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How to Conduct Market Research in Healthcare | IntelliSurvey


Healthcare is a fast-growing and changing industry. Legislative changes, regulatory changes, technological developments, and consumer behavior impact how healthcare develops and evolves.

Market research is a crucial strategy component in any field, including healthcare. However, in the medical industry, the stakes are much higher. When it comes to healthcare, generating sales and earning a profit is a smaller piece of the pie. In many cases, healthcare can impact a person’s standard of living or save their lives.

Companies in the healthcare sector have to take great care to conduct their market research accurately and ethically. Accurate data is imperative when creating new ways to care for patients, regardless of the product. Learn more about what market research in the healthcare industry looks like and why it is important below.

What Is Healthcare Market Research?

Healthcare market research determines the viability of new medical products or services through primary and secondary sources. Primary sources consist of interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic studies that strive to understand how consumers use products. Interviews and focus groups will likely include both patients and medical professionals. For example, a company creating a new medical device might want to know what would make a primary care provider’s life easier or make a patient more comfortable during their visit.

Secondary resources refer to a wide variety of research that is generally available. It includes any data collected by another credible party, such as a university, as well as scientific journals, statistics publications, and market research articles.

Healthcare market research helps organizations gain a better understanding of patient needs, perceptions, and motivations. It also helps researchers understand the needs of healthcare workers and other professionals in the medical field. Healthcare market research aims to understand all the different areas of healthcare. To gain a thorough understanding of all the moving parts of the medical market, researchers analyze everything from participants, audiences, methodologies, tools, and challenges in the field.

Why Is Market Research Important to Healthcare?

In any industry, market research is critical for creating innovative products and standing out among the competition. For companies in the healthcare industry, market research goes beyond driving sales and trying to turn a profit; it strives to close gaps in service delivery methods and improve patient care across the board.

Standing Out Among the Competition

The healthcare sector has become increasingly competitive thanks to disruptive technologies and venture capital investors looking into high-risk and high-reward business models. However, several major enterprises continue to dominate the healthcare and medical industries at large.

Patients and healthcare professionals may see this as a positive change because it leads to competitive pricing and more choices when it comes to care and treatment methods; however, it also makes it challenging for startups in healthcare to find their footing. 

Market research helps offset significant risks for new startups because it gives them the information and tools they need to stand out and create an actionable plan. For healthcare startups, that plan includes the audience they need to engage, why they need to reach them, and how they will accomplish that.

Development Insights for Innovative Products and Services

Even the most successful healthcare companies cannot afford to rest on their laurels when it comes to product development and customer acquisition. Since healthcare providers and other customers have more suppliers to choose from, even well-established organizations have to stay on their toes to stay ahead of the market. If patients and healthcare professionals can’t find what they need with your company, they will look elsewhere and likely find a solution.

Healthcare market research helps companies in the medical industry stay innovative and identify new ways to help patients and practitioners alike. When healthcare companies remain innovative, everyone wins. New products and services engage new customers and ensure that patients are receiving the care they deserve while making sure that the business stays profitable.

Close Gaps in Service Delivery Methods

Healthcare solutions are often sophisticated and require a service delivery model instead of a basic transactional approach. For example, companies that provide medical testing equipment to labs might rely on firms to help them track patient care satisfaction. Healthcare market research helps these firms identify if there are any gaps in service delivery models and find new opportunities to improve satisfaction among all parties.

What are the Primary Audiences for Healthcare Market Research?

Healthcare market research focuses on care delivery in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, as well as medical procedures, patient satisfaction, and medical equipment acquisition and use within healthcare facilities. The healthcare industry’s market research audiences include:

  • Primary care practitioners (Medical Specialists - Physicians)
  • Secondary care practitioners (Allied Health Professionals - Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, etc.)
  • Healthcare administrators - (Hospital/Lab Personnel - Pharmacy Directors, Medical Directors, Administrators)
  • Patients and other healthcare consumers

Healthcare Market Research Methods and Tools

Healthcare companies must determine the methods and tools they want to use to gather accurate data. Depending on what information an organization needs, it can employ different techniques to collect quantitative or qualitative data. Researchers should ensure that the methods and tools they use align with their client’s or organizations’ resources and goals. Below are a few healthcare market research methods and tools that researchers may employ.

Online Surveys

Online surveys leverage questionnaires and screeners for an organization’s target market. For example, healthcare surveys are simple 10 to 30-minute surveys that help researchers get responses quickly. Online satisfaction surveys can reach a specific segment while saving time and encouraging more responses.

In-depth Interviews (IDIs)

In-depth interviews, or IDIs, can be time-consuming but often give researchers more information than other techniques. IDIs are typically held in person or over the phone between one respondent and a trained moderator. Since healthcare is a sensitive topic, 1-on-1 interviews make it easier to get detailed feedback if the interviewee feels comfortable.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are extremely effective during healthcare market research for developing new products and services. Focus groups are a group-brainstorming format that stimulates ideas and feedback that researchers might not be able to receive from a survey or 1-on-1 interview. Group-brainstorming sessions are commonly conducted in person or through a web call.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research refers to field studies that leverage observation, interviews, and more to study how people use products and services and interact with different technologies.

Challenges in Healthcare Market Research

Since the healthcare industry is strictly regulated, researchers face additional challenges when conducting market research. Companies in the healthcare industry must ensure that their practices are within any regulations and laws. Researchers must ensure that patient information remains private and protected when collecting data. Healthcare market research’s primary challenges include:

  • Limited availability of research respondents
  • Difficulty recruiting respondents (since healthcare is a sensitive topic)
  • Ensuring strict adherence to healthcare data protection laws and compliance with ethical guidelines.

Examples of Market Research in Healthcare

Patient Chart Survey: How do dermatologists treat Psoriatic Arthritis?

On behalf of a client, IntelliSurvey interviewed 250+ dermatologists in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain as part of a patient chart survey. Each of them provided data for 1-10 of their patients. Using a well-structured questionnaire and progressive compensation to incentivize doctors to fill in several cases, we collected the medical case and associated treatment for over 1,000 individual Psoriatic Arthritis patients. 


Niche Audience Research: How do you reach engineers responsible for consumer safety protocols in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry? 

Going beyond generic online panels is necessary to find validated sources and ensure quality response data for this niche audience. Using a blended panel approach, we sourced panelists from multiple vetted vendors to optimize the number of responses, field speed, and budget requirements. To meet the parameters, we delivered 61.2% of respondents recruited and interviewed by phone from our CATI partner and 38.8% from an expert network that provided responses via an online survey. 

How IntelliSurvey Can Help

IntelliSurvey has a variety of market research, survey programming, and field management services to help companies in the healthcare industry create an effective market research plan with performance trackers and advanced analytics. With help from IntelliSurvey, your organization can better understand what factors are impairing or improving your brand’s overall customer experience, what new healthcare solutions you should bring to market, or other healthcare-related research activities.

IntelliSurvey’s in-house research team can help your organization review and help draft materials for your market research plan. Our research team features world-class programmers to help ensure that your surveys and other materials are user-friendly and compliant with all ethical guidelines and regulations. IntelliSurvey’s experienced project consultants will ensure that fieldwork runs as smoothly as possible, so you can focus on things like data analysis and other projects.

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