FAQ

How does SHC determine FMV rates?

SHC does not determine FMV rates; we adhere to FMV rates given to us by our clients.

The issue of determining useful fair market value (FMV) rates for market research honoraria is complex and tends to complicate the market research process. Before manufacturers were required to adhere to FMV, market research honoraria was determined based on supply and demand of study respondents and therefore was solely dependent on the required sample size for a research engagement. Today, in many cases, there is no real relationship between FMV and the market-based honoraria rates needed to complete research studies at scale. This gap between market-based and FMV-based honoraria has the potential to strip market research of its predictive power and create risk for key manufacturer initiatives.

Market research is valuable because findings are based on a representative sample of a target population and can therefore be extrapolated across the entire target universe. Sample sizes and ratios need to be relatively large. However, we find that FMV rates are often set for non-market research interactions (ex. advisory boards, consulting engagements, etc.) that are not meant to be statistically significant and therefore require a much smaller number of participating HCPs. This artificially depresses the honoraria amounts market research agencies can offer participating HCPs. For example, if a manufacturer only requires a small sample size and there are no issues that complicate the study (such as a low HCP qualifying rates like those found in niche targets) we can generally use FMVs as provided by manufacturers. Unfortunately, for a typical quantitative study, this this is rarely the case.

To determine appropriate honoraria levels, market research agencies have historically used sophisticated statistical models designed to ensure significance. Specifically, agencies determine honoraria by creating a ‘record to recruit’ ratio that is dependent on the qualified universe a client requires (the healthcare universe being targeted multiplied by incidence) and dividing that by the required N size for this study. The higher the number of HCPs in the universe, the lower the honorarium necessary to garner an appropriate response at the study sample size. Conversely, the lower the number of HCPs in the universe, the higher the honoraria necessary to garner an appropriate response at the study sample size. This ‘record to recruit’ ratio calculation directly informs the honoraria levels agencies offer for market research participation. Honoraria rates would also differ based on the amount of a population (specialty) available within the HCP universe. For example, the honoraria for a Primary Care Physician (215k US population size) will be much lower than that of an Oncologist (11k US population size of Medical and Hematological Oncologists).

We will attempt any study at a client’s FMV rates with the caveat that those rates, if set too low, will decrease the sample size that can be delivered. We also point clients toward the recent BHBIA Response Rate Task force white paper, which SHC contributed to, since it is instructive in understanding the current state of market research with HCPs. While it does not address FMV directly, it does address honoraria as a key driver that affects physicians’ willingness to take part in market research.

How does SHC handle compliance with regulations specific to a particular US state?

SHC currently excludes Maine and Vermont on all our studies. SHC put this rule in place as an internal measure to ensure compliance with regulations when Maine passed LD 911 (July 2017). This covers any respondent that would enter a study – through SHC or partners. If SHC has a state of practice on file for a particular respondent, they are routed directly into the main survey. However, if, in the case we use partners, we would ask respondents a state question before they enter your survey to ensure we do not allow Maine or Vermont respondents in the survey.
We will default to the above unless otherwise directed by our clients as they are typically the arbiter in situations like this. Below is a current synopsis of all of the laws across the US in regards to physician payments. We are actively managing this via our compliance team (a third party entity) and via our membership with industry organizations.

California:
S.B. 790 – Per Insights Association Government Affairs webinar on July 25, 2017

  • Bill would ban most payments from pharmaceutical industry to health care providers
  • Insights Association hired Sacramento firm, mobilized grassroots
  • Passed Senate, and House committee
  • IA amendment exempts respondent incentives for blinded MR
  • Sponsor redrafting bill to counter opposition

As of June 22 (last update from the Insights Association).

Maine:

LD 911 (HP 639) – Per press release from the Insights Association on July 20, 2017

Maine LD 911 (HP 639) became law, without the governor’s signature, on June 28, 2017, effectively making the Pine Tree State off-limits for pharmaceutical marketing research with doctors. New Sec. 1. 32 MRSA §13759 within the Maine Pharmacy Act prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers (or their agents) from offering or giving a “cash gift in any amount” or a “gift for which reciprocity is expected or implied” to a health care practitioner. While there are a handful of carveouts for education and related expenses (minor meals in conjunction with education), there are no exemptions for consulting or research. The law even lacks the bill’s earlier exemption for cash/costs under $50. Although the Insights Association explained to the sponsor and committee leaders both why respondent incentives are not gifts and are not part of influencing practitioners’ decision making, and offered an amendment like the one we successfully won in California to S.B. 790, Maine toughened LD 911 and rushed it into law with no clear protections for marketing research. Maine used to be a no-go state for pharma MR with doctors, thanks to a Sunshine-style law requiring the reporting of expenses for marketing to Maine physicians (which the regulator interpreted to include marketing research). Pharmaceutical companies treated that law as a de facto ban. With our endorsement, the legislature repealed the law in 2011. This new law appears to have turned the clock back dramatically. The Insights Association will now have to lobby the Maine Board of Pharmacy to clarify that respondent incentives for doctors participating in pharmaceutical marketing research are not included in Maine’s new ban. Until we get such a clarification, marketing researchers should assume that Maine’s health care practitioners are off-limits for pharma-sponsored studies involving respondent incentives.

Vermont:
Physician incentives are prohibited outright in the state of Vermont.

  • Act No. 51 (2011) amendment to: Sec. 1. 18 V.S.A. § 4631a and Section 4632: VT Statute

Minnesota:
Exempts physician respondent incentives from their outright ban on all gifts:

  • “If they make payments to a market research company; the research is done in a ‘blinded’ fashion-with the research company selecting the participants and the manufacturer never knowing which practitioners participated; and the market research company sets the rates and pays the practitioners that do participate. Ideally, the practitioners who participated would also not know which manufacturer had funded the study. In that scenario, the manufacturer has made no direct payments to the practitioner, the manufacturer does not know who participated and the practitioner does not know from whence the funds came.”
  • MN Statutes Sections 151.461, 151.47 (1993): MN Statute1 and MN Statute2
  • Unpublished letter guidance from Board of Pharmacy (2010): MN Guidance from Board of Pharmacy

Massachusetts:
Exempts research activities from the reporting requirement if:

  • A pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company (PMDMC) hires an market research company, AND
  • Health care practitioners are paid an honorarium by the market research company, AND
  • The pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company does not know which health care practitioners participated in the study, AND
  • The health care practitioner does not know what pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company was involved.
  • General Laws of Mass. Part I Title XVI Chapter 111N (2008) : MA Statute
  • 105 CMR 970.000 (2009): MA Regulation
  • MA FAQ

Washington, DC:
Has an exemption for payments to health care providers for participation in marketing research, if:

  • the market research is conducted by an independent survey research organization;
  • the pharmaceutical client does not know the identity of the practitioners who participate in the research; and
  • the payments are determined and made directly by the survey research organization.
  • DC ST Section 48-833.01, 833.02, 833.03 [2004]: DC Statute
  • Department of Health Regulations Title 22 Chapter 18 Amendment: DC Regulation Amendment (Note: to access the DC regulation amendment click “View Text” in the row labeled “Final Rulemaking”)

What are you doing to ensure Healthcare respondent quality globally?

SHC Panel Validation and Sampling Frame

SHC samples from a population of 2 million plus physicians and allied healthcare professionals. We regularly update and validate our sample from standard core sources including the AMA, hospital books/directories, medical directories and verified healthcare internet sites as original sample sources. All new respondents who we reach out to must double opt-in before they can be considered for our community. Once they complete the initial enrollment process they are placed in a verification queue where the data the submitted is verified to be accurate. Verification sources include state license records, directories, publicly available verified healthcare portals as well as the AMA database for physicians. In addition, we request and collect copies of medical credentials and call enrollees to verify them.

Once they are verified, they are activated within the community and are now eligible to take surveys. We also use IP address information to verify our panelists. We use Geolocation to ensure IP addresses are in the expected geographies and flag those respondents whose IP information is outside of expectation. We can provide de-identified IP data if required.

We profile our respondents on a regular basis to update and refine our targeting capabilities. As a rule we maintain name, address, phone, email, as well as our 140 data points obtained through profiling surveys. We also maintain survey history. Updating of personal information happens in a variety of ways including:

Continuous self-administered updates: Panelists have access to an online community portal where they can update their personal information at any time, on demand.

Automatically: date information such as Year Qualified/Date of Birth is collected in a day/month/year format so as to remain accurate overtime.
Re-screening respondents by e-mail or phone via our community profiling initiatives.

Generally, SHC does not restrict participation to a set number of studies, but can exclude respondents who have participated within a given time frame. This is often discussed with the client during the bidding stage of the project and is contingent on the universe, sample size and market in which the research is being conducted.

Finally, a minimum of 10% of recruits are randomly audited and monitored. We also monitor for bad/poor responders as well as speeders. Monitoring occurs over their first 3-5 studies. In addition, if any complaints are raised, at any time, from our clients in regards to data quality we immediately move to remove the respondent from the panel, thus making them ineligible for any future studies. Although we validate our panelists in the best possible method, there are some respondents who simply are not good at answering surveys. We accept this business fact while actively working to minimize its impact on clients. The amount of delivered respondents that our clients have raised questions about is less than .05%, or fewer than 1 in 2000 interviews completed.

EU Panel Creation:

SHC’s EU panel was acquired in May of 2015. The asset that was acquired has been used since 2008 for custom recruitment efforts for major data collection and market research firms as well as directly with direct manufacturers. The panel was created using targeted hospital directories and calling into the place of work (hospital/clinic) to recruit respondents. Only hospital books and directories, medical directories and yellow pages were used as original sample sources and the recruiters are/were all native speakers who have an insight into their countries healthcare systems, cultures and markets. In most cases the bespoke recruitment is done on a project specific basis when we have a market research study available in which we will find the targeted specialty from the directory, ask them 2 to 3 of the main screening questions from the survey, collect email/contact details and their consent to be emailed. After the collection of the email and contact details respondents are sent to the market research survey, answer a few opt in questions to start and then are redirected to the main survey to complete it (inclusive of our client’s full online screener). Upon completion of the respondents first study the respondent is offered the opportunity to enroll in the community- 70% of respondents custom recruited choose to enroll. In addition to the panel acquisition we have strategically added to the panel using the same phone to web bespoke recruitment methodology since 2015.

All respondents who enroll in the community go through a double opt in process as well as an additional validation by our community management team. This includes sending a copy of personal proof of credentials that only the actual respondent would have such as a medical school diploma, a healthcare facility entry card etc. SHC Universal has a stringent verification process in order to confirm a respondent’s practicing status. These verification resources include 100% of background data being checked and verified against the American Medical Association Register (AMA) in the US and medical directories in the EU. 100% of telephone recruitment calls are/were recorded and a minimum of 10% of recruits are randomly audited and monitored. We also monitor for potentially bad/poor responders as well as speeders. After validation and enrollment, respondents are monitored over their first three to five studies to ensure there are no complaints from our clients in regards to data quality. If a respondent receives a data quality complaint of any sort we immediately move to remove the respondent from the panel, thus making them ineligible for any future studies. Although we validate our panelists in the best possible method, there are some respondents who simply are not good at answering surveys. We accept this business fact while actively working to minimize its impact on clients. The amount of delivered respondents that our clients have raised questions about is less than .05%, or fewer than 1 in 2000 interviews completed.

How do you vet the partner panels that you use?

All partners go through a 4 stage vetting process (described below).

When we bring on any partner source we have a 4 tier vetting process with them including the following:

  1. Scoping call/Introductions
    1. We would look at capabilities decks, marketing collateral, reviews, associations and ISO certifications in understanding if we should move further to discuss partnering
  2. Once we have deem they meet our tertiary level of vetting, we would ask for CVs for key members for review
    1. We vet the CVs to ensure that they have worked, mainly, direct with Pharma and ideally have technical experience in the field
  3. After vetting the actual key people, we have a sample project (if possible) done, for example a research on research project we sponsor. Typically these are our community satisfaction surveys, profiling or other ancillary business needs outside of paid client work
    1. If this is not available then we would stratify sample with other samples to ensure that it matches or performs in similar nature as other sampling strategies
  4. Lastly, we conduct a technical test, so that they can work within our paradigm and within our market research timeframes. Some of this is already done in the test project

After the vetting, we have the partners sign NDA documentation, which binds them to practice within the guidelines we follow.

As you can see, we have a very thorough process here that we undertake in regards to partners. This process has been created based on SHC’s collective fieldwork expertise and experience which has delivered the needed high quality results.

Our goal is to allow our clients not have to worry about the data collection and focus on their key value add – the analytics and insights derived for their clients. As I like to say, we want our clients to enjoy the sausage, not have to worry about it is made as here at SHC we only use high quality items in our sausages!

Do you use Captcha for Healthcare studies? (All of them? Some of them? Never?)

Yes, we use Captcha on our registration survey process but we do not actively use it on our regular surveys. We can put this in place if you require this however utilizing our proprietary technology AuthenticID will avoid fraudulent activity. Click here to view our write up on AuthenticID and a thought piece on deduplication.

Can we routinely get a list of all partners that you are using for our studies? When you add another partner let the PD know who you are adding so we have that as a reference just in case we are asked in the future?

Yes, we are more than happy to disclose this for you and let your team know when we are doing this on your behalf. We are more than happy to be candid about our approach as our key is for you to avoid having to worry about the data collection and just focus on the research.

If you don’t have NPI for 100% of respondents, how do you validate the doctors are actual doctors?

Validation is a cross between NPI but we also utilize AMA as well as medical directories/insurance sites. In the US validation is primarily via NPI and AMA as the two main sources.

Esomar

What experience does your company have with providing online samples for market research?

SHC was founded in 1997 and has been growing ever since. Today, we are over 60 full time employees with offices in New York, Idaho and London. SHC’s philosophy is based on the ideal of providing the most accurate and cost effective access to the ecosystem of healthcare professionals and their patients for comprehensive market knowledge to affect health outcomes.

We are a client-focused, operations-centered organization, and work proactively to uncover new opportunities and build solutions. We are committed to quality data collection and client satisfaction with each project we undertake. SHC, with our dedicated client teams, works as your partner and as a true extension of your organization. Our White Coats ask smart questions, listen and understand in order to provide unparalleled value, support and service. Our reputation is built on our quality, driven by daily reviews of every study with senior team members’ involvement, in all aspects of our client engagements.

Please describe and explain the type(s) of online sample sources from which you get respondents. Are these databases? Actively managed research panels? Direct marketing list? Social networks? Web intercept (also known as river) samples?

When we started in the data collection business, SHC “empaneled” respondents for surveys because so few had internet access and email addresses. Currently, since most respondents have email addresses and internet access, we have built a multi-mode ‘access’ system which is better statistically, quicker, and more cost efficient to sample respondents across an entire sample frame.

Our Network goes beyond a traditional actively managed panel (nurtured community). Rather, we sample from a population of 2 million plus. We regularly update and validate our sample from standard core sources including the AMA, hospital books/directories, medical directories and verified healthcare internet sites as original sample sources. We also add, update, verify and validate information utilizing bespoke telephone recruitment. As we add and update records, we ask potential respondents if they would like to participate in surveys (opt-in). From here, we verify and validate, and require that they opt-in again (double opt-in). For those that don’t opt-in, or we cannot reach them directly, we keep their information on file and seek to add/update their information at other times. We have a stringent sampling procedure in place, linked with our panel management system, ensuring a representative demographic sample based on the universe being researched.

If you provide samples for more than one source: How are the different sample sources blended together to ensure validity? How can this be replicated over time to provide reliability? How do you deal with the possibility of duplication of respondents across sources?

At times SHC blends our own panel with others. To this end we have developed our own in house technology called “The Hub”. “The Hub” enables us to de-duplicate both within and across sources and enables SHC to ensure that appropriately stratified samples can be replicated over time. In addition, SHC institutes a variety of validation techniques including proxy server detection, IP address verification, past survey participation history, survey time testing, and use of unique survey links on each and every survey. We employ the industry standard of Relevant ID.

If the sample source is a panel or database, is the panel or database used solely for market research, if not please explain.

Yes, our community is utilized solely for market research.

How do you source groups that may be hard-to-reach on the internet?

We obtain our sample from standard core sources mentioned previously, as well as utilize our multi- mode recruitment practices, in order to maximize sample from hard to reach groups such as Healthcare Professionals (HCP). Our sampling model is a bit unorthodox as compared to the general marketplace as we do not just look at our community population, its response rate and the estimated survey incidence – although all three play a role – but rather we identify the total universe available and what can we deliver from it. Our sampling techniques are based on the qualified universe we have available compared to the quota that is required. We utilize our proprietary recruitment ratio best practices to effectively determine what is possible given our clients’ research requirements utilizing our multi- mode approach.

If, on a particular project, you need to supplement your sample(s) with sample(s) from other providers, how do you select those partner? Is it your policy to notify a client in advance when using a third party provider?

SHC has one of the largest medical market research communities so we can routinely meet all the needs of our clients from our internal asset. SHC is often approached by other firms to help them complete quota as a top up service. When required, and with full transparency with our clients, we will supplement with samples from other providers. When this is the case, our partner providers are held to the same vigorous standards we hold ourselves to in regards to data quality. In these circumstances, SHC would utilize our proprietary “The Hub” technology, industry standard Relevant ID and industry standard non technological practices to ensure deduplication.

All of our partners are verified to ensure they abide by the Codes of Conduct/Guidelines of CASRO, the MRA, ESOMAR, BHBIA, PMRG and PBIRG in all market research activities/practices. All partners must pass our four-step vetting process and are held to the same high quality standards to which our clients expect and we ourselves guarantee, in terms of data quality and customer service.

What steps do you take to achieve a representative sample of the target population?

The sample is selected for each study based on the study specifications provided by the client. We do, however, have procedures within our panel management system to control both the quality and timing of the sample released. When designing our sampling frame, we are careful to prepare a randomly selected sample to insure the outgoing sample mirrors the universe of the study targets. We also suggest releasing the sample in stages and within an appropriate fielding period, so that even the hard to reach are given an opportunity to participate. Samples can be deployed in waves, and can be controlled by time zone, geography (regions, DMAs, postal codes, etc.), and by other means as available, and requested by the client.

Do you employ a survey router?

SHC does not employ a survey router for its healthcare professional research.

If you use a router: Please describe the allocation process within your router. How do you decide which surveys might be considered for a respondent? On what priority basis are respondents allocated to surveys?

SHC does not employ a survey router for its healthcare professional research.

If you use a router: What measures do you take to guard against, or mitigate, any bias arising from employing a router? How do you measure and report any bias?

SHC does not employ a survey router for its healthcare professional research.

If you use a router: Who in your company sets the parameters of the router? Is it a dedicated team or individual project managers?

SHC does not employ a survey router for its healthcare professional research.

What profiling data is held on respondents? How is it done? How does this differ across sample sources? How is it kept up-to-date? If no relevant profiling data is held, how are low incidence projects dealt with?

We profile our respondents on a regular basis to update and refine our targeting capabilities. As a rule we maintain name, address, phone, email, as well as our 140 data points obtained through profiling surveys. We also maintain survey history. Updating of personal information happens in a variety of ways including:

  • Continuous self-administered updates: Panelists have access to an online community portal where they can update their personal information at any time on demand.
  • Automatically: date information such as Year Qualified/Date of Birth is collected in a day/month/year format so as to remain accurate overtime.
  • Re-screening respondents by e-mail or phone via our community profiling initiatives.

Please describe your survey invitation process. What is the proposition that people are offered to take part in surveys? What information about the project itself is given in the process? Apart from direct invitations to specific surveys (or to a router), what other means of invitation to surveys are respondents exposed to? You should note that not all invitations to participate take the form of emails.

Respondents are invited to participate in a survey through an email, fax or telephone invitation. The invitation always alerts the respondent to the survey topic, length, honorarium amount and survey link. If there is any part of the survey that requires additional guidance, that information is included in the invitation. Respondents are alerted that their survey responses are confidential and provided in aggregate, unless they give us their explicit permission to release their individual answers. Every email invitation sent from SHC complies with guidelines and rules set forth by the major Market Research associations we belong.

Please describe the incentives that respondents are offered for taking part in your surveys. How does this differ by sampling source, by interview length, by respondent characteristics?

Panel members receive an honorarium in the form of cash equivalent credit upon completion of the survey. Respondents can use these cash equivalent credits to redeem for many types of incentives provided within our reward catalogue – from PayPal/Check to online gift cards, such as Amazon and ITunes. Our reward catalogue serves our community by allowing a variety of valued rewards defined by country of residence. The size of the cash equivalent credit depends on the type of respondent, incidence, length of survey and other qualifying criteria.

What information about a project do you need in order to give an accurate estimate of feasibility using you own resources?

SHC works with clients to determine exactly how many respondents can be delivered for the specialty/respondent type requested. Generally our clients will provide us with expected incidence, length of interview, research approach, geography (ies) and quota required for SHC to determine an accurate estimate for feasibility. Our sampling model is a bit unorthodox as compared to the general marketplace as we do not just look at our community population, its response rate and the estimated survey incidence – although all three play a role – but rather we identify the total universe available and what can we deliver from it. Our sampling techniques are based on the qualified universe we have available compared to the quota that is required. We utilize our proprietary recruitment ratio best practices to effectively determine what is possible given our clients’ research requirements utilizing our multi-mode approach.

As we have over 2 million community members available, we can often achieve the sample sizes requested. As a standard practice we will always provide guidance as to what is feasible based on the size of the particular universe and/or the goals of the research engagement required.

Do you measure respondent satisfaction? Is this information made available to clients?

We make a very strong effort to keep our panel members satisfied. Even though we cannot control their experience within a particular survey, we respond to all requests for assistance within 48 hours of notice. We periodically run a community satisfaction survey in order to ensure panelist satisfaction. In 2015, we revamped our panel management system in which we invested in a holistic dedicated panel management team in order to ensure maximum satisfaction within our community. Through this dedicated team, panelists are provided detailed instructions on how to contact our panel management team at any time to provide feedback, and to seek technical assistance with a survey or any other panel-related concern. In addition to outbound communications with our community, we also maintain a portal for all members in which we have additional FAQs and information for their on demand reference. Additionally, we pay close attention to project related data and member comments regarding the survey and incentive. Respondent satisfaction data is considered proprietary, and is only shared with a client should any issue arise with a specific project.

What information do you provide to debrief your client after the project has finished?

Keeping the client informed is a hallmark of SHC. At the end of each project we provide all information that is relevant to the study dependent on the services requested by our client. Information often requested includes size of sample deployed, number that dropped out, incidence rates, number of completes, screen outs by question number and survey length. This information is provided to the client on an ongoing basis throughout the field period as part of our standard operating procedure. In addition to project level data we routinely conduct debrief meetings with our clients to understand how the research presentation was received, as well as review specific projects to ensure that we can always learn and adapt to ensure we meet every need of our client(s) on an ongoing basis. SHC’s number one goal is client satisfaction and we will do all that is necessary to guarantee this satisfaction.

Who is responsible for data quality checks? If it is you, do you have in place procedures to reduce or eliminate undesired within survey behaviors, such as (a) random responding, (b) illogical or inconsistent responding, (c) overuse of item non-response (e.g. “Don’t Know”) or (d) speeding (too rapid survey completion)? Please describe these procedures.

We are dedicated to increasing the quality of our internal processes. Our management team is trained to continuously improve the quality of our systems. We have put together a detailed workflow process from receipt of the RFP through the completion of a study. As a data collection company we do not design the survey instrument and often are only asked to recruit respondents to a survey programmed by others. If we are programming and hosting the survey, we rely on survey programming to guard against straight-lining and loss of concentration, and regularly advise our clients on implanting these verification measures within the survey programming. We also request client feedback on each and every study in order to remove respondents not providing legitimate data so as to never again use these members. Some of our specific data quality measures are highlighted below:

  • Relevant ID – sophisticated digital fingerprinting technology that ensures same device is utilized only once per project (http://www.imperium.com/services/relevantid-digital-fingerprinting.php)
  • Flat lining – we can flag or terminate respondents in a grid question if same rating is provided. It’s suggested to employ when there are 10+ attributes to be rated, but logic can be added for any number of attributes.
  • Focus trap – we can flag or terminate respondents in a question if instructions are not being followed. Usually in questions where there are 10+ attributes are shown, we insert ‘for quality assurance please enter rating 3 for this row’ as one of the instructions. This will ensure that respondents are carefully reading through each question.
  • Minimum LOI – we can flag or terminate respondents if length of interview falls below the minimum threshold instructed by client at different points in the survey.
  • Custom checks – we can employ any additional or requested checks when provided specific guidelines by our clients.
  • Programming QA –The first step in our programming protocol is a thorough review of the questionnaire. The Programmer reviews all logic, skip patterns, design flow, content consistency, etc. All questions from this review are brought up to the client during the kick-off call. Once all questions are answered, the Programmer carefully scripts the survey. When all programming is completed, it is the Programmer’s responsibly to run through the survey numerous times to ensure all skip patterns/scripts/logic are working correctly, with a goal to deliver an error-free link. When the Programmer is done, the survey link, along with latest version of questionnaire, is sent to a separate Quality Assurance (QA) team member, who independently checks the survey for accuracy. Feedback from the QA person is passed back to the Programmer for survey adjustments, if any are required. At this stage, the Programmer sends a survey test link to the Project Manager noting that hidden screens are shown (and clearly marked on page) along with the BACK button and question IDs. This is purposely done so the tester is able to see if respondents are being placed into correct quota groups, scripts are executing correctly, background calculations are accurate, etc. After our internal QA process is complete, the program is sent to our client to review and approve prior to launch. Multi-language surveys are also checked for translation overlay quality in a similar fashion.
  • Soft Launch QA – Typically with internally programmed surveys. This step is vital in ensuring that the data is being collected as required/assumed. We use this period to attain 10% of our client’s desired quota and vigorously check the data quality to ensure all data is being collected as expected. We also provide this data to our client(s) to review and comment, in case we want to make tweaks to the look/feel of the data layout or tweak the data output format to allow a more efficient analysis on their end

How often can the same individual be contacted to take part in a survey within a specified period whether they respond to the contact or not? How does this vary across your sample sources?

As a general rule we do not limit contacts due to the varying demands from our numerous clients as well as looking for highly specialized respondents. Communications vary according to country and specialty. On average, panel members are contacted one to three times per month for GP/FP/PCP’s and occasionally more regularly, for specialists where the universe sizes are more limited in size.

How often can the same individual take part in a survey within a specified period? How does this vary across your sample sources? How do you manage this within categories and/or time periods?

The answer to this question is often dictated by the group we are recruiting, as well as dictated by the client. SHC does not restrict participation to a set number of studies, but can exclude respondents who have participated within a given time frame. This is often discussed with the client during the bidding stage of the project and is contingent on the universe, sample size and market in which the research is being conducted.

Do you maintain individual level data such as recent participation history, date of entry, source, etc., on your survey respondents? Are you able to supply your client with a project analysis of such individual level data?

Yes, we maintain participant and project level data on all respondents and are able to provide this to our clients as requested.

Do you have a confirmation of respondent identity procedure? Do you have procedures to detect fraudulent respondents? Please describe these procedures as they are implemented at a sample source registration and/or at the point of entry to a survey or router. If you offer B2B samples what are the procedures there, if any?

We have a number of procedures for ensuring quality. All new respondents must double opt-in before they can be considered for our community. Once they complete the enrollment process they are placed in a verification queue where the enrollment data is verified to be accurate. Verification sources include the public internet, the AMA database, and state license records. We will also collect copies of medical credentials and call enrollees to verify them. Once they are verified they are activated within the community and are now eligible to take surveys. We also use IP address information to verify our panelists. We use Geolocation to ensure IP addresses are in the expected geographies and flag those respondents whose IP information is outside of expectation. We can provide de-identified IP data if required.

Please describe the ‘opt-in for market research’ processes for all your online sample sources.

Respondents are asked to opt-in to participate in market research. All new respondents must double opt-in before they can be considered for our community. Once they complete the enrollment process they are placed in a verification queue where the enrollment data is verified to be accurate. Verification sources include AMA, hospital books/directories, medical directories verified healthcare internet sites and state license records. We will also collect copies of medical credentials and call enrollees to verify them. If a respondent accepts, then they are asked to provide their preferred method of contact (email, phone, fax or regular mail). Their contact information is validated and verified as stated above.

Please provide a link to your Privacy Policy. How is your Privacy Policy provided to your respondents?

Respondent privacy is very important to SHC and our policies and practices relating to the management of personal information is readily available to respondents here. Before or at the time of collecting personal information, we will identify the purposes for which information is being collected. We will collect and use personal information solely with the objective of fulfilling those purposes specified and for other compatible purposes. SHC obtains the explicit consent of the individual concerned as required by local laws, regulations, guidelines and dictated by the code of conducts/guidelines that we abide as members of CASRO, the MRA, ESOMAR, BHBIA, PMRG and PBIRG in all our of market research activities/practices.

Please describe the measures you take to ensure data protection and data security.

SHC has a number of procedures for ensuring confidentiality and security. All communications with our data collection platforms are encrypted using SSL and we maintain a role based permission system to ensure individuals have only the minimum level of access required to perform their job functions.

We employ a three-tier firewalled architecture to prevent unauthorized activity within the system. The first layer of defense is a set of reverse proxy servers which protect our web servers from attacks. Our web servers and database servers also reside in their own separate firewalled networks. Finally, we employ a near real time back-up system where multiple backups are made each day. Data is also replicated offsite to support our disaster recovery capabilities.

What practices do you follow to decide whether online research should be used to present commercially sensitive client data or materials to survey respondents?

There is no infallible method of protecting information that is presented online. However, we do work closely with our clients when the information is perceived to be of a sensitive nature. If the survey contains any sensitive material and/or content, it is clearly mentioned in the survey invitation and where appropriate within the survey – providing panelists the opportunity to opt-out if they cannot or wish not to abide by confidentiality consents. However, ultimately, it is the client’s decision whether or not the information is too sensitive to risk disclosure.

Are you certified to any specific quality system? If so, which one(s)?

SHC adheres to several guidelines regarding quality including but not limited to CASRO, the MRA, ESOMAR, BHBIA, PMRG and PBIRG guidelines. Our management team is trained to continuously recommend and improve the quality of our systems. Where applicable SHC abides with local and national guidelines as required. For more information on these guidelines please contact your account representative.

Do you conduct online surveys with children and young people? If so, do you adhere to standards that ESOMAR provides? What other rules or standards, for example COPPA in the United States, do you comply with?

No, we do not.