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9 steps to successful healthcare market research: a beginner’s guide 

Posted by Adam Irwin on 20/02/18 09:37
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There’s an awful lot to consider before kicking off a healthcare market research project. From choosing a suitable incentive to picking the right methodology and recruiting your participants to verifying them, your to-do list might seem never-ending. What you need is a clear plan of action to make sure you have all bases covered – and that’s where we come in. Read on for our simple steps to market research success (you’re welcome!)

plan your healthcare market research

1. Don’t forget to feasibility test

Before starting any type of market research project you should always carry out a thorough feasibility test to get an idea of how achievable the project is – and this is even more important in healthcare market research. From your prior experience in the therapy area to identifying drug usage rates and incidence statistics right through to exploratory interviews with healthcare professionals, highlighting potential locations for your fieldwork and even whether your methodology is right for the target audience (hint: a location specific focus group isn’t going to be the best bet for low-incidence diseases), a good feasibility assessment will help you drill down into your target demographic and leave no stone unturned to ensure your project is viable.

2. The right way to recruit

The right respondents can make or break your project – especially when it comes to healthcare market research where the criteria can be very specific. Social media is a great way to find both patients and healthcare professionals – try LinkedIn for HCPs and Facebook for patients – and thanks to Facebook paid ads, you can target people based on very specific criteria, too. You could also try support groups or online forums to recruit patients, whilst HCP finders and refer a friend schemes are great techniques for sourcing quality patients as well. And don’t forget panels, either – they are an excellent way to access quality participants and HCPs you already know are willing to take part in research.

3. The importance of validation

Your participants might seem perfect at first glance – but by taking the time to dig a little deeper, you can be completely confident they are right for your market research project. Qualifying your participants over the phone enables you to check they are right for the study and get an idea of how interested they are, as well as exposing frauds and ensuring you’re not talking to people who regularly take part in research. A few top tips: avoid using too much medical jargon when qualifying patients, don’t ask leading questions and try to keep it short and sweet. Check out this blog for more info.  

4. Make sure you over-recruit

There can be a lot of bumps on the road to market research success. From patients who are too unwell to take part or travel to HCPs who are caught up in surgery and too busy to attend, there are a number of potential pitfalls that could result in no-shows on the day – which is why you should always over-recruit. By over-recruiting, instead of scrambling around at the last minute to find a replacement (which is pretty difficult when dealing with specific patient criteria or busy doctors) you can prevent the drama and make sure you have fully validated participants on hand and ready to step in if needed.

5. Always offer an incentive

It’s pretty standard to offer an incentive to thank your participants for their time – and it’s arguably even more important to do so in healthcare market research. After all, with HCPs taking time out of their busy schedules to give you valuable insights and patients offering up personal and sensitive information, incentives are a great way to both encourage them and thank them for taking part. Good incentive ideas include cash, cheques, BACs, vouchers, gift cards and even a donation to a charity supporting the relevant therapy area. Just make sure your incentive adheres to the BHBIA guidelines.

6. Choose the right methodology

Choosing the right methodology for your healthcare MR can often seem like an overwhelming task. From focus groups to in-home interviews and market research online communities to online focus groups, there are lots of options available. Focus groups are great for facilitating discussions whereas MROCs are good for HCPs with hectic schedules or patients who feel more comfortable taking part in research at home.Alternatively, whilst one-to-one interviews are a great way to build a rapport when dealing with sensitive subjects, online focus groups generate in-depth, in-the-moment insights. Basically, the right methodology depends on your specific needs. Find more top tips on choosing the right technique here.

7. It’s all about the logistics

From travel arrangements, room hire and catering costs to login details and software testing, organisation is key to a successful healthcare MR project. Put yourself in your respondents’ shoes: if you are conducting a focus group, have you offered enough time slots to appease everyone taking part? Will the session fit in around healthcare professionals’ busy schedules? Is it wheelchair accessible if any of your patients use wheelchairs? If you are conducting an in-home interview, have you allowed for travel time in between interviews? The devil is in the detail – so make sure you consider every possible element beforehand to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day.

8. Be prepared

In order to ensure your participants are as comfortable as possible and therefore willing to open up, you should make sure they have all the information they need upfront. This is especially important when dealing with sensitive subjects – by telling your participants as much as possible beforehand they will be more relaxed and you can make sure that there aren’t any nasty surprises on the day. When it comes to patient-centric research, they are likely to be quite nervous so having all of this information will calm them down. Will they need to bring proof of ID with them? Or a proof of medication? Who should be with them? How long will it take? Make sure they know absolutely everything and you can’t go far wrong.  

9. Communication is key

Frequent communication is so important in market research - not only can it ensure everything goes according to plan, but it can also help you begin to build a rapport with your participants. Whether you’re staying in touch after they've been booked in or scheduling reminders to reduce the risk of dropouts, don’t be afraid to chase them to make sure they respond (but don’t become a nuisance!) We’d recommend sending reminder emails in the weeks leading up to the research, reminder calls the day before and a text message on the morning of the research. Basically - never leave it to chance that they will show up, especially when HCPs have such full schedules.

So there you have it. Follow these nine steps and you can be pretty sure that your next healthcare market research project will be a success! In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about successful recruitment in healthcare MR, download our helpful guide here.

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