For those of us who market to physicians, the reality is that they are not an easy audience to reach. That also applies to clinicians as subjects of market research. It can be extremely challenging to try to tap into their insights through traditional research methodologies.
But there’s hope! One of the research methodologies we like to use when trying to access the opinions of physicians is the asynchronous bulletin board-style focus group. A bulletin board focus group (BBFG) is an asynchronous, threaded discussion typically involving dozens of participants per group over extended periods of time. What I love about this type of research is it allows you to give physicians a window of time (perhaps two days) where they can log in to the system and record their responses – any time of day or night. They can access the system from a laptop, tablet or other mobile device. Whatever works best for them. Then you can review their responses, post follow-up questions, and have them return for another 20 or 30-minute session later in the week. Again, this will be at their convenience. In my experience, this is a great way to make it easier for physicians to participate in market research.
As you might expect, the bulletin board is growing in use because it offers flexible and unique ways to gather information that would be difficult to collect using traditional research methods. The convenience of being able to log in at any time makes them ideal for busy individuals (doctors) or studies across multiple time zones.
Here’s some more detail about how the focus groups work: The participants log in to the platform at a specific URL with a user name and a password to answer questions that are posted and monitored by a moderator, who can also prompt respondents to expand on their responses or provide clarification. Any stimuli that can be presented on the internet or through media (ads, photos, narrative, web pages, PowerPoint presentations, images, audio and video files) can be presented through asynchronous focus groups. Responses can be required prior to seeing others’ responses to reduce bias. I like this aspect and feel it is a definite improvement over traditional focus groups, where participants tend to bias each other with their responses. With the asynchronous groups, we capture the response of the respondent before he or she sees how others in the group responded.
We’ve found that this methodology is ideal for conducting benefit testing and message testing with clinicians. There are tools within the platform that you can use to have the respondents rank attributes in order of importance. You can also have them use a highlighting tool to note portions of messages that they find to be most compelling and least compelling, or confusing. The software will automatically convert the responses into easy-to-read graphs and charts – even word clouds. This helps a great deal with reporting.
I strongly recommend giving asynchronous bulletin board-style focus groups a try! If you’d like more information, I will gladly point you in the right direction. By the way, this style of focus group would also work well with patients and general consumers.