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How to reduce no-shows for your medical market research

It’s no secret that qualitative medical market research takes a lot of planning. From sourcing hard-to-reach patients living with low-incidence rate diseases to organising your research to fit in around healthcare professionals‘ busy schedules, it takes a great deal of work to get a healthcare MR project up and running. And after so much work, the last thing you need is to deal with no-shows on the day. Unfortunately, no matter how water-tight your onboarding process, you can never be 100% sure that all of your respondents will show up. If you’re struggling to deal with last minute dropouts, read on to discover our top tips on how to reduce no-shows in your next medical market research project;

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Medical Research

Have a look at previous projects

There’s no teacher like experience – and by looking at your previous projects to identify what worked and what didn’t, you can gather some really helpful insights to ensure your next project runs smoothly. For example, by looking at previous studies with a significant number of no-shows you can try to determine what happened to prevent the same thing from happening again. Whether you notice a trend between certain types of respondents and high dropout rates, or see that there are certain times of day that just don’t work well for the types of physicians you are recruiting, this type of info can help you tweak your next project and reduce the risk of drop-outs. You can also have a look at tactics that previously worked well and encouraged your participants to show up, from a particular type of incentive or how often you kept in contact.

Give them all the info upfront

In order to ensure your participants are as comfortable as possible – and therefore more likely to show up on the day – you need to make sure they are well-informed about all aspects of your market research project from the very beginning. From how long the research will take to what is expected of them and why, by making sure they know as much as possible you can significantly reduce the risk of dropouts – especially when dealing with sensitive subjects or conducting research with patients who might be nervous about taking part. You should also make sure you answer any questions your respondents might have and be descriptive and upfront with your answers. Basically, the more your participants know about the study, the more interested they will be and the more comfortable they will feel – which means they’ll be much more likely to show up on the day.

Location, location, location

Another way to help reduce no-shows is to carefully consider the location of your research and if it’s suitable for your respondents. Is it wheelchair friendly? Have you allowed for visual impairments? Can patients bring a caregiver with them? Considering these things will make it much more likely that your patients will show up on the day. You should also consider how far away it is: time-pushed HCPs or patients with conditions that make it difficult to travel might not be able to travel long distances. If travel is completely unavoidable, make sure you provide detailed information on how to get there and ensure your participants are fully informed about the distance and cost – and if the location is really far away you might even want to consider a travel reimbursement to encourage them to make the trip.

Make them feel special

It’s really important that your respondents know just how important they are to your study. It might sound like a cliche, but people like to know they’re needed – and making sure your participants feel valued and know their opinion is important can have a real impact on whether or not they decide to show up on the day. By letting your respondents know that their opinion is making a difference and that you are looking forward to hearing what they have to say you can make no-shows much less likely – especially in healthcare market research where patients will want to help others suffering from the same condition.

Make sure you communicate

The way you speak to and interact with your participants is something you should think about from the beginning. The way you initially approach people and tell them about your study is one of the most important ways to get them excited – if you’re excited about the project, it’s more likely they will be too. It’s important to maintain that excitement throughout by keeping communication consistent – by making sure your participants know what’s going on during every stage, you can ensure they stay engaged and want to take part. Not only that, but frequent communication can also help to strengthen your rapport with your participants, which is really important when dealing with sensitive subjects or rare illnesses.

Don’t ask for too much

Always make sure you are realistic about what you are asking of your participants. After all, your respondents are busy people with busy lives – especially HCPs who likely have very full schedules and whose time is very precious – and if they are taking the time to be part of your healthcare market research, you have to respect their time. From the screener and validation process at the beginning right through to the scheduled amount of time for the research itself, you should always try and keep timings to a minimum so your participants don’t get disengaged or bored. After all, if your participants feel like they are being asked to commit a lot of time and effort for very little reward, they may not bother to attend on the day.

Offer an incentive

It’s pretty standard to offer an incentive to thank your participants for their time – and this is arguably even more important in healthcare market research where HCPs are taking time out of their busy schedules and patients are often offering up personal and sensitive information . Incentives are a great way to encourage and thank your respondents for taking part; not only will an incentive make your respondents more enthusiastic about taking part, but by giving them the incentive on the day you can significantly reduce the risk of no-shows, too. Incentives come in a variety of forms, from cash, cheques and BACS to vouchers, gift cards or even a donation to a charity supporting the relevant therapy area. Just make sure your incentive matches the amount of time and work you are asking of them and ensure it adheres to the BHBIA guidelines, too. Find out more here.

Always always over-recruit!

From patients who are too unwell to travel on the day to physicians who are caught up in surgery, no matter what you do to try and prevent it, unfortunately some dropouts on the day are bound to happen. An over-recruit can make sure you are prepared for any pitfalls on the day so that if you are faced with the worst-case scenario, instead of scrambling around frantically trying to find replacements at the last minute (which is tricky when you’re working with specific patient criterias or need to access specialist HCPs) you can prevent the drama and have fully validated patients ready and waiting to step in if needed. We’d generally recommend an over recruit of three people for two to take part, four people for three and six for four. Discover more here.

From hectic work schedules to patients who can’t travel and low incidence rate diseases to geographical limitations, unfortunately there are often unavoidable things that go wrong and impact on your medical market research. The points above are a great start when it comes to being prepared – but if you’d like to find out more, then why not download our guide to patient market research.