Editor's note: Gennadiy Geyler is vice president of operations at MedSurvey, a Southampton, Pa., research firm. 

Over the past 15 years, the medical market research landscape has undergone dramatic changes. As the health care field has advanced and doctors have become more specialized, pharmaceutical companies have begun to seek survey respondents who are more specialized as well. A decade ago, a typical research project might target a list of 100 oncologists, broadly defined; today, projects may target 100 oncologists who specialize in a very specific condition, work with a very specific set of devices and are affiliated with a very specific subset of medical institutions at the forefront of their fields.

As pharmaceutical companies have become increasingly interested in targeting physicians who work in niche therapeutic areas at highly specialized facilities, clients’ requirements for survey respondents have been shifting. For many years, medical market research companies have worked largely with lists of specific physicians whom their clients wish to target. However, more and more frequently, instead of just providing lists of doctors, clients are supplying lists of centers of excellence or other medical facilities and asking to target any doctors affiliated with these institutions. Conducting market research based on a list of institutions rather than just a list of specific individuals presents a unique set of challenges that the medical market research field has yet to fully address.

When presented with a list of targeted physicians, many medical market research companies take rigorous steps to verify that a given doctor is, in fact, who they say they are. Methods for doing so include a broad range of strategies, often aided by recent technological advancements. For example, robust automated processes can check the location of respondents’ IP addresses against the state in which they claim to ...