GKA Blog

When we think of healthcare market research, we tend to think of patients and doctors. We may even think of pharmacists and commissioners if we're taking a broader view. But one group - a silent army of invaluable helpers - is often entirely forgotten, and that is caregivers. They go by a few different names: unpaid caregivers, non-professional caregivers, informal caregivers. These are the family members and friends who take on the task of providing regular assistance to someone who has limited ability to take care of themselves. Most often these caregivers can be adult children caring for their aged parents, one spouse taking care of the other, or one family member caring for another. In some cases, it may even be a close friend or lifelong neighbour offering essential assistance.

What are CCGs? Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were established following the introduction of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, replacing Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) as the organisations responsible for the delivery of a large percentage of healthcare services for the population in their local area. Led by General Practitioners, and supported by a range of other healthcare professionals, CCGs work closely with a range of other public and private bodies, including local authorities and the voluntary sector, to plan, commission and deliver services.

In 1981, when doctors started to notice that an increasing number of gay men were succumbing to opportunistic infections, alarm bells began to ring, yet few could have guessed the terrible impact and global reach of the human immunodeficiency virus. Since then, an estimated 39 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses, including 1.5 million people in 2013.

Picture the scene. You wake in the morning and check your mobile device to see how well you slept. You set your smart watch which starts to monitor your heart rate and put on your smart shirt which senses your breathing. You leave for work, sliding on your smart glasses in the hallway before stepping out into the world fully connected to the internet. It might sound like science fiction yet all these products are being used by consumers right now. Whether sewn into our clothes or worn as accessories, anchored through our smart phones,'wearable technologies' are rapidly turning each of us into a walking, talking data creator.

Opening a window into patients' lives to understand their behaviour is fast becoming a core element of healthcare market research projects undertaken by pharmaceutical companies, patient support groups and many other healthcare companies. However, bringing together patients with low-incidence diseases or those who find it difficult to travel to carry out the research can be challenging.