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The essential fieldwork checklist: how to make sure your medical market research is a success

Healthcare market research recruitment can be a bit of a challenge. With strict criteria, low-incidence rate diseases and hard-to-reach patients to think about, it’s no wonder healthcare market research recruitment can be a challenge for even the most experienced researcher. And that’s before you add time-pushed healthcare professionals into the mix, too!

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With so many things to consider, it’s normal to worry that your research might fall flat. But don’t worry – with over 25 years of experience in healthcare marketing research, when it comes to tricky target audiences and hesitant HCPs, we can help! Read on for our essential fieldwork checklist, so you can ensure your healthcare market research is a success.
healthcare marketing research

Always factor in a feasibility test

A thorough feasibility test will give you a clear idea of how achievable your project is, help you drill down into your demographic and allow you to get a real feel for how viable things are – something that is especially important when it comes to the strict criteria of healthcare market research! Here’s how to carry out a thorough feasibility test so you can make the most of the resources available to you:

Look at your experience

  • Check if you have any previous experience in a particular therapy area
  • Sample size? Geographical considerations? It can all give you a good feel for the feasibility of your current project
  • If you’re using an agency, make sure you ask about their prior experience too

Ask the experts

  • Conduct exploratory interviews with HCPs and key opinion leaders (KOLs) to get a good grasp of feasibility and screening criteria
  • Contact support groups too  – they can be really helpful for identifying the right people for your study, especially when it comes to rare diseases

Do your research

  • Look at treatment centres to get an idea about geographical considerations too

Look at your audience

  • The prevalence of your condition will help to determine sample size too: if you’re researching a rare condition such as haemophilia, as opposed to a common one such as diabetes, it will impact sample size and feasibility

Check your dates

  • When deciding on a date for your market research, make sure it doesn’t clash with the dates of any big medical conferences because it means key stakeholders most likely won’t be around or able to take part

Healthcare marketing research

Make sure you brief your agency

If you’re using an agency to help you find participants for your research, you need to thoroughly brief your chosen fieldwork agency in order to reach out to the best possible respondents. It’s all down to communicating, collaborating, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page throughout – especially when it comes to healthcare where there’s no room for error! Here’s how to make sure you work together with your agency so they can find you the best participants:

Get to know your team

  • Schedule an introductory call to kick things off
  • Make sure you have the contact details of everyone involved
  • Determine the main point of contact
  • Note down any holidays or absences

Communicate your goals

  • Make sure your agency fully understand your objectives
  • Ensure everyone knows what’s going on when and what their role is
  • Encourage open communication to build a rapport
  • Ask your agency for advice about how to reach your goals
  • Define key dates and milestones so you can work backwards from important dates

Define the screening criteria

  • Thoroughly explain your screening criteria
  • Make sure you’re clear about flexibility and the difference between must-haves and nice-to-haves

Agree on progress reports

  • Decide how often you want updates and in what form
  • Make sure your updates include an overview of:
  • Recruitment methods used
  • Amount of bookings scheduled
  • How they are hitting quotas
  • Questions and challenges
  • The plan of action until the next update
    Healthcare marketing research

Top recruitment tips

With strict criteria, geographical considerations, specific therapy areas and busy physicians, healthcare marketing research can be a challenge – which is why it’s so important to have a clear recruitment strategy. Here are some of our fail-safe tips to get you started – and if you’re using a fieldwork agency, they should be using these recruitment methods too:

Reach out to finders for patient recruitment

  • They’ll have a detailed knowledge of medical history, so can help source patients with specific criteria
  • Make sure you give them all the necessary info so they can relay to their patients
  • Send out information sheets outlining the purpose and benefits of the study, who is organising it, and what will happen to the results
  • Reassure them that their patient’s confidentiality will be protected

Consider using KOLs

  • Particularly useful for challenging therapy areas and low incidence rate diseases
  • Call hospitals to find out who specialises in each therapy area
  • Then send an email or letter to introduce yourself
  • It might take time to get them on side – but it’s worth it in the long run!

Search out support groups

  • Contact both local and national relevant support groups
  • Make it as easy as possible for them and make sure you explain everything about the study and its benefits upfront
  • Check with your sponsoring pharma company to see if they have any conflicts with support groups or if there are any restrictions

Share on social

  • Facebook and Twitter are best for patients
  • Use targeted ads to reach out to people based on things such as age, gender, job, and location
  • LinkedIn is great for HCPs
  • Search for specific therapy areas and join groups and discussions to get a feel for who is involved in them

Make sure you over-recruit

  • Recruit three for two to attend, six for four, and 10 for eight, etc
  • If you have to send them home on the day, make sure you offer an incentive to thank them for their time.
    Healthcare marketing research

Verification and validation

Recruiting through HCPs and support groups is the best route to ensuring you have legitimate, verified patients – but there are additional things you and your agency can do to ensure top quality participants. A solid verification plan will help ensure that you have recruited the right type of people who fulfil the necessary criteria. Here’s how:

Pre-qualify your respondents

  • Ask your respondents to complete a pre-qualifying questionnaire online
  • Include general questions and more specific ones – such as what type of medication they are taking, and how long they have been using it
  • Make it a maximum of 10 questions so you don’t put people off taking part

Ask for ID

  • This could be a photo of their prescription with their name on it next to the medication or a letter from their doctor
  • Make it clear that unless they provide ID they won’t be able to take part
  • To make things more relaxed, position it as a mini task to complete before the research begins
  • If you need to verify HCPs, ask for their NHS email address

For even more information on how to ensure your healthcare marketing research is a success, why not download our recruitment roadmap? In it, we share the best of our 25 years of knowledge in medical market research and offer expert advice on every aspect of healthcare market research recruitment. You can access the guide here.