Why ISO 20252 is critical for quality healthcare research

Working with an ISO 20252-certified healthcare research partner is a competitive advantage.
01 September 2022
HCPs Healthcare audiences

Senior vice president, US

Get in touch

Market research helps reduce risk, provides for better understanding, and can ultimately lead to better business decisions. However, if you can’t trust the data or fail to do your due diligence with the research methodologies, it can lead to faulty data and poor decision-making.

Quality healthcare research requires accuracy and validity. ISO 20252 brings a framework to global research methodologies, employing best practices, transparency, and consistency to research.

Researchers can trust organizations that meet the ISO 20252 standard to provide accurate, reliable and traceable data.

Organizations that have achieved ISO 20252 certification demonstrate:

  • Proof of their commitment to quality research
  • Adherence to legal requirements
  • Confidentiality
  • Credible, transparent methods of data collection
  • Management of the entire research process

With healthcare data, the stakes are high. You must be able to trust the data you get. Researchers will want to validate the data themselves to ensure research methodologies provide accurate insights. ISO 20252 provides the framework and transparency needed for such validation.

What is the ISO 20252 standard?

The ISO 20252:2019 standard was revised in 2019, providing guidance on how research studies are conceptualized, enabled, supervised, and reported. Don Ambrose, Chair of the ISO technical committee during the revision process, said that by establishing a consistent framework, researchers will be able to “obtain globally-compatible, comparable, and homogeneous feedback.”

According to the Internal Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), ISO 20252 provides a platform for:

  • Ensuring timely delivery of quality services
  • Improving operational management and control of research processes
  • Reducing errors and rework
  • Enhancing user reputation and providing a competitive advantage

The revisions to the standard include healthcare market research and panel management. Previously, two different ISO certifications were needed.

ISO 20252:2019 covers every stage of the research study from the first contact between client and provider all the way to the presentation of the results. The standard’s third edition has now been updated to reflect modified research practices, including the complete ISO 26362:2009 covering the management and the use of panels.

The core framework for ISO 20252 covers:

  • Confidentiality of research
  • Documentation of systems and practices, including records management
  • Personnel and infrastructure responsibilities, including performance management of personnel
  • Information security with a robust security risk framework and controls
  • Strict rules and processes for subcontracting or outsourcing
  • Detailed deliverables, including planning, delivery, and reporting on projects
  • Legal requirements, internal and external audits, and management review

The ISO 20252 standard also covers how probability samples, non-probability samples, and access panels are conducted. It is an extremely demanding standard — as it should be especially for healthcare data. It also covers practices and procedures for:

  • Fieldwork, data collection, and data validation
  • Physical observations and digital observations
  • Self-completion of data, including validation of self-completed data
  • Standards for data management and processing, such as hard copy data entry, data editing, file management, and data analysis

Why is the ISO 20252 standard crucial for healthcare research?

Working with a research provider that is certified and meets the standardization and quality assurance criteria can provide greater confidence in the results. When these guidelines are in place, healthcare researchers can trust that the research was conducted according to exacting standards and rigorous validation.

These standards also instill confidence in participants and panel members, who can trust that their input will be used ethically, correctly, and securely. Kantar Profiles Healthcare is certified on ISO 20252. By following these standards, we ensure the data from our panelists complies with the latest industry standards on IT security and data protection.

Every process we undergo is documented, including panel management and research execution, for greater transparency that researchers can trust. This allows them to dig deeper than just the result, so researchers are confident in the methodology being used.

Not every research provider is comfortable with this level of scrutiny. It requires suppliers to open their books to an external auditor annually who will access projects at random and spot-check quality to ensure continued compliance.

For healthcare researchers, however, this quality is essential to draw accurate insights. When firms report market research results that aren’t based on sound research principles, they are not reducing risk. In fact, they may be inadvertently increasing it. Even if the research is valid, if those viewing the research are unable to ascertain the underlying principles and methods for gathering, collecting, and validating the results, they may lack confidence in the study — effectively rendering it useless.

Accreditation helps assure healthcare researchers that the data has been collected, processed, analyzed, and presented with the highest standard for data quality. With the strict legal, ethical, and compliance regulations present in healthcare, it is essential to work with research providers that adhere to these standards.

Increasing use of advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning

The increased use of advanced analytics and emerging technology has produced some stunning breakthroughs in healthcare, including chronic decision management, medical imaging, and accelerated diagnosis — just to name a few. These insights depend on accurate data. If there is implicit or explicit bias in the data, a failure to follow strict and standardized regimens for collecting and processing data, or inaccurate data, the results of any further study will be invalid.

“Algorithms are only as good as the quality of data they’re being fed,” said David Talby, PhD, MBA, CTO at John Snow Labs.

Independent research as the only way to ensure rigid data accuracy

There is no standard for the way hospitals and healthcare systems collect and share data. Much of the data is also contained in unstructured forms, such as doctor notes, lab reports, or pathology reports that include nuances that make it challenging to transform them into structured data for analysis at scale. There are also concerns from patients and doctors about how the data gathered will be used and protected. As such, working with a data service provider that adheres to ISO 20252 certification can produce verifiable data that passes the highest standards.

Kantar Profiles Healthcare is ISO 20252 certified

We own and operate a proprietary double opt-in research panel using permission-based data.

Kantar Profiles healthcare certification for ISO 20252:2019 includes:

  • Primary and secondary healthcare market research
  • Qualitative and quantitative methodologies
  • Health Care Provider (HCP) panels
  • Interventional and non-interventional healthcare research

“Our healthcare teams have gone through an extensive auditing process and have been praised by CIRQ’s auditors for our strong project and systems knowledge, record keeping, research management and use of technology to improve our processes. All Global Circle – our healthcare professionals panel - has the highest standard in validation,” said Jennifer Carrea, Managing Director, America and Global Health, Profiles Division. “We have multiple checkpoints along the registration journey that include validating their specialty, location, and expertise in their field. The auditors acknowledged these high standards and praised the team for its diligence and providing high-quality panel services to our clients.”

Deep insight into the views of healthcare professionals and patients

Kantar Profiles Healthcare collects qualitative and quantitative data from both healthcare professionals and patients globally using proprietary, validated healthcare panels. This allows researchers to access a vetted and validated physician panel, as well as insights from nurses, payers, thought leaders, and other stakeholders in the healthcare industry across a vast array of therapy areas.

Healthcare panels are double opt-in and include as many as 2 million healthcare professionals from nearly 100 specialties, 44 therapy areas, and 56 countries. This gives you access to working professionals and industry leaders as part of our healthcare market research.

Our healthcare survey and market research is accredited for ISO 20252 for primary and secondary research. We can provide deep healthcare insights by integrating qualitative and quantitative methodologies as well as our healthcare provider panels. Mixing these methodologies in accordance with industry standards, we can provide:

  • Exploratory interviews to create quantitative questionnaires
  • Attributing generation to inform segmentation
  • Follow-up with telephone depth interviewing (TDI) after quantitative research to probe more deeply into responses
  • Review charts collected in quantitative with the reporting physicians to gain insight into decision-making
  • Ideation to create concepts for quantitative testing

To learn more about Kantar Profiles and how we can help you, contact us today. 

Get in touch
Related Solutions
We’ve simplified, streamlined and scaled how you access respondent profiles in compliant ways.
Survey programming and fieldwork services, from fully customized research designs to sample-only fieldwork.
circular light data
Market-leading access to a quality panel
Gain a deeper understanding of people, with speed and at scale, using the global Kantar Profiles Audience Network and online data collection and connection services.
Learn more