higher ed brand awareness

It’s that time of year again, students and professors are getting settled in to a new semester of college, and administrators are coming up with solutions to help their institution stay ahead of the competitive curve. Standing out among the crowd is a constant struggle for many institutions that are grappling with recent trends – the pros and cons of going test-optional, and a rise in the number of private colleges and universities raising the discount rates on their tuition come to mind first.  Today’s students (and their parents) are invested in searching for the best education at the most affordable cost, causing institutions to go back to the drawing board to revisit their branding and determine their place in the marketplace.

If your institution is revisiting brand awareness and competitive positioning, consider investigating the following:

  • How does the institution’s current branding resonate with key stakeholder groups (current/prospective students, alumni, faculty/staff, donors, local employers, and the general community)?
  • What sets your institution apart from your competition?
  • What is your institution known for? What branding opportunities can the institution capitalize on?
  • What makes prospective students consider your institution? What leads students to enroll?

To answer those questions, we’ve found a couple research options to be particularly effective. Online survey(s) with current and prospective students, alumni, and faculty/staff provide quantitative insight into the perception and awareness of the institution’s brand. In-depth interviews with local high school staff, employers, and economic leaders provide in-depth qualitative insight into brand awareness. A competitive analysis can reveal competing institutions and uncover areas of opportunity for new program offerings or educational partnerships to reduce operational costs.

Using the results of the study is where the real magic happens. Findings can drive refreshed marketing campaigns, allowing the university to better connect with untapped marketplace potential, and reinforce current relationships. With an enhanced understanding of opportunity, the institution can rejuvenate strategic planning efforts and enact a long-term plan for providing academic excellence.

Is your institution interested in conducting a branding study or competitive analysis? RMS has all the tools and resources to determine the brand awareness and marketplace positioning of your college or university. If you’re interested in learning more about our higher education services, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


The following blog post was written by Al Tripodi, Quality Auditor Associate at RMS.

HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance is paramount to health care organizations, as well as any vendors or associates which have access to Protected Health Information (PHI). Violation of HIPAA can lead to termination of employment, large financial fines, and even jail time. The following is a story that reflects on a recent HIPAA compliance issue featured in the news.

One Florida-based hospital may be in some serious HIPAA hot water after an employee reportedly leaked an NFL player’s confidential medical record to the press. An employee at Jackson Memorial Hospital allegedly leaked the medical record of Jason Pierre-Paul, the defensive lineman for the New York Giants, to an ESPN reporter and analyst, Adam Schefter, who then posted a portion of the player’s medical record online at Twitter. The medical record confirmed that Pierre-Paul had his right finger amputated at the hospital, reportedly attributed to a July 4th fireworks mishap.

ESPN is not considered a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA, but Jackson Memorial Hospital is indeed “bound by the law” and thus liable for HIPAA privacy and security violations.

“The hospital, its employees and staff, and other covered entities and business associates have the obligation not to release PHI without the patient’s consent,” said David Harlow, principal at healthcare law and consulting firm The Harlow Group, in an emailed statement. “A journalist doesn’t have that obligation, nor does his network.”

Now it becomes a question of how the ESPN reporter got a hold of Pierre-Paul’s medical record in the first place. “The hospital staffer who likely provided it is the one who has violated HIPAA,” Harlow explained. And if that individual is indeed an employee of the hospital, Jackson Memorial could be in some big trouble too. HIPAA violation fines can reach $50,000 per violation, with a $1.5 million annual maximum.

The hospital launched an “aggressive internal investigation looking into these allegations,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, in a statement. “If we confirm that Jackson employees or physicians violated a patient’s legal right to privacy, they will be held accountable, up to and including possible termination. We do not tolerate violations of this kind.”

If an investigation confirms that a hospital employee did provide this medical record to the press without Pierre-Paul’s consent, this would be a violation of HIPAA. And it wouldn’t be the health system’s first HIPAA breach. In fact, over the last four years, Jackson Health System has reported three large HIPAA breaches, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

RMS Healthcare, a division of RMS in Baldwinsville, NY can provide HIPAA training for your organization to heighten awareness and to ensure you have the processes in place to mitigate risk.  We can assist your organization in developing and implementing policies and procedures that align with the Omnibus rulings. We can provide you and your health care organization all the HIPAA policies, procedures, and forms needed. If you would like to learn more about HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance or further discuss how RMS Healthcare can help you, contact our Senior Director, Healthcare Operations and Compliance Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.

Here are links to additional information if you would like to read more:



How to Manage a Consumer Research Panel

Step #2: Quality Control

Creating a consumer research panel is a great option for businesses looking to receive ongoing feedback from stakeholders. Consumer research panels allow researchers to periodically receive feedback from members at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods. In order to have ongoing access to willing research participants, Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) created its own research panel called RMS ViewPoint. This has allowed RMS staff to become skilled at panel management. A key component to RMS’ panel management is its quality control measures. This post is the second in a series that will divulge the secrets of how RMS has found success with panel management. The first post discussed the importance of welcome calling each new panel member.

The key to panel management quality control is to dig into the data, which can b as fun as a day at the beach!

The key to panel management quality control is to dig into the data, which can be as fun as a day at the beach!

Below are a few key components our staff watch for when checking the quality of research panel data. These are just a few of the techniques we use to ensure quality data for our clients.


Flatlining occurs when a respondent selects the same survey response option repetitively, signaling a lack of engagement. To check if respondents have flatlined in a survey, we dig into the data. We pay special attention to grid questions, where respondents are asked to rate several factors on the same likert scale. For example, we may ask, “Please rate your overall satisfaction with ‘X’ on a scale of 1 to 5 where “1” means strongly dissatisfied and “5” means strongly satisfied.” If a respondent selects ‘4’ for 30 questions in a row, that raises a red flag. However, just because a respondent replies to multiple questions with the same answer does not automatically mean they did not respond truthfully. You’ll have to make a judgment call on whether or not those responses are reliable based upon the information being requested from the respondent in the survey, and their response behavior in other sections of the survey.


Similar to flatlining, if respondents speed through a survey it signals a lack of engagement.  Speeding shows that respondents did not take an appropriate amount of time to read questions and respond accurately. Most survey software allows the analyst to see how long responders took to complete a survey. Similar to flatlining, you will have to make a judgment call on whether or not the respondent’s time to complete the survey was long enough to read the question and provide a thoughtful answer.

There must be a way to sort out respondents who flatline or speed through a survey right?
Yes! It’s called a red herring question.

Failing a Red Herring

A red herring question is utilized to ensure the respondent is engaged in the survey. These questions will ask the respondent to make a specific selection from the answer choices, or to write a particular response in an open-ended question. For example, if a survey asks a series of yes or no questions, we may include a question such as, “Please select ‘No’ for the answer to this question.” If a respondent does not choose “No” for that question the analyst will know that the respondent was not paying attention to the survey. Failing one red herring question may not lead to the removal of the respondent entirely; it will be up to the analyst to determine if the respondent is unreliable by looking at other response behaviors.


A failsafe way to ensure your data is actuate, and that panel members are active and engaged, is to track each time a member completes a survey, and when they fail a quality assurance test. We recommend creating a threshold for inactivity, and failures of a quality assurance test.  For example, if a panel member does not respond to any online surveys for 6 months, we would recommend sending them an email or calling them to see if they would like to continue their membership. Additionally, if a panel member fails a quality assurance test three times, they would be removed from the panel due to unreliable activity. We also recommend tracking the panel members removed due to quality assurance failures to ensure they do not sign up again and infect your data!

If you would like to learn more about using the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel for your next market research project, please contact Sandy Baker, Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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The RMS ViewPoint Research Panel consists of thousands of consumers, just like you, who get the opportunity to be rewarded for sharing their thoughts and opinions! Are you a member of the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel yet? You can click here to sign up. To stay up to date with the latest research opportunities:
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The following blog post was written by Heather Banks, a Healthcare Transformation Coordinator at RMS.

Care Coordination is paramount to ensuring management and delivery of quality-centered patient-care. The goal of care coordination is to make the primary care practice the hub of all patient care. Not only must care coordination be within the practice, but in order to effectively coordinate patient care, the primary care practice must develop relationships between the community setting, hospitals, labs and specialists. They must create protocols to support successful referrals and transitions; and develop systems to handle the transfer of pertinent information. The responsibility of PCMH is not just to inform those community providers, but to reach out and connect with them in meaningful and impactful ways so that information is communicated appropriately, consistently and without delay. Putting a care coordination program or care coordinator in place will significantly improve quality of care and patient satisfaction. Utilizing the expertise of a Care Manager will significantly contribute to improved quality of care; patient outcome, and could positively impact a patient’s overall experience.


To improve accountability and prevent care from being fragmented, consider these five steps:

  • Assign a dedicated person/team to be accountable for managing patient care.
  • Define the extent of responsibilities for key activities.
  • Establish when specific responsibilities should be transferred to other providers whether that means specialty physicians, long-term care facilities, or home care providers.
  • Share clinical information and findings about patients who are in the hospital.
  • Ensure that referrals to specialist physicians are made and completed.

Providers need to understand why this is so important to their practices. In some instances, communication breaks down between the providers and facilities; which can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations, duplicate tests and procedures, medical and medication errors, among other problems. Having a Care Coordinator in place reduces these risks and healthcare costs by preventing avoidable hospitalizations and emergency room use.

There are four key steps that a primary care setting need to do to implement Care Coordination within the practice setting:

  • Assume Accountability
    • Decide to improve care coordination.
    • Develop a quality improvement plan to implement change.
    • Develop a tracking system to internally track and manage the referral process and transition of care.
  • Provide Patient Support
    • Train the care team in effective communication and in their duties in order to support patients and families.
    • Assess patient’s clinical needs as well as insurance and logistical needs.
    • Identify patient barriers and help address them. Be sure the patients are well informed and help them understand the reason for the referral to an outside specialist or other facility.
    • Engage the patients to talk about their care after a hospitalization or ER visit, ask them if there have been any visits to specialists or behavioral health professionals. Also ask if any medication changes have occurred outside of the PCPs office.
    • Provide the patient with a discharge check list preparing them to leave a hospital or long-term care facility.
    • Communicate patients’ needs and preferences to all staff providing care.
    • Ensure the care team follows-up with the patient post-hospitalization or ER visits within an appropriate period of time. Educate the patient on the appropriate usage of the ER or if it is something that should be taken care of in the primary care setting.
    • Identify barriers or problems that will prevent the patient from not keeping their referral appointment.
  • Build Relationships and Agreements
    • Develop and maintain relationships with key specialists, hospitals and community agencies. Become the building block for these relationships with these providers and facilities.
    • Develop verbal or written agreements that include expectations and guidelines for referral and care transition processes to keep all parties informed of any clinical developments and to ensure compliance.
    • Set clear expectations on how information will be shared.
    • Make sure the referring and consulting providers understand the importance of the referral, and the roles that each will play in providing care by implementing a standard communication protocol.
    • Be sure the information in the referral requests and consultation reports meets agreed expectations.
  • Develop Connectivity
    • Establish an EHR system that can share information so that accurate and updated patient information can be sent easily to other providers.
    • Enable live data-sharing so physicians can immediately see changes in medications and test results.
    • Establish the ability to send alerts to providers when patients have been seen to the hospital so they can follow up.
    • Implement an information transfer system and assign specific individuals on the care team to help patients and their information get where it needs to go.
    • Designate an on-site staff member who will be an expert in the EHR system and can trouble shoot problems.
    • Open communication with other providers about patients as a way of two-way communication to follow up on information received through the EHRs.

Effective communication is the foundation of any health care team. Errors in communication can have grave consequences in the health care setting. Everyone in the health care community has a role to play by working together to achieve exceptional care coordination. Practicing effective care coordination will provide significant benefits to the implementing practice.

RMS Healthcare, a division of Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) has over 50 years of collective and proven experience in providing consulting services to meet the specific needs of our clients. Regardless of your healthcare research or practice transformation needs, RMS Healthcare can help.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Susan Maxsween, Senior Director, Healthcare Operations and Compliance at SusanM@rmsresults.com or via telephone at 1-866-567-5422.

Beautiful business woman stands on the front of business partners.

The following blog post was written by Mark Dengler, President & Owner of RMS.

This past spring RMS celebrated its “lucky” thirteenth anniversary. A lot has changed over the years. The market research industry is full of transition. Phone surveys that were once a staple in the industry are moving to online, internet-based tools. Detailed, multi-paged reports are being replaced with top level infographics. Two-month-long field studies are being shorted to one-week panel studies. All of this change is being driven by the dynamic, competitive environment that we are now living in. The one constant continues to be the need to have talented and committed people on staff that are flexible, smart and eager to deliver quality results for clients.

Passionate employees are sometimes hard to describe, but we know them when we see them. Though they certainly do not all look and act alike, there are common characteristics which include:

  1. Bringing their best self to work each day
  2. Possessing a desire to continuously improve
  3. Focusing on the opportunities, not obstacles
  4. Not being easily discouraged
  5. Sharing an optimistic view
  6. Being driven to do their best at whatever they do

We’ve noticed there is a direct link between strong employee engagement and organizational success. Fundamental to employee engagement is “passion.” One needs to find individuals who are passionate about what they do; individuals who get excited about their work and value to an organization. An organization cannot teach employees to have passion, they need to “discover” an employee’s passion and then cultivate a work environment that capitalizes on this passion to generate and celebrate employee value. In this way, you will build a team of “passionate employees” who will help perpetuate the company’s mission and vision.

Creating passion at work is everyone’s responsibility, but the leadership sets the tone for the entire team. We all do not know what tomorrow will bring to our companies. However, we can choose to set an example, to lead and inspire. Make being passionate a habit and it’s likely that you’ll soon reap the benefits of increasing employee engagement.

Use these five tips to improve employee engagement today:

  1. Appreciation: Give credit where credit is due. Recognition and praise is motivating, and your employees will be more engaged if they feel appreciated. Be specific and prompt about your gratitude and your employees will be motivated to keep verifying that they’re doing a great job.
  2. Motivation: Positivity radiates and stimulates others. If you lead with empathy and integrity, you’re prone to get better results from your employees. Employees who feel threatened or generally out-of-touch with their leaders are more apt to withdraw their efforts. Be a persuasive and inspirational leader to motivate your team to work toward a common goal.
  3. Encouragement: It is gratifying to feel the work you do is appreciated and important. People enjoy the feeling of helping with the success of the organization, and if that genuine feeling is missing, people tend to disconnect. Show your employees how their role fits the organization’s objectives. Encourage others to see the “big picture” and how their performance can affect the company and coworkers.
  4. Be Supportive: Feeling stuck at a job that promises no growth or advancement suppresses motivation and drive. Discuss with your employees the path they’d like to see their personal and professional lives take. By discussing and genuinely caring about their aspirations, you’re more likely to have a productive and loyal team member.
  5. Develop Trust: Employees need to be able to trust their leaders and open, concise communication is how that confidence is built. Avoid the negative impacts of being vague or indirect, which can ignite assumptions and rumors. Be as open as you possibly can, as often as you can, and you’ll find that managing expectations will be easier, whether it’s a stressful time within the organization or not.

Online employee surveys are a powerful means to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. If you’re interested in learning more about employee engagement and satisfaction research, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


RMS is pleased to announce that we are a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved vendor of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems® (CAHPS®) for Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) survey! RMS is in its ninth year of CAHPS® survey administration, and is highly experienced in the collection of data and reporting.

Here are important dates to keep in mind if you are looking for a CAHPS® for PQRS vendor:

  • September 22, 2015— Deadline to authorize approved survey vendor
  • November 16, 2015 — Beginning of survey administration process
  • February 3, 2016 — End of survey administration process
  • February 12, 2016 — Submission of survey data to CMS by survey vendor

For more information about the CAHPS® for PQRS survey process, qualifications, and quality measures, click here.

RMS has assisted hospitals, accountable care organizations, physician practices, home health and hospice agencies, and in-center hemodialisysis facilities set a benchmark for current patient satisfaction in order to improve overall patient satisfaction.

RMS Healthcare is an approved vendor for the CAHPS® for PQRS surveying process. In fact, RMS is approved for six variations of CAHPS® surveying! For more information or to request a proposal, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

student satisfaction research

Attrition is a growing concern among higher education institutions. Students are no longer starting and completing their college education at one institution, and competition is on the rise to keep them engaged.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 33% of first-time college freshmen will not return to the same institution for the following academic year.1  Even fewer complete a program after six years at private for-profit schools, where 68% drop out. The outlook is not as grim at nonprofit private schools and public colleges, where 33% and 43% fail to graduate after six years, respectively. Interestingly, institutions that are more selective in their admissions process (those with the lowest admissions rates) experience higher graduation rates (33%), on average, than those who have open admissions policies (86%).2 So what influences these high attrition rates? Many factors, including customer service, finances, scheduling options, personal reasons, and perceived value of education may be playing a role. The cost to retain a student is much lower than the cost to recruit a replacement, so it’s important for an institution to pinpoint the issues affecting their campus, and create strategies to increase retention rates.

Here are some options for gauging student satisfaction with an institution.

  • Quick Pulse Telephone Surveying

A quick pulse telephone survey is a short (10-15 question) survey that offers the fastest turnaround time from start to finish. This type of study is often completed in about a week, and results in a report that can include: results that are representative of the student population, overall student satisfaction with your institution to create a benchmark for ongoing research, opportunities for your institution to effectively meet the needs of students, an estimated return rate of students (overall, and by class), and an assessment of the effectiveness of seminar and acclimation programs. More information on the quick pulse telephone survey process can be found here.

  • Student Satisfaction Online Survey

Conducting an online survey is a cost-effective option for examining student satisfaction. This method is frequently used to ascertain the factors affecting the retention rate among current students. Prospective students (including those who made an inquiry but failed to enroll) and alumni can be included in the research to provide a holistic review of the student experience. Online surveys often include approximate 20 questions and last less than 10 minutes. This methodology provides administration with a detailed report of the findings which can be disseminated to faculty and staff as the institution sees fit.

  • Mystery Shopping

Through mystery shopping, researchers can gain a full-circle look at the student’s experience at an institution. From the initial campus inquiry to the application and enrollment process and beyond, researchers can utilize in-person visits, phone, and online touch points to evaluate all aspects of a student’s academic experience. This “boots on the ground” approach can provide an institution with an inside view that would be hard to obtain through other methods. Research can be customized to include an evaluation of as many, or as few, touch points that the institution would like to investigate.

Are your students happy? RMS has all the tools and resources to conduct your student satisfaction research. Studies conducted by a third-party yield more honest and accurate responses from students when compared with those administered by the institution. If you’re interested in learning more about student satisfaction research, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

  1. http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/index.php?measure=92
  2. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40

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