Focus groups date all the way back to the 1920s, when they were used to obtain qualitative data about consumer behaviour. Today, they are still valued by many industries, including healthcare, in order to gain a deeper understanding of patient experiences, feelings and preferences.
Healthcare organizations may find focus groups to be particularly useful. For instance, focus groups help measure brand awareness, assess current program outcomes or gauge interest in a potential new service. Here are several tips for conducting successful focus groups, as well as some promotional thank-you gift ideas to show appreciation to participants.
- Choose your group carefully: When assembling a focus group, be sure to choose patients that have had varying experiences with your organization—from the range of services to the tone of their interactions. When calling prospective group members, entice “yes” responses by offering a branded thank-you gift for participation, such as a pen and jotter.
- Establish ground rules: Let participants know that the focus group is a safe place for open conversation. Gauge your group’s many personality types and set guidelines accordingly. For instance, call on individuals to answer—rather than allowing for a greater free flow of responses—if your group contains dominant personalities. Or if your group has more introverted members, hold a round table discussion to encourage contributions.
- Create a comfortable environment: Consider hosting your focus group offsite, in a neutral location, so as not to evoke any feelings—positive or negative. Choose a convenient place with easy parking. Provide snacks and refreshments and be mindful of when breaks are needed.
- Set the tone: Start with a warm introduction. Be sure to introduce the moderator and consider a quick icebreaker to help put participants at ease. Ask members to state their name and tell the group something about themselves. Let group members know where to find restrooms and refreshments, and provide an agenda outlining the day.
- Be skillful in your questioning: A good moderator is good at asking probing questions. When an answer just isn’t enough, dig deeper by asking why, what and how. For instance, why do you feel this way? What makes you think that? How does everyone else in the room feel about it?
- Show gratitude: Show appreciation for focus group members’ time with a branded thank-you gift. If you can find out sizes ahead of time, a logo’d hoodie or fleece jacket make great choices. Or choose something participants can take home and share like the caramel corn tin or cookie assortment.
Focus groups can be a great way to find out what your patients are thinking. Follow these six steps for success and throw in some thank-you gifts, and you’ll have some valuable insights in no time. Good luck!