How to Choose an Agile Healthcare Market Research Vendor
By Caleb Costa

If you are like many healthcare market insights professionals that we encounter, you are probably inundated with market research vendor options of every shape and size. Each of them fits a service you need—some niche, some more traditional—and in today’s landscape you’re likely expected to get the same research done, only faster and cheaper. 

This is where an agile market research company—one that offers real-time results and an iterative approach—can help. But how do you choose the right one with most of your current vendors seemingly offering an agile product? 

It’s important to think through the following five considerations when choosing your agile healthcare market research vendor: 


First and foremost, when evaluating any agile vendor, it’s important to understand the actual time for project completion. Is a typical project timeline being shortened from 6 weeks to 5 weeks or 6 weeks to 5 days? 

Automated programming, survey programming tools 

Then it’s good to know how timelines are shortening. Is the vendor simply requiring their survey programmers (i.e., software engineers) to stay late and work through the night using traditional, inaccessible software tools? Or, is the vendor using a user-friendly tool that anyone with basic skills can use? It’s good practice to see a demo of the vendor’s survey platform to ensure the programming won’t need an engineer’s time to get it in field, nor will there be a barrier to accessing to your results. 

The right amount of service and technology 

While an automated programming tool is important, with any agile vendor, you’ll also want to understand what kind of client services are included and whether the client service team is healthcare-focused and respondent quality-focused. When evaluating an agile healthcare market research vendor make sure you understand what research services are included, how they qualify their respondents, and then ensure the vendor is doing attentive backend data quality control upon respondent survey completion. It’s important that you get the right amount of research support. Too much service means you’re paying traditional prices and timelines will get excessive, and with too little service you might as well use survey monkey or the like and risk compliance gaps.   

Compliance rigor 

Compliance and pharmacovigilance are a necessity in our industry and anyone who lives and breathes the healthcare industry knows that the buck stops with compliance. When evaluating a vendor, of course, you’ll have to eventually make them take your company’s required adverse event trainings, etc., but does the vendor have someone on staff who is committed to owning this process? Find out whether the process is being managed haphazardly by individual client service directors or is it someone’s job at the company to handle the entire strategy and process start to finish. The vendor that has a dedicated team for this task will manage compliance considerations, so you don’t have to worry, and they’ll be on top of every minute detail so nothing gets missed. 

Real-time, integrated, high quality respondent access 

The first question that always arises in client/vendor discussions is “can you reach my target audience?” In the agile world it’s not just can you reach my audience but “how fast can you reach them?” Ask your vendor, is respondent fielding a manual process with lots of back and forth with sub-vendors or are tools more automated with fully integrated respondent access within the survey engine so that anyone can just click on whom they want to reach and hit go? Does the vendor reach all types of professionals? Are they focused on reaching healthcare professionals, i.e., do they truly understand your audience needs? Ensure you choose a fully integrated healthcare-focused vendor who understands your audience well and accesses and validates them through technology and not just manual processes. 

These five elements are important to take into consideration when choosing an agile healthcare market research partner. When you finally choose the right agile vendor for you, keep in mind that each one will still have nuances for how they approach agile and how to work best with their service teams. You may have different service levels to choose from, allowing you a more hands-on approach or more guided approach. These decisions are yours. But keep in mind the five considerations above and remember that life science expertise paired with compliant technology and high-quality data yields the optimal mix and makes the difference when choosing between quick and dirty or fast and clean. Knowing this, you will certainly find the right fit to meet your needs and budgetary requirements. 

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