Research studies are happening across the country each and every day and thanks to the continued focus of scientists and researchers in the medical field to find cures and better treatment methods, this trend will only continue to climb upwards.
So, what happens when a clinical trial is slated, but there are not enough participants to fill it? Among some of the options that researchers have to find more participants is to offer incentives to doctors who are willing to refer patients to the study.
Giving doctors incentives for referring patients to studies has been a long standing argument in the clinical trial field, with some being for it and other being against it.
For the sake of this article, we will discuss how doctors can make incentives by referring patient to studies without taking one side of the coin or the other.
Why Seek Study Referrals from Physicians?
First, it is important to understand why researchers want to seek referrals for their studies from doctors. It is well known that patients look up to their doctors as a trusted source for accurate and valuable medical information.
Thanks to this special relationship between doctor and patient, doctors are in the unique position to recommend their patients to a clinical trial that they feel would benefit them. In fact, there is research that shows that most patients would rather hear about clinical trials from their physician rather than any other method of recruitment.
For many studies, they offer the referring physician and incentive for sending qualified patients there way so that they can best conduct their study.
When it comes to compensating doctors for their referrals, there are a couple of different scenarios:
Referral Fee: A referral fee is compensation paid to the doctor who identified the patient as a potentially good match for the trial and who provides information to the patient about the trial. If the patient is interested, the doctor then forwards the name of the patient to the study or gives the patient the contact information.
Compensation is then usually paid to the doctor regardless of whether or not the patient actually enrolls in the trial. This incentive is considered reimbursement for the effort done by the physician to pre-screen and connect the patient to the study.
Finder’s Fee: The other scenario involves what is called a finder’s fee. In this situation, the referring physician is paid for bringing the patient to the investigator of the clinical trial. Compensation is paid by the trial’s investigator for the doctor’s matchmaking service in exchange for the name and contact information of the patient.
While both situations offer incentives to doctors for their efforts in helping fill research studies with qualified candidates, the referral fee is indicative of the extra work that the physician puts in to ensure that the patient is a good match for the study and a willing participant.
The finder’s fee is more or less an incentive given for handing over a name with little to no research and work on the doctor’s end.