How to Conduct Healthcare Market Research Like a Pro

How to Conduct Healthcare Market Research Like a Pro

Healthcare market research is essential to providing optimal patient care, which is much needed in an industry hailed as people-centric, especially in a world rife with a pandemic. 

Market research allows healthcare industry professionals to gain a deep understanding of the needs and behaviors of their patients — the kind they otherwise wouldn’t have. Additionally, it allows practice providers to expand their patient network, and increase their patient retention rates by helping them provide products and services tailor-made to the needs of their patients.

This article expounds on how to conduct healthcare market research for healthcare market researchers.

Defining Healthcare Market Research

Market research is the process of researching the viability of a new product or service through both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources use techniques like in-depth interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic studies to understand how products are used, how they can be improved, and how they can be streamlined. 

Secondary sources involve a wide variety of research that has already been conducted such as statistics publications, scientific journal articles, and market research articles. 

Healthcare market research applies the concept of market research to the healthcare industry. Instead of gauging how products are used, healthcare industry professionals use market research to learn about how their services can better benefit patients (and how they can reach and retain more patients).

The Importance of  Conducting Healthcare Market Research

While the healthcare industry relies on services and products to keep patients healthy, market research specific to this industry is seldom conducted. 

Healthcare market research needs to be prioritized because it creates a path to better care, and this is what the healthcare industry is fundamentally all about. The best way for healthcare providers to succeed in the industry is to form a clear understanding of this target market through market research methodologies. 

Gaining access to the proper research can be a gateway to building a strong reputation, attracting more patients, garnering good reviews, and being a community go-to. As you learn more about your patients’ wants and needs, your quality of care will increase and you’ll build patient trust. 

The Makeup of Healthcare Market Research

When conducting healthcare market research, you’ll need to conduct both primary and secondary research for a holistic market research campaign. Combining these methods yields powerful insights with the potential to transform patient care.

Primary Healthcare Market Research

Primary market research in the healthcare industry involves communicating directly to existing or potential patients. You do this to learn about your target market, which gives you the ability to perform market segmentation. Dividing your patient base into narrow market segments allows you to address a specific sector of your target audience. 

You can conduct primary research using these methods: 

  1. Online Surveys
    1. Surveys include questionnaires and screeners that you can deploy to your target market via an online survey tool.
    2. A 3-minute survey will yield more responses than a 5-minute survey, so try to get the information you need in as few questions as possible.
    3. With online surveys, you can reach a specific segment of your target audience while saving time and maximizing responses. 
  2. In-depth interviews 
    1. In-depth interviews are one-on-one interviews that can happen over the phone or in person. 
    2. Time estimates range from 20 minutes to over an hour. 
    3. This intimacy and time-frame allow the researcher to get detailed feedback, as healthcare can be a sensitive topic. 
    4. Personal interviews make it easy to gather information without privacy concerns. An average study might interview 10-50 participants. 
  3. Ethnographic research in healthcare settings
    1. Ethnographies are field studies that use observation and interviews to study how people use products, interact with technology, and find/use services.
    2. Ethnographic research allows the researcher to record behavior in addition to participant feedback.
    3. It can be performed in-person or by software.
    4. While recall methods rely on participant’s memories, this real-time observational method is more reliable.
    5. Customer journey mapping can be integrated into this technique to see how patients interact with a healthcare provider's website and how they locate services from providers through phone referrals or word of mouth.
  4. Focus Groups in Healthcare Settings
    1. Focus groups are a great technique for healthcare market research, especially when a product or service is new. 
    2. The group-brainstorming format stimulates ideas and feedback that you might not be able to get out of an individual.
    3. A great healthcare marketing research method is a hybrid of focus groups and ethnography studies.
    4. This lets you observe your consumers in their natural setting before bringing them together for a brainstorming session.

Primary Healthcare Market Research

Secondary market research is the process of gathering already published data. You can speed up this process by purchasing high-quality market research reports. They provide in-depth data, statistics, and results that reveal areas and topics that need to be explored through primary research. 

Here are some secondary market research sources for the healthcare industry:

  1. Published market research reports are a great source of information. The healthcare market research section of is a great place to get started.
  2. Consumer reports and industry reports are a perfect starting point for researching target markets and trends. Visit Statista for reliable reports relevant to the healthcare industry.
  3. Healthcare provider websites, i.e., those of your competitors are often a natural starting point for market research. You can find relevant annual reports, presentations made for investors, and other information that shows you where you’re positioned in your field and what areas you need to focus on with your primary market research.
  4. NCBI is full of secondary research information pertaining to patient care. 
  5. UpToDate is a medical resource providing clinical decision support that’s been proven to improve patient care
  6. BMC Health Services Research offers a collection of journal articles on topics relating to healthcare practices like policy, the health workforce, health services research methodology, protocol, and more. 
  7. Census data can also be helpful in exploring demographic information.

Tips for Healthcare Market Research Surveys 

Healthcare market research surveys are nothing without responses. Follow these tips to boost your response rates:

  1. Target Your Population: Choose a target population relevant to your survey goals. If this population is hard to reach, consider using software to find survey takers who meet your criteria.
  2. Prioritize Question Clarity: Keep your questions simple with the least number of steps possible. The easier your survey, the more responses you’ll get.
  3. Be Mindful of Survey Length: As a healthcare industry professional, you know how valuable time is. Make sure your survey doesn’t take too much time to complete so that respondents can easily fit it into their schedules. 
    1. Shoot for between 5 and 15 minutes. You can make it even more manageable by using skip logic to let respondents only answer the questions most relevant to them. 
  4. Offer Incentives: you can boost your survey response rate by offering extrinsic survey incentives like discounts, coupons, gift cards, or even cash rewards. 

Healthcare Market Research Use Cases 

The above techniques are only helpful if you know how to use them, so let’s dive into use cases. Here are some ways you can use healthcare market research to expand the reach and improve the overall patient experience:

  1. Evaluate healthcare access: you can investigate benefits and barriers to healthcare among groups with limited access (for example, low-income and senior citizens). You can target populations in rural areas and inner cities for the best results.
  2. Improve business operations: this gauges the effectiveness of your business processes. It allows you to discover where you need more support and where systems could use some tweaking.
  3. Healthcare feedback questionnaire: this survey helps you find out if your patients are satisfied with their care if they were taken care of in a timely manner and if their needs were met. 
  4. Women’s health research: This allows you to monitor the healthcare female patients received, which includes their opinions, concerns and fears. This is especially important for gynecologists and those who provide health services targeted at women.
  5. Healthy lifestyle programs: This divulges whether patients are interested in secondary health programs such as health and wellness classes, smoking addiction aid, stress relief, weight management, mental health support, pain management, etc. 
  6. Teen health survey: this gives teens a confidential place to provide info on teen health habits, tobacco, drug, and alcohol abuse, bullying, and family issues. You can use this info to tailor-make special programs to aid your teen patients.

Upgrade your Patient Care with Healthcare Market Research

Healthcare market research can help you understand your patients and what they need to feel healthy and happy with their patient care. Staying on top of your healthcare practice isn’t limited to the day-to-day — it also involves the need to monitor patient satisfaction to keep your practice’s online perception in check. Surveys can come to your rescue on this matter.

Healthcare market research is important, but it shouldn’t take time away from patient care. That’s why you need a robust online survey platform to aid your in healthcare market research efforts. With an online survey platform, you can collect the data you need to better your practice. Plus, online surveys are one of the only kinds of primary market research where you don’t have to meet with someone in person (making them pandemic-proof). They’re the best way to listen to your patients’ needs and improve your practice accordingly.

Frequently asked questions

What is healthcare market research?

Healthcare market research is research that helps healthcare industry professionals understand the needs of their patients, expand their patient network, and increase their patient retention rates.

Why should you conduct healthcare market research?

Healthcare market research is important because using it to guide your practice improves patient care, strengthens your practice’s reputation, attracts patients, garners good reviews and establishes your practice as a trusted one in your community.

What are some primary healthcare market research methods?

For primary healthcare research, use surveys via an online survey tool, focus groups, phone calls and ethnographic (field) research.

What are some secondary healthcare market research resources?

For secondary healthcare market research, look for resources like published market research reports, consumer reports and industry reports, healthcare provider websites (like your competitors), NCBI for patient care research, UpToDate for clinical decision support, BMC Health Services Research for healthcare best practices and census data for exploring your demographic information.

What are some tips for healthcare market research surveys?

For the best healthcare market research surveys, target your population well, prioritize question clarity, keep your survey length to a minimum and offer incentives to up your survey participation.