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Medical surveys can be a nice way to earn some extra cash just by providing your opinions or experiences. The nice thing about these is that they can be done on your own terms, without any commitments, and in relatively small periods of time. The payment per minute varies dramatically, so look at the specifics of each opportunity before deciding if it's worth your time. Keep in mind this is taxable income (but therefore, earnings can be used to fund self-employed retirement accounts, for example!). There are many companies out there - some of the ones that members of the group have had success with are listed in our resources section below.
We have partnered with the following companies to help provide you with medical survey opportunities to explore:
What are physician market research surveys, and why do them?
Market research surveys are a (paid!) way for you to provide your insight to companies that could use your opinions about medications, medical devices, or other things related to your expertise as a physician. The nicest part about this side gig is that it's totally flexible, comes without obligations, and you don't need any special new skills or equipment. Companies need physician input and they will contract with these market research companies to reach large groups of physicians and get aggregate data. You can feel good about having an impact on the way that these companies make decisions, and hopefully ultimately, patient care.
After you sign up with physician survey companies by providing your contact information and verifying that you are a physician, you will be on their list of potential participants. When they get a survey that meets your qualifications, they will send you an email that tells you what the study is, how long they anticipate it will take, and what the compensation will be (as a side note, we feel very strongly about not doing the 'enter for a chance to win' type surveys, as we feel it devalues physician time to get hundreds of options and only pay one person while the rest work for free). If you have the time and feel the compensation is worth it, you will click on the link and go through a screening process. If you qualify, you'll go on to complete the study. It really is that easy.
Getting Paid for Medical Surveys
How much does market research work pay? What do I need to know about payments, taxes, and tax benefits?
This varies depending on several factors, including specialty, the length of the survey and anticipated time to complete the survey, how hard it is for the company to find physicians with the right qualifications, what the format of the survey is (on the computer, over the phone, or in person), amongst other things. Generally, though, payment will be between $1-6/minute for the computer surveys. Compensation can go up significantly for more consultation-type requests. Some physicians do a lot of surveys and make a 5 figure amount per year, while for others it's just occasional bonus money.
Companies will generally have different options for payout including cash or gift cards. Some will pay out right away at completion of the study, while others wait for a few weeks. As always, all income is taxable, but if you generate $600 or more doing surveys with any single company, per IRS regulations, the company will ask for your tax information and send you a 1099. As this is self-employed income, it allows you to do things like open up a solo401k or take deductions on tools necessary for you to complete surveys. Check out our primer page on taxes and talk to your accountant about what's appropriate and what's not.
I got screened out of a survey after spending time doing the screener. Do I get paid for that time?
This is probably our most frequent complaint. Unfortunately, industry-wide, these companies are given very specific criteria for who they are supposed to recruit for a given study, and that can lead to an annoying screening process where you may answer questions for a few minutes and then be told that you didn't qualify for the survey. You could get screened out because you haven't been in practice long enough, because you don't see certain patient demographics, because you don't prescribe certain medications or use certain devices, because you practice in the wrong type of setting, or because they've already filled the quota for physicians with similar characteristics as you, amongst others. While some companies have started enacting mechanisms to make sure your time isn't totally wasted like offering a smaller honorarium or points towards something, unfortunately it's still more often that you essentially will be told thanks for your time, and that they'll contact you again in the future. If this will be very frustrating for you, you may not want to sign up. One thing that you can do to try and increase your chances of qualifying is to attempt the survey ASAP after getting the email, as it would decrease the likelihood that buckets/quotas for physicians with demographics similar will be full.
Getting More Survey Opportunities
I signed up, but I don't get very many surveys. What gives? How do I get more?
How many surveys you will get does tend to vary amongst specialties. Specialties where there are lots of trials, clinical research, and/or medical devices in development tend to get a lot of surveys. Other specialties don't get as many, or the surveys may be more seasonal or dependent on current events. It doesn't cost you anything to sign up, so if you want to get more surveys you should increase your chances by signing up for more companies. This is also good because every market research company has a set of clients that they have relationships with, and some may have more contacts in certain fields than others, so feel free to ask on the Physician Side Gigs group what companies others in your specialty have had good luck with. The other pointer is that companies know who is taking them up on doing the surveys, and the more surveys that you do, the more that you tend to get.
The Sunshine Act
Is this like working for pharmaceutical companies? Will my honoraria get reported per the Sunshine Act?
Generally speaking, the experience of our members has been that this will not be reported on publicly searchable databases, as your identifying information is not generally attached to the data you provide to the company that has contracted with the market research company. Because of this intermediary, it is not generally considered a payment from a pharmaceutical company. Nonetheless, if this is a concern for you, ask them first, particularly in cases where you feel there's less anonymity (phone or in person consultations, etc). We are not lawyers and cannot guarantee what rules may be applied to an individual opportunity.