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Post by intern, Logan Underwood

Market research is commonly used for new technology products (especially apps right now), consumer packaged goods products, and it’s often put to use to gauge the efficacy of service-based companies. Using techniques that include ethnographic studies (including mobile, online, and in-person), focus groups,  and in-depth interviews, market researchers are able to see what people come up with to improve products, how they use products and fill in gaps in service and delivery.

The healthcare industry provides both products and services, but market research is frequently not enough of a priority for both companies that develop technology and products for e-healthcare and healthcare providers.

Which is too bad.

The healthcare industry – at a rudimentary level – is about providing care and serving people. People are the core of the end services. At the end of the day, the most effective way to understand people is by talking to them – using qualitative market research methodologies. Many healthcare technology companies and hospitals make use of surveys, but surveys alone simply aren’t enough to get at the heart of how people search for healthcare providers, how healthcare technology and products are used and work, and what people experience while receiving care.

Here are a number of techniques that we employ in the healthcare setting to conduct people-to-people market research.

In-depth interviews in healthcare settings

In-depth interviews are one of the most common market research methodologies used in the healthcare domain. While with focus groups we interview people in a group setting, in-depth interviews are one-on-one interviews, either over the phone or in-person. They can last anywhere as much as a hour, to as little as 20 minutes, and they allow the researcher to go into more detail with a single participant, while looking out for the person’s privacy. Due to the sensitive nature of health topics, in-depth interviews are a wonderful format to speak to people confidentially and get their viewpoints on healthcare topics, ranging from details about their health concerns, to how they use services. In the average study, we will interview anywhere between 10-50 participants.

Focus groups in healthcare settings

The second market research methodology we use in healthcare settings is focus groups. Focus groups are exceptionally beneficial in the new product-creation stage. For example, if a product company or healthcare technology is seeking ideas from consumers (either B2C or B2B) about what to include in a new product or service, the group-brainstorming configuration of focus groups leads to input and ideation which individual interviews don’t necessarily produce. Frequently, we’ll do a hybrid study using ethnography studies and focus groups, allowing us to observe people in their natural settings, and subsequently bring a group together to further brainstorm service and product development ideas.

Ethnographic research in healthcare settings

Ethnographic research is another typical methodology used in the healthcare field. Ethnographic research can be done by employing mobile and online tools, or in-person. Adapted from sociology and anthropology, ethnographies are “field” studies that rely on interviews and observation so that we can understand how people interact with technology, use products, and use and seek out services. Because of the observational nature, the field researcher is capable of recording actions as well as participant feedback. It’s a more dependable method than recall – as people’s memories tend not to be highly accurate when recalling past events. For some studies, we may even combine customer journey mapping, where we scrutinize how people use a healthcare provider’s website, for example, in tandem with how people seek out services from providers using alternative means, such as asking friends and family members about healthcare concerns, or using phone referrals.

In “people-centered” industries, market research is a must

As the healthcare industry becomes more streamlined, specialized, and consolidated, companies are ever more looking for ways to add tailored-products and improve service. Market research – qualitative market research – relies on observation techniques and person-to-person interviews, making it the most effective way to understand how people consume and use products and services.

Interested in healthcare market research? Request a proposal today >