Rev Member Yasamin Miller Group Redesigns the Way Researchers Conduct Surveys
“Hello, my name is ______. I’m calling on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”
If you have ever received this call, you have been faced with a dilemma: End the call as quickly as possible or participate in a lengthy verbal questionnaire. As our social media obsessed society becomes more fast paced and text based, a growing number of people (especially young people) are picking the former, or not answering their phones at all.
But given that these surveys provide critical information for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and inform its policy decisions, the declining response rate is a major obstacle to progress for public health researchers.
A Rev: Ithaca Startup Works member company, Yasamin Miller Group, is addressing this growing challenge with a team of epidemiologists, data scientists, communications researchers and web developers. YMG is in early development of a smartphone app that electronically administers surveys to users, targeting those segments that do not usually answer the phone, who according to YMG, includes more young people and minorities.
“This could be game-changing for us in the health realm,” said Yasamin Miller, YMG’s managing director and co-founder.
An app-based survey system would take advantage of the public’s widespread comfort with digital communication and may increase response rates by allowing respondents to multi-task while completing the survey. If successful, the CDC or any other researcher who needs to collect survey data targeting a population, could collect this data in real time for a fraction of the cost of telephone surveying.
The potential advantages do not stop there: Miller and her team hypothesize that young people are more honest on electronic surveys. Even the voice of an anonymous surveyor can trigger a fear of judgment in questionnaires that include touchy subjects such as employment status, lifestyle habits, or drug use.
YMG recently closed on its third round of funding and is now focused on app development. The team is collecting focus group data to pinpoint an advertising strategy that attracts the high volume of users necessary for a successful launch. The team plans to roll out the product for a limited audience this spring.