2019 will be a big year at First Line. We have a shiny new brand identity, an ambitious plan to raise online survey standards across the industry, and we’ll be taking a fresh look at behavioural science.



It will be our fifteenth birthday in January and, frankly, we were getting a bit bored of our old coloured-in-shapes logo. More to the point, client feedback said that our branding lacked coherence. So, we sat down with our new friends at Embrace and emerged with something we hope better communicates a) what we’re good at, b) what matters to us, and c) on that basis, how we can help. We’ll be writing to clients and prospects about all that in the new year, but in the meantime please do check out our re-designed website.




#1: An industry-wide, participant-centred initiative to raise online survey standards

Having raised the issue of declining response rates [amongst health professionals] in 2015 and co-chaired the BHBIA‘s response rate task force, I have a clear insight into the scale of the problem and the potential solutions. None of which are easy, but in my view someone desperately needs to take a commercial lead on the issue. Having stepped down from co-chairing the task force, I’m pleased to say that First Line will be having a crack at that next year, and healthcare business intelligence folk will learn more in January.


#2: Total mobile device compatibility for our surveys

This is ongoing and already well advanced. This year we completely redesigned how the ubiquitous ‘grid’ questions appear on mobile devices, developed a highly responsive Confirmit™ survey template, and implemented a rigorous pre-field QC process. In 2019 we’ll extend the number of question types that can be considered truly device neutral, and push back on non-compatible questionnaire designs, so that every survey we put into field will not only just “work”, but be straightforward to complete on whatever device and browser people are using. This is absolutely essential: more than a third of all surveys are taken using mobile devices, most of which are ‘small-screen’ phones.


#3: A re-evaluation of behavioural science 

Having helped push this particular snowball down the market research hill back in 2011, and studied / taught it ever since, I must admit that some of it is now becoming problematic. Some biases have failed to replicate and neuroscience is starting to speak against some of the fundamentals. This is happening at the same time as ‘behavioural economics’ is being accepted into the mainstream of market research thinking. We’re not suggesting a full about-turn, but we do now think some approaches are based on dodgy assumptions. I’ll be presenting a paper on this at the BHBIA conference in May, and co-convening their behavioural science course again in June.

So there you have it, hopefully a useful low-down for existing and prospective clients, and an early Christmas present for our competitors!