The ProofPilot Blog - Design, Launch & Participant in Research Studies

5 Questions a Survey Can’t Answer, but ProofPilot Can


Way back in the olden days, to run a survey, you hired a survey research firm like Gallup, Nielsen or Harris. Now, with tools like SurveyMonkey, anyone can launch a survey across the web. Today there’s a survey measuring every opinion, topic, experience and issue imaginable.

But, if your questions fall into one of these five categories, you’re not running a survey. You’re conducting a research study, and a survey tool alone isn’t right for you. Surveys aren’t experiments. They don’t maintain relationships with participants over time. They don’t manage interventions and treatments. But ProofPilot does, and therefore can help you answer these kinds of questions.

1) Does my treatment improve health outcomes?

You can order a diet plan on Amazon and have it delivered within a couple of hours. But, dropping five pounds is still going to take way longer than you’d like it to. Technology may be speeding up our culture and society, but our bodies still respond to stimuli in the same way it has for millennia. Surveys are about collecting data. They aren’t longitudinal or randomized experiments. Surveys have a hard time integrating external data sources from EHRs and connected health devices. They don’t help ensure participants follow intervention and treatment protocols exactly.

ProofPilot is not just data collection. Researchers can design studies with measurements, interventions, and treatments to create randomized controlled trials and observational outcome studies. And ProofPilot has integrations with dozens of connected health devices and thousands of EHR systems around the US.

2) Does what I’m doing really help people in my community?

While political pundits and journalists respond to every tweet as a major news cycle, it still takes our society decades to make small changes despite huge efforts. Just like health research, surveys are imperfect at measuring those changes. It’s possible to run large population surveys to measure change. But it is prohibitively expensive. ProofPilot allows organizations to test small pilot programs to prove efficacy. Then, those that show they work can scale.

3) Does what I’m doing change and sustain new behaviors?

Depending on who you ask, it takes 21 days to eight months to change behavior and set new habits. During that change period, you need constant reminders and support to make that change. Surveys make it difficult to maintain relationships with participants over the time. So, supporting that participant is administratively impossible. ProofPilot allows researchers to design studies that create relationships with participants using the web, mobile, SMS, e-mail and other communication tools that support and remind participants.

4) What makes my customers return and spend more money?

Marketers are among the biggest survey users. They collect data to measure brand, opinions, and intentions. But, the end goal is to determine what activities are going to get customers to return and spend more money. Surveys are good at gauging current opinions and intentions. They don’t do well establishing causality. Online retailers have used a technique called split A/B tests. These mini-experiments test different variables that improve outcomes. With ProofPilot, this same technique is now available to offline service organizations and retailers.

5) Does my work change and sustain new knowledge and opinion?

We’ve all had a conversation, taken a class or watched a movie that had an impact on our knowledge and how we think. Sometimes we get a survey immediately afterwards to gauge our thoughts. But how often does that knowledge permanently change opinions? A survey immediately after awards is likely to provide very misleading results. ProofPilot provides the tools to measure that impact of your message before its delivered, immediately afterwards and months if not years afterwards to see what the long term affect is.

Surveys have their uses. We even use them at ProofPilot. But, scientifically valid evidence of long term effects requires a tool like ProofPilot. With it, you can measure change over time and determine what actually works to improve the human condition.

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