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How does list recruitment work in medical market research?

Recruiting the right participants for medical market research is notoriously tricky. The criteria in healthcare market research tends to be very strict – and when you add specialist therapy areas, time-pushed HCPs and low incidence rate diseases into the mix, things become even harder. If your client has very specific criteria such as physicians using a specific device or hospitals prescribing a certain type of medication, you might be asked to use list recruitment to ensure you are targeting the right respondents. Read on to find out how it works;

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medical market research


The lowdown on list recruitment

List recruitment pretty much does what it says on the tin – it’s when your client gives you a list of data to recruit from. An example we see frequently is pharma companies providing a list of hospitals to recruit from where a specific drug is being prescribed or a list of certain physicians who are prescribing it, or even a client carrying out research at hospitals that use a type of medical device and wanting to speak to the people operating it. When dealing with such specific criteria, these types of lists can be an excellent starting point to make sure you recruit the right people for your medical market research study. In fact, even if you aren’t using list recruitment it’s always worth asking the commissioning client for any extra information such as drug prescribing data, market penetration and the range of customers who are actively or considering prescribing. This sort of info can be really valuable and might not be available in the public domain, so it’s always worth asking!

Think about quality

Although list recruitment can be a great starting point when it comes to recruiting for medical market research projects, there are some important things you need to consider. First things first, you should confirm the quality of the data and how much detail it has. How accurate is it? And how old is the list? For example, having a list of full names, addresses and telephone numbers is very different to having just initials and a hospital name or even a list that hasn’t been updated in a number of years which will make a huge difference both to the feasibility of your research and potentially the timings required as well. Another important thing to consider is if it is possible to free-find if there is limited or no success with list recruitment – if you’re clear on what options you have available to you and if you can use other recruitment methods alongside list recruitment, it will make it easier to achieve the necessary sample size.

Be realistic about hit rates

Why might you need to consider alternative recruitment methods if you have a list of suitable candidates right in front of you? Just because you have a collection of names and email addresses of potential participants that adhere to the necessary criteria, it doesn’t mean they will be willing to take part or even qualify when you go through the detailed criteria with them. In fact when looking at potential participants for market research, we recommend an estimated response rate of one in 25 – so if you have a list of 1000 names to recruit from, you would estimate at getting around 40 responses. Obviously this also depends on things such as the therapy area and incidence rate, but it’s a good way to get an idea of the potential sample size you’ll be working with. Ultimately you need to make sure that you have enough contacts on the list to recruit the number of participants needed – and if you don’t, you might need to look at using other recruitment methods too.

The power of three

Once you start reaching out to the people on your list, it’s really important to limit contact attempts to a maximum of three times. You might start with an email, follow up with a phone call and then send a text – but anymore than this and you run the risk of bombarding them. Yes, physicians and nurses are notoriously busy and might not be able to get to the phone easily, but if they haven’t responded to you after the third attempt, it’s pretty safe to assume that they aren’t interested in taking part. Not only that, but they also might not even be aware that their name is on the list in the first place, so it’s important to not be too forceful with your approach.

When dealing with the strict criteria often involved in medical market research, list recruitment can be a really great recruitment methodology – you just need to ensure that you’ve got enough good quality data on the list so that you can ensure your project is feasible. If you’d like to find out more about how to ensure your medical market research is feasible, download our guide to choosing a sample size here.