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All about Healthcare Market Research: The What, Why and How

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Published: Nov 3, 2021

Are you a

  • Healthcare organization?
  • Pharmaceutical company?
  • Healthcare professional with your own practice?
  • Decision maker in healthcare procurement?

Then this post is for you. 

Healthcare market research forms the base to gaining a strong reputation in the industry through a series of connected events. The data you collect in the process can help you gain a better perspective into your target market’s needs. 

However, depending on your profession, the objective of your market research may vary. For instance, a pharmaceutical company would focus on knowing the effectiveness of new products in the market. In contrast, a healthcare professional would be more interested in creating a better patient experience.

In this post, we cover everything you need to know about healthcare market research. Let’s start by understanding what market research in healthcare is.

What is healthcare market research?

Healthcare market research focuses on finding information to develop insights on providing services that benefit your patients or consumers in the best possible way. 

There are multiple techniques to arrive at these insights. We will discuss them later in this article.

Why is market research a must for the healthcare industry?

Healthcare market research is essential for multiple reasons. Most importantly, the research helps you:

  • Understand your patients’/consumers’ needs and behaviors.
  • Develop an understanding of the products and services in the industry.
  • Provide an optimal and customized service.
  • Increase your patient/consumer retention rate.
  • Expand your patient network.
  • Gain a competitive edge.

Every reason listed here is connected to one another, ultimately leading you to build trust and a stronger reputation among your patients. 

However, what should healthcare market research focus on understanding?

  • Key influential factors in the industry
  • People’s perspective towards healthcare
  • Competitive advantages
  • Emerging trends in the industry in terms of products and services
  • Effective marketing and PR tactics
  • Your patients’ satisfaction with your services
  • Patient journeys

In the process of understanding these, you’ll have to interact with different categories of people. So, what audiences should you target for market research in healthcare?

  • Product vendors
  • Industry leaders
  • Patients
  • Potential patients
  • Doctors and nurses

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the process of conducting healthcare market research.

How to conduct healthcare market research?

We have broken down the process into 3 easy steps:

  1. Understanding and defining your objectives and the target market(s).
  2. Defining the types of research you need to collect data.
  3. Determining the channels.

Let’s see each of them in detail.

1. Understand and define your objectives and the target market(s)

Although there are multiple answers to why market research in healthcare is essential, your objective can be as little as ONE. 

  • Do you want to understand your consumers’ reactions to your product?
  • Do you want to stay ahead of your competition in terms of your services?
  • Is getting more patients to your list a priority right now?

Whatever it may be, spell it out.

Also, determine the size of the target market you’re going to focus on at each stage. 

2. Define the types of research you need to collect data

There are two stages in which you’ll conduct your research: Primary and Secondary. 

Primary healthcare market research

Primary healthcare market research involves communicating with your patients and prospects directly. Here are some primary healthcare market research techniques. 

1. Online surveys

A survey in healthcare market research includes questions that revolve around understanding your existing and potential patients’ needs and behaviors. However, people prefer short surveys. So, try to get the information you need from them within 5 minutes

There are multiple mediums to conduct an online survey, such as your website, email, text messages, phone calls, etc. 

You May Also Like: What is the Right Way to Conduct Online Market Research? All the Techniques Explained

2. Personal interviews

Personal interviews can take place over the phone or in person. Similar to a survey, when it comes to an interview too, you should focus on getting all the information in the shortest time possible. 

3. Ethnography

Ethnography is a research method used to understand people’s behavior while interacting with a product or service. In healthcare market research, you can use ethnography to understand your patients’ experiences during their journey with you.  

MAXQDA is a software you can use to conduct ethnographic research. Since the approach is solely focused on observations in real-time, this is one of the most effective methods to understand your patients’ needs. 

For instance, at the end of the research, you’d have insights into the journey your patients go through before they reach you. Or the websites and vendors your customers visit before they buy your product. 

Secondary healthcare market research

Secondary healthcare market research involves gathering existing data from different sources. Here are some sources you can take the help of:

1. Industry research reports

Industry research reports give incredible amounts of information, such as the industry and market trends. 

MarketResearch.com is an example of such a source. 

This source contains information on healthcare needs and offerings in different countries. They also give information on the types of administrations, regulations, and policies that are in place. The reports are also categorized in wellness programming, alternative medicines, clinical guidelines, and more.  

2. Competitors’ websites

Your competitors’ website is an excellent place to understand where you stand compared to them and in the industry. Their annual reports are one of the ways to find these insights. 

3. Educational resources

Governmental informative sources, articles that help you improve patient care, methodology come under this category. NCBI, HealthIT.gov, Health Science Journals are some excellent examples. 

4. Determine the channels

Where are you going to conduct those surveys?

How do you want to take those interviews?

Determine a channel for each activity you need to perform, and put the required resources together. 

Here are some examples of the channels you can use:

Healthcare market research use cases

Healthcare market research can be helpful in many contexts, but for now, let’s see some of the most important ones.  

  1. Evaluating access: Discover if people from all classes have access to healthcare. For example, citizens live in the countryside.  
  2. Improving patient experience: Monitor your patients’ experience with healthcare. Consider their concerns and feedback and work on solving them. 
  3. Improving operations: Evaluate the effectiveness of your operations. You can see which part of the system needs improvement. 
  4. Understanding program-related expectations: See what kind of healthcare programs your patients need the most. Also, find out the areas you need to address in your existing programs. 
  5. Giving people a platform to share issues: When you talk to people, you’re giving them a safe platform to share the problems they go through. For example, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and more.

Get started!

Healthcare market research is ongoing. There are new inventions in the industry, and you need to keep adapting yourself: conducting market research is important before you do that. The best way is to listen to your audience, gather information, and work on creating the best experience for your patients. 

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