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4 Reasons Physician Market Research is Difficult (and How to Make It Easier!)

Reliable market research depends on reliable respondents. The best questions in the world don’t matter if you’re seeking answers from people who don’t have the expertise, experience or interest to speak openly and honestly about the topic at hand. Indeed, in many instances, finding qualified respondents is the hardest part of the entire research process. For businesses in the healthcare industry, this is often the case, as good physician market research relies on finding healthcare providers who are capable not only of speaking authoritatively about a particular subject, but who are both willing and available to do so. Thus, to maximize their chances for success with any physician market research project, businesses must strategically devise a recruitment plan that attracts input from just the right doctors with just the right types of background and knowledge. Here are four common obstacles that many encounter along the way, as well as suggestions for tackling them:

Physicians’ main priority is helping patients. To this end, the majority of their time is spent with people, treating and warding off disease. There is little time left over for filling out surveys, joining a focus group or sitting through an interview. To boost participation in any physician market research study, researchers must make the research process as easy and as appealing as possible. For instance, our team at Research America often streamlines our research instruments, condensing and branching questions as needed, or divides the research into two or even three phases, thus shortening the time needed for any single feedback session. We also try to avoid scheduling physician market research in the later part of the year when patients — having met their yearly healthcare deductibles or coming down with the winter season’s first round of flu — are scrambling to arrange appointments with doctors themselves. Finally, we try our best to accommodate physicians’ schedules, offering interview times that are flexible and expansive over several hours and/or days rather than expecting them to make time for us!

Physician market research is also made harder because physicians are often uninterested in sharing proprietary information about their practice, including their business policies, office standards, patient experiences and more. To combat potential indifference, it’s frequently necessary for researchers to offer compensation to physicians in exchange for their participation.

Because medicine is highly specialized, it can be hard to find the right type of physician. And even when found, he or she can be hard to contact: cold-calling offices to request physician participation is commonly thwarted by reception staff. Maintaining an updated database of potential physician respondents, already identified, vetted and organized by specialty, can help businesses save valuable time and money when specific research needs arise.

Of course, physician market research is always made harder by confidentiality concerns. Not only do market researchers have to ensure the privacy of their respondents, but respondents also have to consider the privacy of their patients, ensuring that any feedback they give during the course of a study respects all private and sensitive material. HIPAA regulations and other privacy laws, in particular, make it paramount that both market researchers and any physician market research respondents carefully consider how, when and where they share data. Keeping abreast of new legislation and understanding compliance issues via concentrated and ongoing education (such as webinars like this one) will ensure that any physician market research is legal, as well as reliable! 

If you need help crafting a reliable and actionable physician market research project, please contact us here at Research America. We are a fully integrated and experienced healthcare market research firm, offering our clients results that are meaningful and, thus, profitable. 

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