In some ways, feasibility studies are like football-you can go wide or deep with the research, but you often cannot do both at the same time. We often find that many clients will have a couple of concepts they would like to test, but also want to know “what else” they can offer. As a market researcher, this can be a difficult situation to navigate. While concept testing is a routine component of a feasibility study, it is inherently different from determining untapped areas of opportunity for a client. Getting the client to understand the differences between the two types of work can be challenging, but we have a couple of tips to facilitate the conversation.


  1. When it’s best to go “wide”

This approach is best when the client is just starting to dip their feet in the water, and would like to gain information on many different topics. Consider this example:  a higher education client is contemplating the ability to add to their graduate program offerings, but does not have particular program concepts in place and is not sure what the best options would be for their university. In this scenario, we would suggest secondary research of local higher education graduate offerings (competitive analysis) to determine potential gaps in the market. This involves more in-depth research than a typical competitive analysis, where programs and potential competitors are already known. Through compilation of local competition, you can determine what programs will face steep competition due to a large market share, and which programs may be practical options. Since this phase of the research is exploratory, it is important for the client to conduct follow-up research with a narrowed focus to determine the true market feasibility of particular offerings. This can be achieved through an analysis of occupational supply and demand (to determine labor market needs), as well as a student demand survey of potential students to gauge interest.

  1. When it’s best to go “deep”

This approach is appropriate for clients who have one or more concepts that they would like to test in the market, with the purpose of gaining insight into the viability of those concepts. Consider the previous example of the higher education client. They have completed the first phase of secondary research and have found that competition is minimal for Masters’ programs in Statistics. Now they need to determine if there is a need for masters-level trained statisticians in the work force, and whether there is interest among potential students to fulfill enrollment needs. For this phase of the research, we would gather data on regional and national market demand for statisticians who hold a master’s degree using available labor supply and demand databases. If the current and projected market is anticipated to be strong, meaning the number of anticipated regional job openings is large enough to accommodate program graduates, we would then implement a focused student demand survey. The survey would incorporate the current program concept for the Masters program in Statistics to measure interest levels in program components (such as credit hour requirements, tuition rates, proposed schedule-day/evening classes, etc.) as well as branding reactions to determine awareness and perception of the institution.

If you’re interested in conducting a program feasibility study, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

Here at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS), we manage our own research panel called ViewPoint. ViewPoint is comprised of members who are willing to participate in various types of research such as focus groups, surveys, in-depth interviews, and mystery shopping. Typically, members of research panels, like ViewPoint, are rewarded for their participation which makes it important for RMS to ensure ViewPoint members are truthful, highly-engaged, and sincere.

Man holding a magnifying glass over his eye

Here are 5 quality assurance tips for research panels:

  1. Welcome new members

As the RMS ViewPoint Panel Coordinator, I place welcome calls and send emails to all new members on a regular basis. This is a great way to initiate two-way communication between RMS and our panel members.  This is also a simple way to ensure that the people who are joining ViewPoint understand what a research panel is, and know where to find resources for more information. Most importantly the welcome calls and emails set a friendly standard for ViewPoint members by letting them know they have a real person they can contact with any future questions or inquiries.

  1. Check for duplicate members

The demographics of ViewPoint are extremely important to RMS. This makes it imperative that the panel does not have duplicate members which could skew data. RMS regularly combs through member data to check for duplicate email addresses, names, and phone numbers to ensure each individual record is unique.

  1. Use filter questions

When taking a survey, it is important to pay close attention to what the question is asking. A red herring or quality control question is an easy way for market research professionals to check that respondents are paying attention and not simply speeding through the survey. These types of questions can be added anywhere in a survey, but are preferable in the middle after the respondent is fully engaged in the survey. An example of a simple quality control question in an online survey is, “Please answer this question by choosing response #3″ or, “Please select strongly agree in the chart to the right.” Surveys with responses to this question other than those indicated can be removed from analysis. More importantly these panel members can be flagged and their case data will be reviewed closely in the future. Ultimately, if the respondent continues to fail quality control tests, he or she will be removed from ViewPoint.

  1. Check for straightliners

Market research professionals should also check for participants who respond to every question with the same answer. For example, if a survey prompts respondents to rate different aspects of their satisfaction on a 5-point scale, with “1” being strongly dissatisfied and “5” being strongly satisfied, extra attention should be paid to those who answer the same number for every question. If this occurs, analysts should review responses to other questions to see if they vary, review the time to complete the survey, etc. Although answering “4” on all of the grid questions could be a valid sequence it does raise a red flag that needs to be investigated. After flagging this member, their responses should be reviewed in future surveys.

  1. Check for speeders

Similar to straightliners, response times should be reviewed for each survey completed to ensure it is feasible.  For example, a respondent should be flagged if a 10 minute survey only takes two minutes to complete. Analysts should review response times for this member in future surveys.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


Conducting a Higher Education Program Feasibility Study: 5 Things To Consider

As budgets become increasingly strained with every passing year, higher education institutions are turning to market research firms to investigate the viability of their current and potential academic programs. Many institutions require feasibility research as part of the program approval process, and for good reason. At RMS, we routinely conduct these studies, and have learned that there are several factors to consider when implementing program feasibility research.

  • First and foremost, NOT conducting program feasibility research is often more expensive than the market research investment. We’ve seen it many times-an internal stakeholder with a vested interest wants to create a new program, but feels that research is not necessary or has the perception that market research will be too costly. The danger in this approach is that the college will be offering a program that may not fit into current and projected labor market needs. This sets the graduates up for disappointment (and lack of return on their investment) when they try to enter a stagnant or saturated workforce. This approach also means that substantial financial resources will be attributed to the creation of a new academic program without the back up support that market research can provide, in turn jeopardizing the credibility of the college and its offerings. It is for these reasons that many colleges and universities are turning to market research firms as part of their initial scoping activities for new programs. There are a few approaches we recommend to clients undertaking this research.
  • First, conduct a competitive analysis of your local competition. What other colleges and universities are offering similar programs at the same level (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, Certificate, etc)? Figure out the content these competitors are offering, their class schedule, number of credit hours in the program, tuition cost, and other factors that are going to matter to prospective students. An informed market research firm will have the tools necessary to investigate your competition and gain the competitive insight necessary to determine if another college or university already holds a substantial portion of the market share (which would tell you that competition will be steep for that program).
  • Next, investigate the labor market demand through occupational supply and demand research. The market research firm will determine the current and projected demand of professions that graduates of the potential program would qualify for, ensuring that the market is not inundated and there will be job opportunities available for graduates. This data will bolster the credibility of the program with internal stakeholders, as well as provide valuable marketing material for prospective students.
  • After the first wave of secondary research is completed, we recommend surveying the prospective student population to gauge interest in the potential program. It is also valuable to know the needs of the potential student population with regard to class schedule, pricing sensitivity, etc. For example, if you’re hoping to offer an MBA program, there’s a good chance that night and weekend options will be desirable for some prospective students (many of them may have a full time job during business hours, have family obligations, etc), but that is dependent on other lifestyle and geographical factors that need to be considered when determining the best audience for the program. By knowing the needs of the prospective population during the setup phase of program creation, the college is in a stronger position to garner internal administrative support and external interest.
  • Upon the completion of all research activities, ask the market research firm to compile their findings in a format that will be conducive to your internal stakeholders. Do you need a lengthy report with in-depth explanations? Or would a PowerPoint deck be more valuable, allowing you to use the information in a presentation? Determine the audience for whom the material will be presented, and shape the reporting around their preferences.
  • The last piece of advice is not related to research, but rather to nurture relationships with internal administrative staff. Being cognizant of other stakeholders’ agendas is often THE most important factor to preventing roadblocks in the approval process after research has been presented. The research will speak for itself, but understanding the approval process and what is important to all involved is the driving factor for a smooth academic approval.

If you’re interested in conducting a program feasibility study, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

Previously, I discussed what I’ve learned from my time with RMS thus far as the ViewPoint Panel Coordinator. However, I did not discuss how much I’ve learned about research panels. In college, research panels are not discussed in detail, but through my time at RMS, I’ve learned that panels are an integral part of the market research industry. Why are market research panels here to stay? Click here. As the ViewPoint Panel Coordinator, I work directly with our panel every day. Some of my daily tasks include maintaining the ViewPoint member database, growing ViewPoint membership, and to promote two-way communication. Overall, this experience helped me learn the full potential and benefits of using a research panel in market research.

My role as the RMS ViewPoint Panel Coordinator is to make friends with strangers on a daily basis. Then invite them to join the RMS panel.

My role as the RMS ViewPoint Panel Coordinator is to make friends with strangers on a daily basis. Then invite them to join the RMS panel!

Here are 4 things I’ve learned about research panels:

  1. Panels save time

Research panels are created to provide easy access to willing research participants. Research panels, by nature, build convenience samples. A convenience sample is a sampling technique that reaches participants based on their openness to participating. A research project using a panel takes a fraction of the time it would take to complete the same project using alternative sample recruitment methods. For example, a company may believe posting an online survey to Facebook may generate a ton of survey completes, but there is no guarantee that these individuals want to participate. By creating a panel, market researchers can guarantee that individuals will participate.

  1. Panels save money

By using panels and saving it time, it also saves our clients money. It is as simple as that! RMS can get responses from consumers faster and less expensively. After the data is collected RMS provides clients with analysis and further insight to help you make better decisions. Check out our Analytics team to learn more about how RMS provides clients with relevant data for actionable decisions.

  1. Research panels can mimic specific demographics

RMS closely monitors the demographics of our ViewPoint research panel in order to mimic local and national demographics. RMS is headquartered near Syracuse NY, a city with residents that mirror the demographics of the United States. The majority of ViewPoint members live near this area, which makes ViewPoint a great option for a test market. Therefore, businesses can gain consumer feedback that is comparable to the national population. ViewPoint can also be used to target a specific audience. As a result, RMS can help business decision makers whether they are looking for feedback from general or niche consumers.

  1. Watch out for professional survey takers

Larger is better when developing a panel, but it’s important that RMS expands ViewPoint to the right people. RMS values providing clients with the insight needed to make business decisions, and that insight is dependent on participants’ responses. To ensure that each ViewPoint member is sincere, I welcome them through personal emails and phone calls. This also confirms that members understand ViewPoint and the values of RMS. RMS also uses filter questions in surveys and checks for straight-liners once surveys are complete to weed out professional survey takers. Our quality assurance checks ensure our clients that we are reaching the audience they intended to reach.

If you are interested in joining the RMS ViewPoint research panel please click here. ViewPoint members get paid for participating in focus groups, surveys, mystery shopping, and interviews. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about RMS contact our Director of Business Development Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

The CAHPS® Hospice survey team recently conditionally approved a number of vendors to administer the CAHPS® Hospice survey. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) was recently named one of those vendors that will attend a mandatory training webinar session on October 7, 2014. All participating vendors must achieve a passing score on a training quiz administered upon the conclusion of the webinar.

CAHPS Hospice Survey Vendor

The CAHPS® Hospice website provides a wealth of information for vendors and Hospice organizations that are looking for more information about this upcoming survey. Of particular interest is the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page which details answers to some of the most common questions regarding CAHPS® Hospice via the website.

  • What is the CAHPS® Hospice survey about? Much like other CAHPS surveys used for CMS pay-for-reporting, this initiative is an experience of care survey. The survey considers the primary informal caregiver of the hospice patient as the respondent. Therefore, the survey will be sent to this audience after two months following the death of the hospice patient.
  • What are the topics in the survey? There are 47 questions on the survey with an option of up to 15 hospice-specific supplemental questions. The main questions will cover the following areas:
    • Team communication
    • Timely care
    • Treating family member with respect
    • Providing emotion support
    • Support for religious and spiritual beliefs
    • Getting help for symptoms
    • Information continuity
    • Understanding side effects of pain medication
  • Who must participate? Based on the CAHPS® Hospice website, all Medicare-certified hospices must participate in the program to receive their full APU (Annual Payment Update). There are two exemptions: (1) hospices with less than 50 deceased patients from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 and (2) those who did not receive their CCN (CMS Certification Number) before January 1, 2015.
  • When will the survey be administered? All three modes will be used for surveying including mail, telephone, and mixed modes. The dry run of the survey (running for at least one month for hospices) will occur during either January, February, or March 2015. Beginning April 2015, hospices will be required to participate in CAHPS Hospice on an ongoing monthly basis through December 2015.
  • What is the dry run period? Hospices are required to participate in this dry run for one of the three months in early 2015. All parties will complete the implementation procedures including submission of data. The intent of the dry run is for all parties to conduct a “trial run” of the data collection procedures under test circumstances before the full launch in April.
CAHPS Hospice Dry Run

Table via CAHPS® Hospice website  (Click to enlarge)

  • How many caregivers will be sampled? Remember, those with fewer than 50 deaths in the prior calendar year are exempt. Those hospices with 50 to 699 decedents in the prior year are required to survey all caregivers, whereas those with 700 or more decedents will sample 700 caregivers.

Research & Marketing Strategies is an approved CAHPS Hospice survey vendor (conditionally as of August 29, 2014). One the training session is complete on October 7, RMS Healthcare expects to be officially approved along with other vendors. If you are interested in hiring a CAHPS Hospice survey vendor or if you have any questions about the process, contact MarcB@RMSresults.com or call 1-866-567-5422.

If you are looking to choose a CAHPS® for ACOs survey vendor, your healthcare organization has until September 22nd, 2014 to do so. Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services granted full approval to 16 CAHPS for ACOs survey vendors across the country in which Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is named. If you have any questions about the CAHPS® for ACOs process, selection of vendors, and how this new initiative impacts your accountable care organization, please contact our Business Development Associate, Marc Bovenzi at MarcB@RMSresults.com.

ACO CAHPS survey vendor

The goal of an ACO and coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors (Via CMS.gov)

What are the important dates for CAHPS® for ACOs?

  • August 25, 2014 – CMS granted full approval to RMS and 15 other vendors for the CAHPS® for ACOs survey
  • September 22, 2014 – Deadline for ACOs to register with an approved CAHPS® for ACOs survey vendor
  • November 13 through February 2, 2015 – Survey administration period
  • 2016 – Official results reported by CMS to ACOs

What does the CAHPS® for ACOs process look like?

  • CMS selects a random sample of 860 patients
  • The survey is 81 questions in length
  • 12 patient experience of care measures
  • Mixed-mode only (mail and phone)
  • Pre-notification letter will be sent
  • Two survey mailings
  • Up to 6 follow-up calls to complete survey

What are the topics of the CAHPS® for ACOs surveys?

  • Getting timely care
  • Provider communication
  • Rating of provider
  • Access to specialists
  • Health promotion and education
  • Shared decision-making
  • Health status and functional status
  • Courteous and helpful office staff
  • Care coordination
  • Between visit communication
  • Education of medication adherence
  • Stewardship of patient resources

What other complimentary healthcare services does RMS offer for ACOs?

  • Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition (PCMH)
  • Pay for Performance (P4P) Program Optimization
  • Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)
  • HIPAA Compliance Training
  • Practice Assessment and Management
  • Patient Satisfaction Surveys (CAHPS®)

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a healthcare market research firm and approved CAHPS® survey vendor. Our corporate offices are located in Syracuse, NY but our healthcare clients span as far as Guam. For more information about RMS Healthcare visit our website by clicking here. For more information about CAHPS® on this blog, click here.

As I approached the summer before my senior year at Oswego State, I received an opportunity to intern at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). At Oswego State I am working towards a degree in public relations with a minor in business administration. As the ViewPoint panel coordinator at RMS, I am able to blend my passions for public relations and marketing.

Common reactions to starting a career in market research.

Common reactions to starting a career in market research.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about a career in market research in 3 short months:

  • (1) The importance of networking – Market research is a powerful industry because it provides businesses with the intelligence needed to adapt to the ever-changing consumer. However, some professionals are weary to conduct market research due to cost, fear of negative results, length of time to complete, etc. To overcome these barriers, RMS works hard to build a base of educational materials for clients through social networking and having a presence at local and industry events. Strong networking skills are invaluable in this industry. There is always a methodology that will work for a business to overcome any barrier and market research can be done well, fast, and inexpensively.
  • (2) How to code open-ended questions – I have learned how to code open-ended questions in college, but that experience fails in comparison to coding open-ended questions for a full scale market research study. Market research professionals read every survey response, and create categories suitable for all responses. Want to learn more about coding? Click here. The researcher will then determine themes and recommendations based on the responses. So believe it or not, your well-thought out responses that you answer on an online or mobile survey are actually read by a real human being! (Me, in many cases at RMS!)
  • (3) How to blog – Another valuable skill in this industry is blogging.  It’s an effective tool used to fore-show potential clients what services the firm is capable of providing. We recommend using images, tags, hyperlinks, and a searchable title in order to blog effectively. Creating fresh content and SEO-friendly material for market research is a goal of mine here at RMS.
  • (4) There is room for creativity – On the surface, the market research industry seems very structured, data-oriented, and rigid. However this is not the case, creativity can be used during all steps of the research process. Customizing surveys, creating word clouds from coded responses, and creating PowerPoint presentation templates for reports are examples of creative outlets for market researchers.
  • (5) Quadruple check – It’s easy to overlook confusing language or mistakes when you have been working on a document for a long time. When checking a document, ensure that you look at the bigger picture. For example, after creating a questionnaire, envision how a respondent would comprehend the question (without having a background in market research). Additionally, have a coworker in a different department review the questionnaire. They are more likely to notice mistakes that you may unknowingly repeat.

The ViewPoint panel coordinator position is perfect for me because it marries my passion for public relations and marketing. It has been great to apply what I have learned at Oswego State while learning additional skills that can’t be learned in the classroom. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about RMS, contact our Director of Business Development Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.



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