5 Reasons You Never Qualify for Paid Medical Market Research Surveys
Last Updated 30 October 2020
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Screened Out of Another Paid Medical Market Research Survey?
If you have tried joining one of the many paid physician market research survey panels and are feeling frustrated because you never seem to pass the screening questions, allow me to shed some light on the topic. Sometimes there is nothing you can do and the survey sponsors just don’t want to hear from you. Welcome to the business of healthcare in the United States.
Sometimes you click a link to a survey and find out the target number of responses has already been met. Or you are not a licensed healthcare professional. That’s a bummer (or potential fraud), but not a mystery. However, many clinicians are disqualified for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to them at the time.
That said, it’s really not the survey companies’ fault you don’t qualify. They are just passing along questions their sponsor, usually a pharmaceutical or medical device company, has already developed with the intent of capturing a pre-defined audience.
Going even deeper, it’s probably non-clinician marketers in that company who developed the screening questions and survey. So if you are looking for a scapegoat, I think we found one.
If you’ve done enough of these like I have, you see a variation of the same screening questions time and time again.
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The Good Paid Medical Market Research Medical Survey Panels
By the way, if you haven’t joined these five panels, you are missing out. And if you read this entire article without joining them all, you are leaving money on the table.
Here’s why you never seem to qualify for those paid healthcare surveys despite your obvious life qualifications.
You Have the Wrong Credentials
I know, I know, you worked hard for your credentials. We see you and your struggles, sacrifice, and sense of duty. However, credentials alone don’t translate to dollars for the survey sponsors, so let’s take a look at what this really means.
You are Not Board Eligible/Board Certified
Paid medical market research surveys exist for a variety of clinician. While board eligibility or certification is usually reserved for physicians, other licensed healthcare professionals almost always have their own version of this distinction.
Surprisingly, this is a controversial statement in some circles, but if you want to qualify for these surveys, you need to start thinking like the people who designed them. Sound familiar? *cough* multiple choice question board exams *cough*
That said, students rarely, if ever, qualify for these surveys or survey panels (M3 Global Research being the only exception I know of). And be grateful non-clinician hospital administrators have their own subset of surveys so they don’t skew real clinicians’ opinions. As for residents, it’s hit or miss (again, M3GR the exception, along with All Global Circle).
You Haven’t Been in Practice Long Enough
Yes, “long enough” is a painfully relative term here. Some researchers have included in their target population new grads, while others only qualify clinicians with 10 years of experience and a 30-page curriculum vitae.
You Entered “Other” When Asked Your Credentials
Allow me to get on my soapbox here; sponsors (the folks who make paid medical market research surveys paid) of these market research activities are notorious for being, well, marketers. Not healthcare professionals, which is a rant for another day (and a bigger soapbox). And marketers know as much about healthcare as you know about marketing.
Let me give you an example of a common error. Most (maybe all) surveys ask about your credentials. Physician (MD/DO), NP, PA, RN, LCSW, etc. Easy, right?
Well, some not-so-savvy marketers list PAs (physician assistants) as the grammatically and professionally incorrect “physician’s assistant.” This is a major faux-paux anyone wishing to endear themselves to PAs should avoid. It’s also the kind of error that a good data scientist might like to avoid.
That’s why it’s tempting for PAs (especially the experienced ones) to select “other” and write in their profession’s correct name when this happens. However, the system is almost always set up to reject anything “other” than the choices listed, because those are what the sponsor already defined as their target. And they probably don’t want to hear from an actual assistant.
What's the Real Problem Here?
So the experienced PAs are mistakenly screened out. A healthcare tragedy? No – we already have that covered. An unfortunate oversight? Yes. An unforced error a quick internet search could prevent? Embarrassingly, yes.
But it’s also more than that. It excludes valuable clinician insight, frustrates users, and costs sponsors money. If anything, this contribution to the USA being #1…in healthcare costs, is worth a consideration.
And don’t think this problem is unique to PAs. It can affect any clinician of any specialty. If you really want to participate, resist the urge to “correct” the system, because nobody will see it and it won’t affect change. Oh, and you’ll be disqualified and won’t earn any honorarium.
One strategy is to select the “most correct incorrect choice,” complete the survey (if you still qualify), and then email the market research firm about it.
You Work in the ‘Wrong’ Specialty
Like it or not, the specialists that most often qualify for these surveys are the ones who work with the most expensive therapeutics.
At the time of writing, the most sought-after specialty clinicians (physicians especially) work in hematology/oncology, neurology, psychiatry, dermatology, rheumatology, or surgery.
Some survey panels, like All Global Circle, accept (and have surveys for) a wide range of healthcare professionals. Oh, and they’ll give you $25 for joining and verifying your credentials (2-step process) when you register through this link.
You Don’t See Enough Patients
This is another tricky one. How many patients is “enough?” I have no idea, but someone on the other side of the screen seems to think they do. Sometimes you don’t see enough of a certain type of patient with the condition in which the company is interested.
Best you can do is answer honestly and hope luck is on your side today.
You Don’t Spend 100% of Your Time in Clinical Practice
This one may seem obvious, but I’d bet a lot of us get caught up on this one. Of course these companies want clinically-practicing healthcare professionals, but sometimes (looking at you, academia) you want to list the other activities you do.
I get it, you want (and deserve) credit for the research, admin time, and teaching you do. In the case of market research surveys, sometimes it’s fine, other times it disqualifies you.
You Have a Potential Conflict of Interest
Usually, this means you or an immediate family member works for the FDA, another market research firm or pharmaceutical company, or Kaiser Permanente. Don’t ask me why Kaiser is on that list. The others make intuitive sense, but I don’t know the specifics behind each one with 100% certainty. I mean corporate espionage, sure, but there might be more to the story.
How to Qualify for More Paid Medical Market Research Surveys
Now that you know why you’ve been screened out, you can apply this knowledge to the next time you are invited to a survey. If it’s not for a clinician like you, it should be clear in the invitation email you receive.
However, this post should help you better decide if spending time on the screener is worth your effort the next time it’s not so cut and dry.
Some of the better market research panels do an impressive job segmenting you and sending you (mostly) relevant surveys only.
They do this based on information you volunteer in your profile about your specialty, years of practice, etc. I think the goal is to allow you to do the screeners just once to save you the added frustration of doing them time and time again only to be disqualified.
Of course, every panel inevitably will send you some invitations for which you don’t qualify. However, you can improve your chances by joining several of these recommended panels simultaneously. Good luck!