I came across a great research paper highlighting the importance of properly designing a research study. Therefore, I thought I’d share some words for those interested in consulting in research design.
Welcome to Digital Nomad Physicians if you are new here. The OGs of this site will be familiar with my work as a healthcare consultant and the many articles I’ve written on the topic.
What I enjoy about consulting is that it allows me to use my brain instead of repeating outdated clinical algorithms for patients.
Healthcare consulting is a good way to make anywhere from $70 – $500 per hour by sharing my expertise with key decision-makers.
My current consulting client is a medical device company in the sleep apnea space. We found each other on Upwork, and it’s been a great relationship so far, and I’m billing them $150 per hour.
Most research studies are garbage. They are designed by non-clinicians and funded by industry, who expect a very specific outcome.
If we continue down this path, we’ll just have a bunch of meta-analyses where garbage in = garbage out.
Fortunately, and unfortunately, there are plenty of private companies getting into the research game, and through technology, they can perform research studies for less than what it used to cost.
Consulting in Research Design
To be an effective research design consultant, you must be able to differentiate a good study from a bad one. A good place to start would be to listen and read the work by Dr. Prasad.
It’s also important to choose a niche field and expand from there. It could be digital health or data or microbiology, etc.
One important and necessary niche is helping larger medical groups use their existing data to design research that is cost-effective and clinically meaningful.
To be a consultant, it’s helpful to follow others who are experts at dissecting research studies. Remember, those who can dissect a study may not be good at designing it and vice versa.
You don’t need to be the world expert on research design to consult on research design.
1. Develop a Critical Eye
When you read a study, ask yourself what makes it good or bad and how you would have designed the study to make it better.
Specifically, what are actionable steps based on this research study and what other questions could this study have answered if it was designed better?
2. Publish Your Findings
To gain traction, it’s necessary to verbalize and communicate your impressions and opinions publicly. This isn’t always pleasant, but the feedback you’ll get is invaluable.
I don’t always have the softest tone but I try to be open-minded and kind in communicating things. A little humble pie goes a long way.
3. Reach out to Potential Clients
Now that you know what makes for a good study design to become a consultant, you need to reach out to potential clients and pitch ideas.
At the very least, you can ask what studies they are currently investigating and whether you could offer your input.
After several successful attempts, I have enough courage to charge for my work.
4. Connect with Fellow Experts
I’m terrible at this but I’m getting better. Reaching out to fellow experts is intimidating and time-consuming but it’s a high-yield endeavor.
Sometimes you can bounce ideas off these individuals and other time you can bring them in on larger projects. It never hurts to have good friends and colleagues around.