The medical marketing research process

There have been many recent health care advances, especially in the post-COVID-19 world. Many are led to wonder how the medical marketing research process is conducted to understand and achieve new treatments and services. How do you recruit health care practitioners to participate in your project? What do you do after you wrap up the research? 

There are a variety of ways to conduct market research within the medical field. In this article, we will introduce five steps to conducting a successful research project with HCPs:

  1. Determine the scope of your medical market research project.
  2. Outline your research project and timeline. 
  3. Recruiting health care practitioners.
  4. Collect data. 
  5. Compile your findings. 

Conducting research with health care practitioners

Step 1: Determine the scope of your medical market research project

Before starting to outline your project procedure, start by figuring out what you plan to do. How many health care practitioners do you need to work with? Will the project be broad or specific? What is your end goal and who will it impact? 

In “Conducting medical market research,” Trace Sells says that before product development research, you should figure out whether there is an unmet need in the specific area the project is in. When you identify the need, you will have a clearer idea of the end goal and the process required to meet it. In the article “Philips Healthcare put human experiences at the heart of research into cardiology care pathways” by Laura Hunt and Amy Pratt, they argue that researchers should start with context when aiming to find insights. Knowing the context before beginning your medical marketing research with health care practitioners can give you an understanding of the current trends in the field and the opportunities that can be created. 

Step 2: Outline your research project and timeline 

After deciding the scope of the marketing research project you will conduct with health care practitioners, outline the length and procedures. This will avoid any confusion within your team as to what the next step is. 

Be sure to set aside enough time to conduct your research. Find a balance so it does not feel rushed or drag on longer than needed. Determine how you will connect with health care practitioners. Do you plan on surveys and focus groups? Meeting in person or virtually? Virtual options can work well for many health care practitioners. Having a virtual meeting can cut travel time and costs. Virtual meetings can also be easier to conduct for high-demand HCPs with busy schedules. 

In “Continuing with primary research: HCPs want their voices heard” by Heidi Boyle and Danielle Thierry, they encourage researchers who are working with surveys to keep them simple, quick and easy. Surveys should get to the point quickly as many health care practitioners have tight schedules. Surveys should be easy to access and take. Your respondents should not undergo a difficult process to offer their feedback. Figuring out the tools and methods available to you can help you outline your process and general timeline before beginning your research.  

Step 3: Recruiting health care practitioners

It is challenging to find high-quality participants for any kind of research project. In “How to improve the marketing research process for today’s health care practitioners,” author Greg Borden says that many qualified health care practitioners are not interested or are unable to participate in marketing research projects. In a post-COVID-19 world, health care practitioners have even tighter schedules than before with little to no time for project participation.  

When recruiting health care practitioners, it is important to emphasize that research timelines can be flexible and that they do not need to dedicate a long period of time toward them. Borden says that it is important to know your health care practitioners beforehand. Knowing about them and what their area of expertise is can let you know if they are qualified for your research. This can also be a sign of respect as you will have a solid foundation before setting up a first meeting with them.  

An aspect that cannot be overlooked when recruiting health care practitioners is compensation. If you have a lower research budget, the incentives you offer may not be enough for some health care practitioners. To make this work, adjust what you are asking them to do. Instead of an in-person meeting, offer a virtual option or survey that they can fill out on their own time. These adjustments can show that you value the responses they have to offer toward your research. 

Step 4: Collect data 

Regardless of whether data is being collected through qualitative or quantitative methods, be sure to follow best practices. In “Effective data collection starts with the right questions” by Chris Benham, he emphasizes the importance of proper question construction and encourages the implementation of an autocomplete feature to help with data collection clean up. 

When collecting data, authors Boyle and Thierry say you should approach health care practitioners with empathy and adjust your approach to one that works for them. Understand if they cannot work with your research schedule, as many are still facing the impacts of COVID-19 in their day-to-day lives. 

Step 5: Compile your findings 

Nancy Cox, author of “How the elements of a story can enliven your research reports” and Chelsea Gibbons, author of “Tips for creating research reports that capture and hold attention,” both emphasize the importance of storytelling within research reports. Cox says there is no specific template to use when implementing storytelling aspects as long as there is structure to your report. The elements you implement can go a long way. The use of quotes or general references to those you worked with, either your partners or the health care practitioners who you contacted, can offer context to your report. Gibbons argues that implementing visuals is both functional and aesthetically pleasing and can draw the reader in. Visuals include videos, images, graphics or even shapes that group specific sections of information. When compiling your findings, it is best to present them in a manner that is both cohesive and appealing to the reader. 

There are many ways to conduct marketing research with health care practitioners. It is crucial to have an understanding of your research timeline and final goal to keep your team on track and to work with health care practitioners as efficiently as possible.