ensure everyone has access to contact details

When conducting healthcare market research, you might have to schedule your research around HCP’s shifts – and their schedule may even change at short notice. Because of this, it’s a good idea to ensure that your participants have the moderator’s contact details (and vice versa!) so they can easily reach them at all times. Likewise, if the moderator is struggling to get hold of the respondent at all, they will easily be able to get back to them. You should always share a backup number too: for example, if you give your respondents the moderator’s mobile number, make sure they have a landline too in case of any reception issues. In addition, depending on when the research is taking place, you’ll also need to ensure that the moderator has the most relevant contact details for the respondent. If they’re travelling, for example, make sure they’ve got a mobile number, or if they’re at work and can’t take calls, ensure they’ve got an email address instead.

healthcare research

2. Make sure you schedule appointments

Another important organisational tip that we’ve picked up over the years is to always ensure that you schedule an appointment in your moderator’s diary. This way, they will know when and where the interview or focus groups is happening, which leaves no room for confusion – especially if sessions are being scheduled out of hours around HCPs’ complicated shift patterns. It might sound a bit obvious but trust us: it’s a small step that can make a big difference. By making sure there’s absolutely no confusion about dates, times and locations, your moderators can plan their day accordingly. You can even include a note of any important information in the appointment reminder if there’s anything you need to flag with them before the session starts, something that is especially important for out-of-hours studies when you might not be around to advise.

3. Don’t forget to share all relevant information

Sharing all relevant documents with your moderator will help to ensure that they fully understand every aspect of the research. From the goals of the research and how the results will be used to what you want to achieve, by sharing as much information as possible with your moderator you can make sure everyone is on the same page, that the research runs smoothly on the day and that there are no panicked phone-calls out of hours. Likewise, make sure you keep your participants up to date too: from changes to the schedule to alterations in the research, the quicker you notify them about what’s going on, the more prepared they will be. Finally, if your research is taking place in a central location, make sure you provide a map and information about any useful landmarks that might help them to easily locate the venue and ensure they know whom to ask for or where to go if the reception will be unmanned. Basically, by making sure everyone is as prepared as possible, there will be less confusion when your out-of-hours study kicks off.

healthcare research

4. Always, always test your software!

If your market research relies on technology, we can’t stress enough how important it is to thoroughly test your software beforehand – especially if your study is taking place out of hours! By testing your software beforehand, you can iron out any problems or glitches and smooth out any technical difficulties so that you can be sure things go well on the day. In addition, make sure your respondents and moderators are set up with the correct login details beforehand and that they know how to access and use the software. It’s really important that they get to know the software so they are confident on how to use it on the day, so distributing instructions or a user guide is a good idea and a great way to avoid any potential problems – especially in out-of-hours studies where IT support might not be available.

When it comes to healthcare research, the success of your project ultimately depends on everything running smoothly on the day – especially if your research is taking place out of hours! Don’t worry, though – as long as you are organised, you shouldn’t have any hiccups. With over 25 years’ of experience working in the medical fieldwork industry and with a wealth of knowledge on how to conduct research projects, if you need help with your out-of-hours research, you’ve come to the right place. To find out more about GKA and how we can help with your next project, download our summary here.