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10 considerations for briefing your healthcare market research supplier

No matter what the scale or subject of your research, securing the right participants up front can mean the difference between a smooth, insightful healthcare market research project or one more likely to take up hours of your valuable time or – worse still – one that leaves you with inconclusive or unusable results.

In our experience, the clearer you are with your healthcare market research recruitment supplier from the word go, the higher your chances of starting your project with the right complement of participants. So as a starter, here are ten points to consider:

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1) Transparency. Make sure you fully share the background, objectives and goals of your research with your supplier – and, in particular, discuss with them whether it would be useful to share any of that information with the participants themselves. In our experience, the more information potential participants are given, the more likely they are to want to take part. A slight word of caution, though: while transparency with participants can have many advantages, make sure that you’re not sharing any information that could potentially affect or bias the outcome of your research.

2) Timings. Again, the clearer you are with your healthcare market research supplier, the more likely you are to avoid any last minute panics. Be clear about your project’s key milestones and – crucially, the date by which you need the project completed. In our experience, it’s best to start with this date in mind and work backwards, taking care to build in contingency days for things like field interviews or replacing sudden drop outs.

3) Regular updates. In addition, ensure that you build in regular updates and are clear about the format in which you need them. We usually recommend a weekly phone call with your supplier to make sure any problems can be raised and dealt with as quickly as possible.

4) Sample size. Think about the sample size you’re looking for and feasibility surrounding this – our blog 5 considerations for choosing your sample size, can help with that. Also consider whether you want an over-recruit – and if so, how many? We’d always recommend an over-recruit when recruiting for qualitative studies, if only to cover yourself for the inevitable last-minute drop-outs. It’s a small precaution, but one that can mean the difference between hitting or falling short of your research quota – and the delays that can cause.

5) Customer lists. Similarly, is there a customer list or will your participants be free found? If there is a list, make sure you’re clear as to how many names you’ll receive every week and whether that actually looks achievable. It would also be recommended to confirm the quality of the data you are expecting and how much detail this will have – for example initials and hospital only or full names, addresses and telephone numbers – this information will make a big difference to feasibility and potentially timings required for the research.

Healthcare Market Research

6) Drug usage. It’s also vital to communicate with your market research supplier whether you are looking for respondents that are current or lapsed users of a particular drug – or if they’re currently using a competitor product. We always recommend following NICE guidelines in reference to this, and that you analyse when it was approved and if there are any guidelines restrictions, as both could impact on your project’s feasibility. You can also check MIMS for further information on guidelines, drugs and usage.

7) Honorarium. Think about what kind of honorarium you’ll be offering to participants, who’ll be providing them and how they’re to be paid. It’s also worth taking the time to think about the’market value’ of who you’re talking to and tailor your incentive accordingly. After all, if a leading cardiologist is to be persuaded to give up their time, you may need to consider a higher grade of incentive than someone less qualified. In our experience, ironing out details like this upfront won’t just ensure you avoid any last minute headaches; smooth payments to participants will also make it more likely they’ll sign up to future healthcare market research projects.

8) Accountability. Make sure you’ve been given a clear point of contact at the agency or recruitment partner – and that you give one back. It’s always worth checking if they’re due to take any holidays (say, at a crucial point in the project) and if so, who your replacement point of contact will be. Open communication like this will mean fewer chances of miscommunication during the life of the project.

9) Devices. If your project covers device usage, make sure you’re clear on key questions like whether they’re prototypes, how many there will be, when you’re likely to receive them and in turn when your supplier will receive them – when the research is over – to whom they need to be returned to.

10) Consent: And finally – and perhaps most importantly – are there any specific consent forms your participants will need to sign? If you’re not sure, the BHBIA Guidelines will tell you everything you need to know.

Obviously, those ten points aren’t an exhaustive list and every research project will come with its own set of challenges.

Make your next market research project a successful one by downloading our guide to writing qualifying criteria: