1) Desk research
One of the most logical starting points to find your respondents is to use online desk research at the beginning of any project. Where to look, however, will vary depending on your therapy area and respondent type. For example, if your research involves talking to doctors treating patients with cystic fibrosis, one of the best place to start would be to research specific treatment centres – you know that these will be the appropriate people treating such a specific condition.
Then there are larger, more centralised resources like the NICE, NHS and MIMS websites. You’ll need to do a little more digging to narrow down your area of interest, but again, they offer you another valuable starting point.
Finally, online forums can be another hugely valuable resource, especially if you’re trying to identify patients with a particular condition. Not only do they offer you a way of getting in touch with potential respondents, they can also give you the chance to read what patients are discussing about their condition, its treatment and their experiences – all of which could help better understand when it comes to speaking with the patients.
2) Support groups
In much the same way as the forums mentioned earlier, support groups can be a great place to find patients. In fact, we’ve recruited respondents for several healthcare market research projects by getting a co-operative support group on-board.
As with online forums, support groups come in all shapes and sizes – you’ll find both national and regional ones, for example – many of which are happy to help find patients for healthcare market research. In most cases, getting in touch can be as simple as sending a short email or letter, giving a topline summary of your research, explaining what you’re looking for and how you’d like them to help.
3) Consider a healthcare research supplier
Sometimes you may need an extra set-of hands for your healthcare research study that has experience and knowledge in recruiting respondents. Considering a research supplier means that you will have access to their pre-existing contact database, potentially cutting down your recruitment time.
Also, research suppliers can offer you feasibility assessments and advice so if you are new to healthcare research this could be a great place to start!
4) Social media
Sites like Facebook and Linkedin can offer you an equally rich opportunity for finding potential respondents. As the average age of consultants comes down, so the number of them spending more time online and on social media increases – with Linkedin often proving to be the most effective social media channel to contact healthcare professionals. For patients, on the other hand, Facebook can often reach a larger number of potential respondents for healthcare market research and is considered a more consumer-friendly platform.
Should you need to access a more specific demographic, consider sponsored adverts that will target this specialised criteria and reach more people than you could organically. You’ll find step by step instructions on how to do that on the individual sites.
5) Personalised invites
Email has made it substantially easier to send multiple invites to healthcare professionals or patients – but we’ve often found that taking a more personalised approach can have a positive impact on response rates. After all, who wants to feel like they’re just a number when they could feel more valued instead?
As such, whether you’re talking to patients or healthcare professionals, we’d recommend writing a letter, personalised email invite or making a phone call to potential respondents. You’re asking them to devote a few hours (or more) of their professional or home life to help you with your healthcare research and they would appreciate the time you have taken to do so.
Whether it’s old fashioned conversations around the water cooler or via social media, you’d be surprised at the results you can achieve simply by asking people to spread the word about your healthcare research.
For example, if you’re looking for healthcare professionals, consider asking any respondent’s you have already recruited if they could recommend anyone suitable to take part. Whether you end up with a nurse suggesting a consultant or vice versa, just one conversation could yield exactly who you’re looking for. Word of mouth with patients can prove equally effective – and just as our recent blog describes the advantages of incentivising respondents consider offering them a referral fee as a thank you.
Now we’ve helped widen the sphere of your respondents, the next step is to ensure you’re recruiting the most appropriate people with an effective screener. We’ve put together a five step guide to building a screener that works download it now: