Why One Panel Partner is Better than Three … or Five

You have probably heard the saying “less is more.” Or your mother (or grandmother) may have said, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” And that’s true of market research: the fewer the “cooks” or panel partners included in the project, the greater the probability of success. And it’s especially true of healthcare market research, where it is rare that one data collection or panel company can fill the complete quota of respondents. Even worse, some partners are just not good partners, and you may not know this! Your primary healthcare panel must be able to carefully manage all the partners in your project to ensure they use consistent processes. That is the key to finishing the project with high-quality data on time and within budget.

Let this be a cautionary tale for you. Reckner Healthcare recently was brought onto a project as the fourth healthcare panel partner. Or were we the fifth? It’s hard to remember in the subsequent chaos we all had to work through:

  • The vendor sent us four lists. One of the lists had multiple tabs, which all needed to be merged back into one of the other three lists for deduping purposes. 
  • There were three live surveys.
  • There were a total of six different survey links.

We were instructed to utilize variables within each listed file to decide which survey links to send to which respondent using if/then logic. After a lot of back and forth (including discovering that some of the sample wasn’t to be used in any case), we were able to complete the surveys successfully. 

If you do not have a strong field partner taking the lead in deciding which respondents to include in your survey (not to mention multiple surveys), you are at high risk for data quality problems. In the example above, the research firm and their primary panel partner should have left nothing to chance and created a single list that allowed for duplication of respondents across studies and exact linking variables incorporated into each record. If the primary fielding partner had taken the time to set up the sample correctly, bringing in additional partners would not be a big deal as the master list was created. 

There must be one point of contact directing and controlling all data collection across panel partners to ensure high-quality data and timely completion. Ideally, your primary panel partner can complete most of the survey quota themselves. However, if they must bring on partners to complete the project, they should use consistent protocols to ensure quality data. Part of that is ensuring that decision-making is centralized and samples and survey links given to partners are final and not open to judgment calls. 

Reckner HC’s panel is large enough and diverse enough to complete most projects without partners. And when we do use partners, we lead the effort. Let us lead the data collection on your next project!

For additional safeguards when working with healthcare panel partners, see our blog5 Critical Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Panel Provider”.