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Reversing the direction of care within the health sector

To successfully reverse the direction of care, you need to first understand how patients are accessing services. Are you doing enough?

It is well known that the NHS is feeling the strain and is under pressure to prioritise and allocate care to patients when they need it the most. With reports over the Christmas period of trusts at over 99% capacity,[1] it is vital that NHS organisations understand how patients are using services, and more importantly still, recognise when the direction of care needs to be reversed.

As an example, patients often see primary care within the NHS as the first port of call and it is often the first point of contact for patients. Approximately 90% of patient interaction is with primary care and for this reason it’s commonly referred to as the ‘Front Door’ to the NHS. Now imagine if those patients first took the steps to visit their pharmacist, self care at home, or – right at the start of the cycle – have a healthier lifestyle.

reversing direction of care

Reversing the direction of care will mean that care is available at a time when patients need to access it the most. Gaining insights into patient behaviour as to how they are accessing services will drive efficiencies and ensure the best return on investment for your organisation without compromising service.

What can you do?

 Using our experience in delivering complex research projects for the NHS, in this blog we are sharing our tried and tested approach to deliver actionable insights to shape necessary changes in reversing the direction of care.

  1. Review current service access – Do you know if the public are over using a particular service due to insufficient access to other services? Are there any trends to highlight how services are being accessed? Do you even know what the public want from primary care – seven day GP appointments, extended hours surgeries, telephone appointments? The first step in shaping services is to consult and ask the public what their needs are.
  2. Education – In our experience there is confusion on what services should be accessed when, from where, and by whom. It’s essential to see the service structure through patients’ eyes and understand how to communicate and educate on current services. Understanding the problem before looking at the solution will lead to sustained results.
  3. Develop social marketing – Developing and co-creating social marketing campaigns with the public will lead to and encourage positive behavioural change. Areas of focus should be self care, healthy living and creating educational campaign materials to outline steps to be taken when accessing services.
  4. Consult with staff – Ask those that know. Tap into the expertise of your primary care staff at grass roots level and deep dive to understand their experiences and solutions to support you to achieve your vision.

Why Explain Market Research; and how we will deliver actionable insights.  

The decision to meaningfully uncover actionable insights into how patients are accessing care will be one of the most valuable consultation activities you will undertake. For that reason, you should use an independent expert.

Having worked with the health sector nationally for over a decade on a range of research projects, Explain Market Research has developed a unique and relevant skill set aligned to research and engagement within both the NHS and private health sector; we are providing insights which are underpinning changes to models of care nationally.

Examples of our work include:

Follow the links above to read our case studies in full.

Why Explain:

  1. Independent: You can be confident that our advice will be impartial, open and focused and will deliver a return on investment
  2. Bespoke solutions: Offering a range of research methodologies from the traditional to the innovative, always focussing on the best approach to deliver actionable insights for your organisation
  3. Experts in consultation: With a longstanding track record of delivering pre-consultation and consultation research into changes of care within the NHS, we are sector experts
  4. Research that unlocks insight: Delivering a range of research solutions including: public consultation, stakeholder research, brand awareness and perceptions, customer and employee research.

 Contact us today to find out how we could support you and get in touch with our team to understand more about the solutions we provide.




[1] http://www.acutemedicine.org.uk/news/leading-doctor-fears-for-hospitals-as-new-year-dawns/

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Engaging with the vulnerable and hard to reach

Vulnerable customer and ‘hard to reach’ research is a requirement that more and more insight and market research managers are having to address as part of their roles. Not only are regulators keen for organisations to demonstrate that they are inclusive, but there is huge value in businesses being more effective in their engagement with those who are in debt or utilising services inefficiently.

Vulnerable customers are often identified as those with long or short term illness, those living with disabilities or in poverty, and also customers who are elderly.

Hard to reach groups will differ depending on the organisation and the products and services which are offered, but can include:

  1. Non-English speakers
  2. Those who are in severe debt
  3. Those who have suffered a mental illness or struggle socially
  4. Individuals who have a drug or alcohol addiction
  5. Younger people who are not in education or employment
  6. Elderly who live alone and don’t have family or friends

There are many reasons why it is important for organisations to be able to reach out to audiences that can be more difficult to engage with. This can be from a socially responsible point of view, or to reduce inefficiencies. However, as the term suggests – ‘hard to reach’ is exactly that, so having the right approach is vital.

So how can an organisation grow relationships with those where there are perhaps more barriers in place that will allow them to do this?

As organisations are placing more importance on engaging with these audiences we have become experts in delivering research programmes that provide great insight into these key groups.

As every organisation is different and each of these groups are so very diverse, a one size fits all approach will not work in research. Careful thought and consideration as to how these groups can be engaged with is crucial. Below are just three important factors which need to be deliberated when putting in place research and engagement with hard to reach and vulnerable groups:

  1. Language

For example, there is little point in using technical jargon or business speak when engaging with a group of 16 year olds. This may seem obvious, however it is surprising how difficult it is to get a specific point across without making use of industry specific terms. This is very common in the healthcare sector for instance. We recently carried out research which found that although the terms ‘Primary Care’ and ‘Secondary Care’ are commonly used terms across the NHS, only 26% of the sample we spoke to actually understood the term  ‘Primary Care’.  And this isn’t just the hard to reach groups either, this is the general public.

  1. Tone

Tone is different to language, as it goes beyond the actual words used in any communications, whether a discussion guide, questionnaire, online survey or promotional material used to engage for the research. Tone should be adopted for the audience – a formal approach will not encourage those who are young to participate in any research, as this can be intimidating. Having a moderator in place who is able to adapt to the audience is vital. For questionnaires, more visuals can be used. There are lots of creative ways in which you can communicate with your respondents, to make them feel at ease and more willing to open up and participate.

  1. Methodology and Selection

Usually a methodology is largely selected on the type of insight that is required, however carrying out telephone interviews or on-street surveys as you require a quantitative analysis will gain little return with a disengaged group, while trying to recruit on-street to get people who have issues socially to come along to a focus group at a public space such as a hotel will not be successful either.  Methods such attending pre-arranged groups or community sessions are an extremely useful way to engage with the hard to reach. Not only are you going to them, they are also in their own environment so will feel naturally more comfortable and more willing to participate. Offering experiences is also a fantastic way to encourage some hard to reach groups to participate in research. Activity days that will provide them with some value and an enjoyable experience will not only encourage them as respondents to attend, but also will make individuals feel more at ease and start to participate more with a skilled moderator. Online communities which already have a specific audience type are a great way to engage with those certain groups. There are online communities available which specialise in certain profile types; for example, an online community made up of people who have a disability, or who care for those who do, is an excellent way to carry out a range of qualitative or quantitative research.

Our team at Explain Market Research are experts at putting in place research programmes with vulnerable customers and those who are hard to reach.

Contact us today to find out more.



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‘Trust and Confidence’ what is your score?

‘Trust and Confidence’ is a key indicator of how a range of stakeholders such as customers, potential customers, patients or members of the public view an organisation.

Over the last few years, the term ‘Trust and Confidence’ is becoming more commonly used as a key performance indicator to how well businesses are engaging with their audience across their ‘journey’ with them.3-trust-confidence

The more proactive of organisations within the utility (water, gas and electric), finance and NHS see that measuring the ‘Trust and Confidence’ of their stakeholders, is a more effective and accurate way to allow them to be more responsive to their needs and requirements – impacting positively on loyalty and satisfaction.

With competition opening up in the water industry and NHS organisations working harder to attract patients, Trust and Confidence is vital for these sectors that aren’t perhaps traditionally as ‘competitively’ driven as sectors such as retail. However with economic landscapes changing, whether you are public or private sector, understanding how you rate in ‘Trust and Confidence’ within your sector will of course provide a competitive advantage.

As experts working within regulated environments we have developed a ‘Trust and Confidence’ Evaluation Tool.

There are a number of factors that influence an individual’s ‘Trust and Confidence’ within an organisation, and we have carried out our own research to identify what these are. We then surveyed members of the public across the UK and asked them to rate their water, gas and electric, NHS and mortgage providers utilising these factors. This has resulted in Explain owning benchmark data for organisations within these sectors to compare themselves against.

This powerful insight allows organisations to track and measure against their sectors performance, identifying areas where improvements can be made.

Find out more about ‘Trust and Confidence’ by contacting Explain Market Research today.

trust and confidence fact sheet