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Five common medical market research fails – and what you can do to avoid them!

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to conducting a market research project. And when you add in the specific criteria of healthcare market research, combined with looming deadlines, hard-to-reach participants and time pressures, it’s easy to see why mistakes are made. But when it comes to medical market research, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail – so it’s really important that you are aware of any potential pitfalls before embarking on your study. With over 25 years of experience in the industry, we’ve seen it all – so without further ado, here are the five most common medical market research fails we see (and our suggestions on what you can do to avoid them!)

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Patient market research

1. Not doing a feasibility assessment

One of the first things you should do when embarking on a market research project is conduct a feasibility test – especially when it comes to healthcare market research where your participants are often hard to reach and you are dealing with rare therapy areas. Is the drug you are researching commonly used? Is it approved by NICE? Do you need to recruit HCPs working at specialist centres? And what about your location – is it outside of the norm? Done right, a feasibility test will help you answer these types of questions and determine exactly how achievable your study is to give you the foundations to build a successful research project on. However, all too often due to looming deadlines and a lack of time, we see people skip feasibility testing altogether.

What can I do about it?
Always make sure you take the time to feasibility test! From identifying physician numbers and drug usage rates to geographical considerations, it’s the only way to get a real feel for the viability of your project. In fact, the more you use the resources available to you to thoroughly assess and plan your project, the smoother it will be. From desk-based research to reaching out to KOLs and even analysing the data from the sponsoring pharma company, your feasibility assessment should cover all the bases and help you drill down into your target demographic and determine the viability of your project. Find out more here.

2. Not factoring in enough recruitment time

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – a healthcare market research study is only as good as its weakest participant. That’s why it’s so important to be confident that you are sourcing the very best participants for your research. If you are recruiting patients, we’d always recommend doing so via HCPs and support groups. However, bear in mind that the recruitment of well-targeted patients can take a minimum of four to six weeks – and even longer if you are looking for a very specific patient type. And because it always needs to be the patient’s decision to get involved with the research, you have to allow them time to make that decision too.

What can I do about it?
Thinking about your recruitment from the very beginning can make sure you allocate enough time. If you’re using HCPs to help find patients, for example, they will need time to source the right people and might even run clinics once a month – or less! – for rare therapy areas. Not only that, but the rarer the therapy area, the busier the physicians are likely to be. A good idea is to send out information packs outlining the purpose and benefits of your study so everyone is fully informed – not only will this increase your uptake, but it will also save finders’ time too. Have a look at our four golden recruitment rules for more top tips!

3. Not including an over-recruit

Medical market research is a niche area that comes with its own situations and scenarios you wouldn’t usually encounter in market research. So not only will you have to deal with day-to-day issues such as people getting stuck in traffic or getting caught up at work, but you might also have doctors who are called into emergency surgery or patients who are too ill to take part on the day.The point is, your respondents are only human and no matter how water-tight your recruitment and onboarding process, some dropouts just can’t be prevented. No one wants to scramble around desperately trying to find participants with specific criteria at the last minute – which is why we recommend that our clients over-recruit.

What can I do about it?
By over-recruiting for your study, you can make sure you have fully validated respondents on standby to step in if anything goes wrong. A lot of researchers can be reluctant to over-recruit due to time and money restraints, but the cost of over-recruiting can actually be lower than scrapping your research on the day because your participants haven’t shown up – especially if you have already shelled out for venue hire and caterers! We’d recommend recruiting three people for two to attend, four for three to attend, six for four and 10 for eight – and so on. Find out more here.

4. Not validating your respondents

It’s not enough to just qualify your participants once- you also need to validate them to make sure they are the right fit for your research, After all, although someone might appear to be perfect for your project on paper, validating them will give you the chance to get to know them a little better and dig a little deeper so you can make sure. This is especially important in healthcare market research where you are dealing with specific criteria – and by validating and verifying your respondents, you can be confident that you are taking only the very best participants through to the research stage.

What can I do about it?
Always make sure you validate. In fact, before you even get to validation stage, we’d recommend pre-qualifying your participants using a self-complete questionnaire so you can narrow down through demographic questions as well as specific questions relevant to your research. A good way to validate is by asking for ID, or asking patients to bring their prescription with them on the day- and getting on the phone is a really good way to really get to know people and get a feel for whether or not they are right for your study. For more top tips on validation, check out this blog.

5. Not sending reminders ahead of the research

Your respondents are busy people with busy lives. HCPs have complicated shift patterns and unrelenting schedules that means they could be pulled into work at any time, whilst patients have to fit research in around their lives too – including jobs, family life and hospital appointments. That means just booking participants in for your medical market research project and sending a confirmation email isn’t enough – you also need to send regular reminders ahead of the research to make sure everyone is completely prepared and knows where they need to be and what they need to do.

What can I do about it?
Keep in regular contact with your participants! Once you’ve sent the initial confirmation email, make sure you keep in touch with your respondents in the lead up to the research. If you are scheduling really far in advance, make sure you send a reminder email a month before, a reminder call in the weeks leading up to the research and a text the day before or on the morning of the research too. Not only will keeping in regular contact with your participants make sure they keep the date of your project in the front of their mind, but building up a rapport with them will also make sure they feel comfortable which will encourage them to open up on the day.

There’s a lot to think about in healthcare market research – but by following the advice above, you can make sure you learn from your mistakes. If you’d like to find out more about conducting successful healthcare market research, download our guide here