In this article, we take a deep dive into global expert networks and surveys in the healthcare industry
The healthcare industry is complex and intricate, characterized by numerous diseases little known or discovered, personalized diagnosis and care for each patient and difficult to formulate drugs that take a lot of time to market. In such a scenario, even the best of players and professionals can get lost and need expert knowledge. So what do they do? They turn to global expert networks.
Investopedia defines Global Expert Networks as a group of professionals who are considered to be leading experts in their respective fields. These experts are then available for hire by third parties who need consultation or expertise on specific topics or skill sets that fall outside of their general knowledge base, or as expert witnesses in legal or policy matters.
The process of matching a company with an expert network is pretty straightforward. First, the organization identifies that they are in need of a global expert network. That could be either because they can increase their success rate or because they want to achieve a competitive advantage. Then, they submit a list of requirements to an agency that matches them with the global expert network. These requirements could be things like their job title or number of years of experience. Finally, the agency matches the firm with their preferred global expert network.
According to Wikipedia, a survey is a list of questions designed to extract information from a particular set of people. Surveys are particularly useful when the data is quantitative in nature and can be extracted fairly quickly. There are a few scenarios where surveys can be more useful than a professional call by a global expert network. For example, when administering a survey , respondents often have more time to think about the response than in a one on one phone call. Therefore, surveys are useful when the responses require careful thought. Another instance of when surveys are useful is when you require short, specific responses instead of longer and more detailed ones that you can gather in a phone call.
There are a lot of benefits of using surveys . You can gather answers in a systematic manner making it easier to analyze them. Another advantage is time saving because they are far quicker to administer than a one hour phone call. Additionally, if the pool of respondents is specially large, it becomes easier and quicker to administer surveys rather than hour-long phone calls.
However, expert calls can be useful to judge the tone and even facial expressions of a respondent if it is a video call. Thus, it can add a lot more nuance to a response which you won’t get in a survey. Also, professional calls with a global expert network are a great way to get instant feedback on a topic. Because it’s a phone conversion, it offers room and time to ask follow-up and clarifying questions. In addition to that, expert calls may not work where topics are difficult to talk about or sensitive in nature. For instance, people may find it easier to talk about their mental health in an anonymous survey than one a phone call with somebody. People tend to give the most honest and accurate answers to sensitive questions like these when there isn't another person asking them.
Another thing to consider is survey biases. Sometimes, respondents tend to choose the first answer option to every question due information overload or because they are bored or disinterested. They can also choose to answer questions that resemble some sort of a visual pattern. We call these types of responses Christmas Tees responses. To avoid these types of biases, it might make sense to do a phone call.
According to this study that compares expert interviews vs surveys, global expert networks may be a good option when there’s significant travel involved leading to increased time and costs. Additionally, interviews with experts may also require transcriptions which again may be time consuming. According to the same study “Another challenge was the reduced flexibility in terms of time and place. In case of a survey, the participants were free to choose where and when to answer the questions. Interviews have to be conducted according to the convenience of both the interviewer and the interviewee.
The study also revealed that the use of global expert networks enabled interviewees to ask probing questions and get to know the participants personally.
Consider the following examples:
A health research institution operating in Europe wants to know how much knowledge healthcare professionals have about digital twins being used in healthcare. The aim behind this was to estimate future training costs that they would incur. In this case, it would make sense to expert networks across Europe. You can do this with a half an hour phone interview. You can choose healthcare experts such as experienced nurses, practitioners, paramedics and doctors working in the industry.
Surveys wouldn't work here for a couple of reasons. First, if you decide to survey respondents, there’s a good chance they may not know enough about this topic. Second, if you decide to survey instead of gaining in depth knowledge your client may not be able to correctly estimate their future training costs. This might even lead to client dissatisfaction.
Consider another scenario of a pharmaceutical company who develops a very popular antibacterial ointment. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the cost of a crucial ingredient that goes into this ointment has increased. Now, the company has two options. One, they can increase the price of the ointment possibly leading to reduced sales and customer dissatisfaction. Two, they can keep the price the same but by doing so they would hurt their profit margin. So, they approach a survey panel to gather information on possible alternative ingredients that they can use.
Here, it would make more sense to use surveys. The information is relatively concise and doesn't require much detail or nuance. You can collect data swiftly and use the results to compile a list of alternative ingredients.
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