When it comes to conducting a medical market research project, one of the first things you need to do is assess exactly how achievable your project is by conducting a thorough feasibility test. Done right, a feasibility test will help you find out exactly how achievable your study is, how realistic your target audience is and give you all the foundations you need on which to build a successful project.
You’d be surprised to see how many projects we pick up with ongoing problems or additional expenses that could have been significantly reduced - or even avoided altogether - if the client had conducted a feasibility assessment in the initial stages. This is true for all areas of market research - but when you add the additional qualifying criteria that comes hand in hand with healthcare market research into the mix, a good feasibility test is even more crucial.
Why is it important?
Carrying out a feasibility test allows you to determine things such as incidence rates, physician numbers, drug usage and geographical considerations so you can start to get a real feeling for the viability of your project. In our experience, the more you utilise all the available resources to carefully assess and plan your healthcare market research project, the more likely you are to achieve a realistic sample size and the smoother your project will be. All too often feasibility testing is rushed through and quickly ticked off the list - but trust us, it’s worth the extra time and effort in the long run. Check out our top tips on how to conduct a thorough feasibility assessment below…
Do your research
Without a doubt the secret to a thorough feasibility assessment is all in the research. First things first, do you have any prior experience in your chosen therapy area? What can you learn from it? Next up, what secondary research sources can you use? Make sure you research specific drugs and medications relating to your therapy area, checking the NICE and MIMS websites for information about when medications were approved, usage guidance and identifying who can prescribe what and in what scenario. The NHS Digital Catalogue is also a great research tool that provides up-to-date data on NHS staff numbers so you can drill down into how many healthcare professionals are involved in treating different conditions and what this means for your sample size. Finally, you can also use desk research to identify the centres where treatments take place as well as the top consultants and KOIs in your chosen therapy area.
Reach out to the experts
Once you've identified the key people in your chosen area, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Carrying out exploratory interviews with HCPs and KOLs can be a great way to access invaluable info on the number of physicians treating a certain condition or how widely used a specific drug is in a particular region. This does mean investing more time upfront in the project, but building relationships with important physicians is invaluable - and means you may even be able to organise a quick poll to a panel of physicians that can help you estimate your sample size and how achievable your project is.
Analyse the available data
Analysing any available data from the sponsoring pharmaceutical company is another helpful way to identify drug usage rates and highlight potential locations for your fieldwork, as well as providing incidence rate statistics that can help with your feasibility assessment. It’s also always worth asking for any additional information such as drug prescribing data, market penetration and the range of customers who are actively or considering prescribing where possible. This type of information might not be available in the public domain but can really help to shape your research - so it’s always worth asking!
Take a proper look at your audience
Next up you need to investigate the prevalence of the condition you are researching in order to establish your sample size potential. For example, if your research study is looking at a disease such as haemophilia, comparing its incidence statistics with a much more common condition like asthma or diabetes will help inform your judgement. You then need to look at your target audience and make sure you’re considering the right methodology for your respondents. For example, online methods might not work particularly well with over 65s, whilst a location specific focus group just isn’t going to cut it for very low-incidence rate diseases.
Be realistic about response rates
If you’re planning on carrying out research with people diagnosed with a certain condition, it will also give you a steer as to how many doctors or nurses you’ll be able to contact to help you find your participants. Remember, just because there are doctors out there, it doesn’t mean they will be willing to participate.
From your previous experience in the therapy area and identifying incidence rates and drug usage through to interviews with HCPs, highlighting potential locations for your fieldwork and identifying potential methodologies, a good feasibility assessment will cover all bases and tick off all the boxes to ensure you can really drill down into your target demographic and determine the viability of your project. If you’d like to find out more about how to conduct a feasibility test, why not download our Beginner’s Guide To Choosing Your Sample Size for more handy hints and tips.