5 Critical Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Panel Provider

Sampling is one of the biggest challenges facing marketing researchers today. Lack of consumer confidence in surveys, concerns about privacy, “professional” respondents, and bots are all combining to lower response rates and weaken data quality. That is true for general B2C and B2B marketing research, but it is especially severe in marketing research in the healthcare industry, and even more so when trying to reach healthcare providers (HCPs).

Anyone who owns a consumer panel probably has some healthcare providers in their database. But that is not the same as a provider who owns and manages a proprietary healthcare panel. The brutal truth is that the incidence of healthcare professionals in the general population is extremely low. If you want to build and maintain a representative, reputable, dedicated healthcare research panel, you have to work at it. Healthcare professionals aren’t going to flock to your panel; you need to focus on – and even specialize in – finding and recruiting them to participate in your research and then building trust with panel members, so they stay engaged.

Here are three common scenarios we often see:

  • Client comes to a general consumer panel asking to survey doctors. Consumer panel wins the project, and then finds out that these doctors must be cardiologists, or internists specializing in a certain population or disease, or working in a particular hospital setting. The consumer panel no longer has enough respondents to fill the quota and turns to Reckner Healthcare for assistance.
  • Client goes to a healthcare panel, but then discovers through recruiting and trying to complete data collection, that the panel cannot fill their quota. Panel vendors then turns to Reckner Healthcare to complete the project. Or worse, Panel turns to two or three other panels to try to fill the quota and finally comes to Reckner to finish it up.
  • Client uses an aggregator to fill the HCP quota. The aggregator includes multiple panels to fill the quota, and eventually ends up with Reckner Healthcare to complete the project.

So, what’s wrong with that? After all, the quotas are filled eventually. That may be true, but the impact of using multiple sample providers can significantly impact the success of your project. Here are some of the implications:

  1. Less Control Over Respondents. Your sample provider definitely thought they could meet your quota when they wrote their proposal. They based their timing and their pricing on that assumption. If panel providers find that they can only partially fill your quota and have to bring in other partners, respondents may be brought into your project in different ways, at different times, introducing inconsistency in the data collection. Further, there will be questions about whether all the invitations are sent or whether each new panel needs another round of soft launches? That, of course, leads to more inconsistency and potential delays.
  2. Hidden Costs. Introducing new panel sources into the project plan midway may incur additional, unexpected fees, such as increased incentives, panel partner minimums, and mark-ups. Ask your healthcare panel provider if adding additional partners mid-way through the project will impact your cost and ask them to be specific about these potential extra fees – even if they believe they can fill your quota as planned in their proposal.
  3. Incentives Not at Fair Market Value. If one panel offers a respondent incentive of $X and another partner panel pays far less than that for the same survey, you may not get the same data quality from both panels. Even if you can complete your project using only their panel, your data quality may be suspect if they are paying significantly less than Fair Market Value, given the HCP respondent’s salary, expertise, and demand.
  4. Panel Source. Where is your panel provider getting their healthcare professionals? What is panel members’ motivation for joining the panel? Some panel provider’s main business is offering ancillary services to HCPs, and then recruiting panel members from those lines of business. How does your provider attract and recruit their healthcare panel members? Respondents whose motivation for participating in marketing research is to provide reliable information to the best of their abilities will deliver better and more insightful information.
  5. Poor Targeting. Panels that specifically recruit for healthcare marketing research understand and provide respondents explicitly targeted to your project. If you need to speak with gastroenterologists and your panel can only target internists, your project can not deliver the information you need. A healthcare panel will have sufficient members and profiling depth to meet your project needs.

Consistency in respondent selection and data collection are the keys to facilitating analysis. If you have respondents from multiple sources, you may have significant variations in data quality. If that is the case, you will need to take that into account throughout your analysis, and that may limit your reporting and insights.

“Bad respondents” giving low-quality data plagues the entire marketing research industry, and especially healthcare industry research. It only makes sense to understand how your sample provider is planning to fill your quota. Whenever possible, give your project the benefit of a dedicated panel and a provider experienced in providing healthcare respondents for all types of healthcare marketing research.

Reckner’s dedicated Healthcare Panel can meet all your HCP sample needs. Contact Reckner Healthcare today to learn more about how we build and manage our Healthcare Panel.