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The education industry has faced its fair share of hurtles since the economic downturn. It’s clear that a prosperous economy requires an improved educational system (among other things), but the kinks in the rope have yet to be worked out to figure out exactly how to achieve improvement. Thoughts differ on how to achieve a more efficient education pipeline, but several themes remain consistent front-runners for trends to monitor across the educational space this year as we begin the second quarter of 2015. Some of these trends were not a surprise to our team, but some were certainly eye opening.

A bit dramatic, but you get the point.

A bit dramatic, but you get the point.

  • Tuition and financial aid are expected to increase, and more institutions are projected to fall short of revenue and enrollment targets.1 As institutions continue to see their typical funding sources dwindle, many are relying more on grant awards and alternative revenue. This will lead sponsoring organizations to require information not only on the impact of the award, but also an implementation plan for continuous measurement and analysis of data to optimize the education industry and positively influence the economy.2 The funding gap in education has been well publicized, but solutions have been more scarce. We anticipate that institutions will dedicate more resources to alumni relations and grant writing to bridge the gap once internal budgets have been optimized.
  • Colleges realize the need to demonstrate value to prospective students, so more institutions will be investigating how they can best provide quality education and services which add value to students.1 This will likely not come as a surprise to our colleagues in the higher education industry. Students have been showing increased interest in the value of a college education over the last several years. Obtaining student feedback will be vital to jumping this hurtle.
  • Academic technology and use of analytics is projected to increase at higher education institutions. It will become more commonplace for college’s to gather and use data on student learning and behaviors.1 The focus will need to be on metrics that predict success and are early indicators for areas of improvement, rather than graduation rates and persistent rates, which give us information after it is too late to impact a student’s collegiate experience. To make this venture successful, professors and administrative professionals should be part of the planning process when data collection and reporting tools are being developed.2 While some institutions will have staff in place to handle this influx of data, others may benefit from seeking a qualified vendor to assist in the compilation and analysis to determine next steps.
  • Online learning will continue to gain in popularity and robustness. Platforms are expected to become more customizable, providing immediate feedback on performance and tutoring, and ultimately leading to faster degree completion and enhanced academic relationships with professors. As students are becoming increasingly savvy with technology, institutions will need to find ways to upgrade or offer high tech educational options.This is certainly not a new concept, although it continues to evolve over the years. Since the emergence of MOOCs, we’ve seen a boom in online educational offerings. Although their effectiveness is often debated, it’s clear that online learning as a concept is growing in demand.
  • Acceptance of nontraditional credits, such as “industry-based certifications, credit exams, live demonstrations, etc.” from working professionals who switch careers is expected to become increasingly popular. This will allow the workforce to be recognized for their current knowledge when entering an academic program for a new career.1 This trend caught us off guard. It’s a very interesting concept, and we’re excited to hear if this is gaining in popularity within the industry.
  • The demographic of first-generation college students is evolving. Many are no longer “American-born students from working class families,” but are more likely to come from all corners of the world who graduated high school in the United States. Having completed secondary school stateside will make them appear like a domestic applicant, but they’ll have different financial and service needs.1 It’s not uncommon to see more institutions recruiting a larger number of international students. The U.S. has seen an 85% increase in the number of foreign students since 2005. What’s interesting is the shift – first-generation college students who grew up in another part of the world, but relocated to the United States to complete high school and attend college. Institutions will need to determine the financial aid and student service needs of this population to stay ahead of the evolving trend.
  • The traditional post-secondary student demographic is also shifting. The number of mid-career professionals and baby boomers attending college is on the rise, which will require institutions to revisit their suite of academic offerings and ensure the evolving needs of the student are being met (such as desired schedule, learning format, and program structure).1 Program feasibility studies and revisiting strategic plans will become vital components of an institution’s effort to meet changing needs.
  • More states are requiring institutions to give college credit to veterans for their service to our country. There has also been a shift in policies which requires all public universities in the United States to allow military personnel to receive in-state tuition for use of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit, regardless of residency restrictions as part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.3 This is a recent alteration in tuition expectations, so it will important for institutions to monitor and assess the impact of the Act on their bottom line.

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

Sources

1. Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2015 trends. (2015, January 1). http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/higher-ed-thought-leaders-forecast-2015-trends

2. Phillips, B. (2014, December 19). Top 10 Education Trends to Watch in 2015 and Beyond. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-c-phillips/top-10-education-trends-t_b_6345056.html

3. All public colleges will soon offer veterans in-state tuition. (2015, March 9). http://college.usatoday.com/2015/03/09/all-public-colleges-will-soon-offer-veterans-in-state-tuition/

The following blog post was written by Karen Joncas, a Healthcare Transformation Coordinator at RMS.

RMS Healthcare is a leader in healthcare transformation services, and has assisted over 200 practices in their journey to Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition.  Primary care practices that have patients enrolled in a Medicaid or Managed Medicaid insurance program will benefit from the recent New York State implementation delay for the revised incentive plans for NCQA recognized primary care practices. Effective January 1, 2016, the New York State Medicaid Program is changing the Patient-Centered Medical Home Statewide Program Incentive payments for providers recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) under the PCMH 2011 recognition standards. The new policy applies to both Medicaid Managed Care and Fee-for-Service (FFS).    Payments will be reduced for those practices with level 2 or 3 recognition under the 2011 standards, and will be significantly increased for those practices recognized under PCMH 2014. The revised policy and delayed implementation date is designed to incentivize New York State healthcare providers to seek recognition under the more robust standards of the PCMH 2014 program. Ultimately, the Medicaid Redesign Team and State Health Innovation Plan hope to improve care, reduce per capita cost, and improve population health. As a result, all incentive payments for providers recognized through PPC-PCMH program (2008 standards) will be eliminated effective April 1, 2015. Physician practices from other states should check with their state Medicaid departments for rules applying to local incentive payments.

To review the schedule and details of the Patient-Centered Medical Home Statewide Program Incentive Payment contained within the March 2015 New York State Department of Health Medicaid Update, click here.

RMS Healthcare can help your practice attain a higher level of recognition or recognition under the PCMH 2014 program in order to maximize your state incentive payments.  For more information, please contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at 1-866-567-5422 or e-mail her at SusanM@rmsresults.com.

The terms “market research” and “marketing research” are so commonly used interchangeably that it often leaves people wondering about the difference between the two. Is there really a difference? Absolutely. Qualtrics summed it up perfectly on their blog: “market research is a subset of marketing research.” While marketing in general often revolves around products, pricing, places, and promotions; marketing research can encompass all four measures, but market research tends to focus on “places.” Market researchers are often tasked with identifying market or segment demand of something – be it a product, promotion, or other consumer-centric commodity. This is typically the initial phase of the research, which will inform the marketing research that is implemented during the later phase of a project.

Put even more simply, market research typically includes research activities relating to markets, while marketing research involves research tasks related to marketing. Below are some examples of market research projects and marketing research projects.

To understand the flow of market research to marketing research, consider this example. Client A is interested in conducting a market demand survey (market research) to determine whether the target audience of the commodity demonstrates enough interest to move forward to the product production phase. An online survey of the target audience reveals overwhelming interest in the commodity, so Client A moves forward with production. Several months later Client A returns, and wants to test several versions of the advertising that was developed for the commodity (marketing research). Focus groups comprised of individuals in the target market suggest that the current advertising may not be appropriate for the audience, so Client A goes back to the drawing board. A month later, Client A returns with a refined advertising portfolio, and an online survey suggests that the creative is effective in engaging the target market. Success! Clearly, this is a “perfect world” example, where all clients participate in both market research and marketing research as part of their strategy, but it provides a great example of the theoretical line of action between the two types of research.

Being the inquisitive type, I was not thinking solely about what is “right” in terms of terminology use for the two types of research, but what is most popular. This led me to stumble on a blog post that noted the difference in keyword popularity on Google for “market research” and “marketing research.” The blog post is somewhat outdated in today’s digital age, so I went to Google to mirror the search. Although market research is deemed a subset of marketing research, it appears that the former is used much more frequently. The term “market research” produced about 62,400,000 results, while “marketing research” resulted in 11,000,000. Logically, this could mean many things. It could be a signal that perhaps organizations are implementing market research but not marketing research (either because they did not proceed with the product/concept, or they simply did not conduct marketing research). Or it could mean that individuals are using the terms interchangeably. As a researcher, I’m rooting for the latter!

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 Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

This post was written by guest contributors Michele Treinin and Marc Bovenzi. 

Measuring patient experiences and patient loyalty is becoming increasingly important in the healthcare arena as patients are becoming more concerned and aware of the care they receive. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have developed a “Physician Compare” website to share results from the returned surveys that will allow prospective patients to make more informed decisions when choosing a provider.

questions to ask when choosing CG

There are three versions of CG-CAHPS® surveys.

  • CG-CAHPS® (6 month or 12 month core survey)
  • Expanded 12-Month Survey with Patient-Centered Medical Home Items
  • Visit Survey

Below are some questions to consider when deciding which survey is right for your organization.

How does your organization plan to utilize the survey results?

  • Meet minimum reporting requirements?
  • Review data to create an implementation plan that will improve the patient experience?
  • Measure compliance and determine accountability?
  • A combination of the above?

What survey instrument should you use?

The CG-CAHPS® survey serves as the core survey, and according to NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) 2014 Standards, if a practice uses the Expanded 12-Month Survey with Patient-Centered Medical Home Items (PCMH version of the tool), they will receive an additional point towards recognition.

The Visit Survey asks specifically about patient experiences with providers and staff at their most recent visit to the doctor’s office.

What about the sample?

There are three main things to consider when thinking about your sample patients.

  1. Should my organization survey all patients, or just Medicare and Medicaid patients?
  2. Should I only sample a particular number of patients per month?
  3. Should I include pediatric patients?
  4. Should I sample by location? Provider?

What method should you use?

RMS offers survey method options which are both convenient and effective for your organization and the patient being surveyed.

RMS offers:

  • Mail only mode
  • Telephone only mode
  • Email only mode
  • Mixed mode (a combination using up to all 3 methods)

When your organization is considering which modes are best, remember that a mixed mode typically results in the highest number of completed surveys and a higher response rate. If you are interested in an email survey, it will be important to evaluate how many viable email addresses are available in your database. Email often does not provide enough data for most organizations as a stand-alone method.

What report options do you need?

Your organization can analyze data from different levels to pinpoint areas of improvement. You should choose the levels that are most relevant to your situation (i.e. specialty, practice, or provider levels). RMS offers a variety of reporting options to accommodate any practice size and can provide a breakdown of data to satisfy any needs you may have.

RMS Healthcare is an approved vendor for the CG-CAHPS® surveying process. If you are interested in learning more about our survey services, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Difficult business problems require innovative ideas to solve them. Utilizing market research provides business decision makers with the insight needed to overcome these hurdles. Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) knows that when conducted appropriately, market research can have a generous return on investment (ROI).

110 m hurdles

Here are four examples for how market research can improve a business’ ROI:

  1. Understanding your market

Knowing your brand’s position and reputation is key to understanding your market. From here it is important to understand who your target audience is and what motivates them. It is also important to recognize how your target audience views your brand, and how that may differ from how leaders at your business view your brand. Knowing all of this will help your organization generate solutions geared towards your target market, as well as assist your organization in developing marketing that will effectively resonate with your target audience.

  1. Utilizing human resources effectively

As discussed in a previous blog, satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers.  One way to evaluate employee satisfaction is to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. Leave room in the survey to ask employees for ideas on how to improve business operations. Front-line employees are extremely underutilized when it comes to corporate insight and strategic planning.  Employees often see operational issues more clearly, and may have innovative ideas they have not yet communicated to business leaders.

  1. Improving your operations

In general, market research can help guide business operations through efficient and effective decision making.  Utilizing insights for decision making ensures that you aren’t wasting resources on plans that won’t be well received by your users.  Another way that market research can directly impact your operations is by segmenting your audience and identifying opportunities to better serve your market, while at the same time saving resources.  An example of this for retail is that some organizations have found certain customers prefer a self check-out.  Customers using these in addition to regular check-out lines decreases overall wait-times, and create an opportunity for staff to provide additional customer support, ultimately boosting sales.  Banking has found many opportunities in this area as well, through expanding features for online portals, smart phone applications, and self-serve kiosks.  Understanding customer preferences and segmenting audiences in this manner will help an organization generate a strategy that accommodates all users, while also taking advantage of more efficient platforms.

  1. Insight on your product/service offering

Research is a great tool when assessing consumer habits. Usage studies provide consumer insight to business decisions makers. The key is to ask the right questions that will help you understand how to be more valuable to consumers. Focus groups, feasibility studies, in-home usage testing (IHUTs), and longitudinal tracking studies are all examples of methods used in market research to evaluate products or services. Failed products like these (or these) could have benefited from additional market research to evaluate consumers’ perceptions, which may have saved their organizations from a costly product failure.

RMS is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in improving your business’ ROI, or learning more about how market research services can improve your organization, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

At Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS), we understand the top barriers to conducting employee surveys.  From the perspective of employers, a common barrier is the fear of receiving negative feedback from employees. Most business owners would agree that they prefer happy hardworking employees to dissatisfied ones. To create a positive work environment, business owners must understand employees’ expectations – what they like about the workplace, what they dislike, as well as what they need and want to be productive in their jobs.  Employee surveys are an insightful tool to gather this information.Employee Satisfaction Gears

 

Here are three reasons why you should conduct employee surveys:

  1. Increase Employee Satisfaction

Engaging employees is a critical step to establishing a positive culture in the workplace. Give employees an opportunity to offer input into their work environment, provide opinions, offer suggestions, and share workplace expectations. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great tool to benchmark overall satisfaction, measure expectations, gather opinions, and to gauge perceptions anonymously. Moreover, engaged employees are most likely to remain with your organization minimizing expensive employee turnover costs.

  1. Increase Organization Effectiveness

In a study, Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger1 talk about the “satisfaction mirror,” a continuous process in which employee attitudes and behavior are reflected in customers. Their research showed that satisfied and engaged employees result in greater customer loyalty to the company, increased repeat business, and more positive word-of-mouth comments about the organization. By increasing employee satisfaction you will create a more cohesive brand and stronger company identity.

  1. Increase Bottom Line

According to Hay Group2, a leading human resources consulting firm, companies that maintain a high employee satisfaction and engagement rating achieve 2.5 times the revenue growth than those that have the lowest rating. This research also showed that highly satisfied employees increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Customer satisfaction and repurchase intent is twice as strong among firms where employees report high employee satisfaction.3

Employee satisfaction surveys are an excellent tool to learn from your employees and create a forum for two-way communication. 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 Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

1 Heskett, J., Sasser, W. E., & Schelsinger, L. (1997) The Service Profit Chain. New York: The Free Press.

2 Hay Group. (2014). The New Rules of Engagement. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.haygroup.com/en/our-library/whitepapers/new-rules-of-engagement-report/

3 Groenig, C., Evanschitzky, H., Mittal, V., & Wunderlich, M. (2011). Customer, Employer, and Employee Satisfaction in Small-Service Settings: An Application to Franchise Networks. Journal of Service Research, June.

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background: A State University of New York College partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a program feasibility study. The college wanted to better understand the competitive landscape, occupational supply and demand, and potential learner interest in a select number of master’s programs to guide recruitment efforts. The market research objective was to provide insights needed to determine whether the new programs would be viable in the current and projected market.

higher ed feasibility case study photo

Approach: The study consisted of three components: a competitive analysis, occupational supply and demand analysis, and a market demand survey. For the competitive analysis, RMS provided detailed profiles of institutions chosen by the client, and determined the college’s top competitors based on market share. The occupational supply and demand analysis involved the investigation of professions relevant to the master’s programs being examined to determine labor market demand. The market demand survey was administered to targeted learners matching the desired profile within the college’s geographic region to assess student demand for the graduate offerings. RMS purchased a targeted sample pool for the online survey. A total of 652 surveys were completed, and fieldwork lasted approximately 6 weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Regardless of the program, online survey respondents preferred a part-time course schedule with classes held on weekday evenings, hybrid instruction, and a traditional multi-year format.
  • When online survey respondents were asked about their most common techniques for investigating potential institutions to attend for further education, the majority indicated the internet (including the college website), and word-of-mouth via family and friends as preferred techniques.
  • For all programs investigated, the occupational supply and demand analysis revealed that the average salary a graduate could expect to earn in New York State was higher than the national average.
  • The competitive analysis revealed a gap in the perceived top competitors and those who claim the largest market share for that program. This allowed our client to further investigate the true competitors and determine areas of opportunity for increasing their competitiveness in the marketplace.
  • Across programs, the majority of respondents indicated that they work full-time and are between 18-34 years old. This provided our client with the insight needed to determine that their target market is primarily made up of young professionals who need a flexible program to fit their lifestyle.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in conducting a market research project, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website atwww.RMSresults.com.

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