The Ultimate Guide On Healthcare Market Research 

In the competitive medical device industry, effective market research is critical for commercial success. 

This guide has been put together to provide an overview of the essential strategies and methodologies of healthcare market research, tailored specifically for those in the medical device sector.

In this guide, we’re going to explore a number of key questions and topics, including:

  1. What is the purpose of market research in healthcare? 
  2. Healthcare qualitative market research: All you should know
  3. The patient journey mapping 
    How to easily perform a customer segmentation project
  4. Ethnography in healthcare
    The best examples of ethnographic research in the medical market
    Finding the right ethnographic research service for your medical device
  5. Patient video diaries
  6. Focus groups
  7. Conjoint analysis in healthcare
    The major types of conjoint analysis
    Conjoint analysis examples and challenges
  8. Optimize the Pricing Strategy for your medical device with IDR Medical

What is the purpose of market research in healthcare? 


The ultimate goal of market research in healthcare is to ensure that medical services and products are both effective and aligned with the needs and expectations of patients and healthcare professionals.

This insight gained from market research is critical for guiding product development, optimizing marketing strategies, and enhancing the efficacy and marketability of medical devices - ultimately helping to drive product success. 

Healthcare market research can typically be grouped into two broad categories: qualitative research and quantitative research. 

Quantitative research uses techniques such as surveys, questionnaires, and large-scale data analysis The strength of quantitative research lies in its ability to provide statistically significant data, which can help in drawing general conclusions about your target market.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, offers more nuanced insight that is essential in the medical device industry. It provides a deeper insight into the motivations, feelings, and experiences of patients and healthcare professionals. Through methods like in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observational studies, qualitative research can provide context and rationale to support the numerical data gathered through quantitative research.


Healthcare market research

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Healthcare qualitative market research: All you should know


Achieving comprehensive, actionable insights in healthcare market research often involves a balanced combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

Qualitative research plays a critical role in uncovering deeper insights beyond the statistical nature that quantitative data can provide. 

Let's explore the key applications and outcomes of qualitative research in healthcare in more detail.


An in-depth understanding of end-user perspectives

Qualitative research provides insight into the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of patients and healthcare professionals. 
It can reveal underlying attitudes and preferences, which can help medical device manufacturers refine their products, ensuring they align closely with the needs and expectations of end users.


Identifying unmet needs

Qualitative methods like interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic studies are key to uncovering unmet needs in healthcare. 
These methods allow for a deep understanding of user challenges, pain points, and desires, enabling manufacturers to innovate and address these gaps effectively.


Supporting medical device pricing strategies

Qualitative healthcare market research is vital in informing medical device pricing strategies. 

It helps manufacturers understand which features and functionality are most valued by end users and how much they are willing to pay for them. 


Ensuring effective communication strategies

Qualitative research aids in crafting effective value propositions and communication strategies. 

It enables medical device manufacturers to understand the language and terminology that resonates with various market segments, guiding the development of tailored marketing campaigns and communication strategies.



The patient journey mapping 


It’s important for any healthcare market research project to be carefully managed and focus on actionable insights.

One of the ways to help focus the scope of a healthcare market research project is to approach it based on the stages of the patient journey. 

The patient journey is a series of steps that the patient goes through from the moment they become aware of an issue requiring medical attention to the point after treatment has been completed. 

It is typically broken up into 5 stages, starting from the point that a patient identifies they have a need for healthcare to their consideration of different solutions, the setting of appointments, healthcare service delivery, and ongoing patient care. 


Patient journey infographic




How to easily perform a customer segmentation project

An effective customer segmentation strategy plays a crucial role in the market success of any medical device.

Without effective segmentation, medical device manufacturers run the risk of misaligning their products and marketing strategies with the needs of their target market. This can potentially lead to missed opportunities, product development missteps, and reduced satisfaction of end users. 

By spending time on an effective customer segmentation project, medical device manufacturers can unlock a number of benefits:

  • A better understanding of customers
  • Development of more tailored products and services
  • Improved patient outcomes
  • More effective marketing efforts

At IDR Medical, we advise following a structured approach to any customer segmentation project: 

  1. Define Objectives
  2. Gather Background Data
  3. Choose Segmentation Criteria
  4. Select Data Collection Methods
  5. Conduct Pilot Testing
  6. Analyze Results
  7. Develop Segment Profiles
  8. Implement and Monitor


Ethnography in healthcare


Ethnography involves observing and analyzing the behaviors and activities of healthcare professionals and patients in their natural environments, such as hospitals, clinics, or homes.

For medical device manufacturers, ethnography can be an effective approach to qualitative market research - helping unlock insights that may be missed from traditional market research methods. 

By observing behaviors and in real-world settings, ethnographic research offers a window into how healthcare professionals and patients interact with medical devices, helping to identify barriers to effective use and inform product improvements​​.

Ethnographic research can also be effective in monitoring the daily routines, workflows, and processes of healthcare professionals, helping to identify any inefficiencies that new medical devices can help to address.


The best examples of ethnographic research in the medical market

At IDR Medical, we regularly incorporate ethnographic studies into our research process. 

One of the most recent examples of this approach in practice was on a study into respiratory support in the home, looking specifically at how sleep patients interact with their CPAP medical devices.

By combining insights from ethnographic observation of patient behavior with empirical data from the devices' onboard monitoring systems, we were able to refine the device's usability and significantly enhance the overall patient experience.

We also recently used ethnography as part of a study we conducted for a wound care company to understand the needs in orthopedic surgery better, focusing on everything from preparing for surgery to managing wounds after discharge. 

As part of our approach, we recorded orthopedic surgeons during their knee and hip surgery procedures and asked them to explain why they were making certain decisions with the products they used. We also had patients keep daily video diaries and answer questionnaires to provide their perspectives. 

By combining the insights from both the surgeons and patients, we were able to help the client develop a more comprehensive strategy for their wound care products.



Finding the right ethnographic research service for your medical device

As a qualitative research method, ethnography offers profound insights but also presents unique challenges.

For example, the process of observing and recording healthcare professionals and patients in their natural settings generates sensitive personal data, which needs to be handled in a considerate and compliant manner to ensure that confidentiality is retained and your business complies with all relevant legislation.

Ethnographic research can also be both time-intensive and costly.

That’s why it’s important to work with the right research partner when looking at considering an ethnographic study. 

At IDR Medical, we have a dedicated team of experts with decades of experience in conducting ethnographic research in the healthcare sector. 

Our methodologies and approach are designed to respect the privacy and dignity of all participants while capturing the in-depth insights that only ethnographic research can provide.



Patient video diaries


Patient video diaries can be an effective research method for gaining a better understanding of a patient’s healthcare experience. 

A video diary can be used to document everything a patient experiences during treatment and post-treatment, including their daily routines, interaction with healthcare providers, adherence to prescribed medication, the use of medical devices, and any changes to their condition.

One of the key benefits of video diaries compared to patient surveys is that they reduce the risk of inaccurate recollections, as data is recorded and relayed to researchers promptly - sometimes in real-time. 

This can make video diaries a more reliable way to capture patient needs, challenges, and preferences, which can then inform product development, communication plans, and marketing strategies.

To maximize the potential of video diary studies, they should be conducted methodically:

  1. Clearly define the research objectives.
  2. Select an appropriate target population.
  3. Design the patient diary framework.
  4. Recruit and screen suitable participants.
  5. Provide training and onboarding for participants.
  6. Implement robust data management practices.
  7. Conduct a thorough analysis of the collected data.
  8. Report the findings comprehensively.

Collaborating with an experienced research team is crucial to ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of patient video diaries in healthcare market research. 


Focus groups


Most people are familiar with the concept of a focus group, which typically brings together a small group of people to discuss a particular subject. 

However, in the field of healthcare research, a more nuanced approach to focus group research is needed in order to get the insights needed to meet research objectives most effectively. 

Decisions to be made include whether to conduct a standard focus group with 6-8 participants or a mini-focus group with around 4 respondents, which allows for more intimate and detailed discussions. 

For research topics that are more controversial or divisive, a dyad or triad focus group (with only 2 or 3 participants) can often deliver the most valuable insight - especially when participants have opposing views. 

Another consideration when incorporating focus groups into a healthcare market research project is the composition of the group. 

A homogeneous focus group, which consists of participants with similar characteristics, is best for focused and in-depth discussions. Alternatively, a heterogeneous focus group, which is made up of a diverse mix of participants, can be more effective in generating a broad spectrum of ideas due to the wide range of perspectives of its members.

There are also choices to be made on whether an in-person or online focus group is best for your research objective and how the structure and moderation of the focus group should be administered. It’s important that any moderator allows free-flowing discussion while delivering insights on the points that are important to you. 

Given the complexity and significance of these choices, partnering with an experienced research team is crucial.



Conjoint analysis in healthcare


This wouldn’t be a comprehensive guide to healthcare market research methods without delving into the role of conjoint analysis. 
This research technique is critical for understanding consumer preferences within the healthcare sector.

Explained simply, conjoint analysis involves presenting respondents with various product configurations that combine different features, price points, and attributes. The participants are then asked to select their preferences.

By analyzing the choices made, it’s possible to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of different product attributes, how consumers make decisions, and the factors that drive their choices.

The insights gained from conjoint analysis can help in a number of different areas:

  • Product Design
    Conjoint analysis can help medical device manufacturers better understand consumer preferences, helping prioritize which features to develop, enhance, or possibly remove.

  • Pricing Strategy
    The approach can also deliver an understanding of how different product attributes influence the perceived value of a device, helping manufacturers set prices that resonate with market expectations.

  • Marketing and communication
    By understanding the features that are most valued by consumers, conjoint analysis can help guide marketing and sales strategies, ensuring that the most compelling aspects of a product are promoted effectively.

The major types of conjoint analysis

There are various forms of conjoint analysis, each with its unique advantages and suitability for different research objectives.

Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis (CBC)
CBC helps to highlight the trade-offs consumers make between device features and pricing.

It presents respondents with sets of product profiles, and they choose the most preferred one. This method mirrors real-life decision-making scenarios and is valuable for understanding consumer priorities in device features and cost.

Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint (ACBC)

ACBC adapts to participants' initial responses, following up with tailored questions based on earlier selections.

This approach provides in-depth insights, making it useful for detailed product development studies.

Menu-Based Conjoint

In MBC, respondents select their preferences from a 'menu' of features, similar to choosing items from a restaurant menu.

This method simplifies the research process and is especially effective in assessing the overall appeal of various feature combinations.

Full-Profile Conjoint Analysis

This approach involves presenting respondents with complete product profiles.

It's particularly effective in assessing the overall appeal of a product as a whole rather than focusing on individual features.

Adaptive Conjoint Analysis (ACA)

ACA customizes the survey experience for each participant, basing the progression of questions on their previous answers.

This method is highly interactive and provides a more personalized approach to understanding individual preferences. It's suitable for in-depth analysis and can be particularly useful in markets with diverse consumer needs.

Conjoint analysis examples and challenges

To give an example of conjoint analysis in healthcare, imagine a medical device company wanting to understand consumer preferences for a new blood pressure monitor.

Through conjoint analysis, research participants could be presented with various combinations of blood pressure monitor attributes, including the display and interface, portability, memory functions, battery life, cuff size and comfort, accuracy levels, ease of use, digital connectivity, brand name, and price.

By analyzing how participants respond to different combinations, the company can understand which features are most valued by end users. This information can guide them in designing a product that aligns with consumer preferences at an optimal price point.

Conjoint analysis is clearly a powerful tool in healthcare market research, offering a range of benefits. However, it also presents certain challenges.


Benefits of Conjoint Analysis

  • Realistic Market Simulations
    It closely simulates real-life market scenarios, allowing researchers to gain actionable insights into how products are likely to perform in real-world market conditions.
  • Detailed Preference and Trade-Off Analysis
    Conjoint analysis is great at revealing customer preferences and the trade-offs they are willing to make, providing clarity on what features or aspects are most valued.
  • Effective Market Segmentation
    By understanding different consumer preferences, conjoint analysis assists in segmenting the market more effectively, enabling tailored marketing strategies.
  • Flexible Survey Design
    Conjoint analysis surveys can be customized to fit specific research needs and objectives, making them versatile tools in healthcare market research.


Challenges of Conjoint Analysis

  • Complexity and Need for Expertise
    Conducting conjoint analysis requires specialized knowledge and access to sophisticated software/
  • Assumption of Rational Decision-Making
    The approach often assumes rational decision-making by respondents, which may overlook emotional or psychological factors influencing their choices.
  • Risk of Respondent Fatigue
    The detailed nature of conjoint analysis surveys can lead to respondent fatigue, which can, in turn, affect the accuracy and reliability of the data.

So, while conjoint analysis in healthcare provides in-depth insights into consumer preferences, it requires careful planning, design, and implementation.

It’s important to partner with experienced market research professionals who can navigate the complexities of conjoint analysis effectively.


Optimize the Pricing Strategy for your medical device with IDR Medical


In the medical device market, it’s critical for manufacturers to get product pricing right - balancing the affordability and appeal to buyers with profitability and market share.

There are three main market research methodologies for optimizing your product's pricing strategy.

  1. Gabor Granger Methodology

    This approach assesses buying likelihood at various price points. 
    It involves querying respondents about their willingness to purchase at specified prices and then adjusting these price points based on their responses. 
    The outcome is a demand curve that informs an optimal pricing strategy.

  2. Van Westendorp Pricing Model

    This model explores acceptable price ranges from the customer's viewpoint, focusing on their perception of value. 
    Respondents identify various price points, providing insights into key pricing benchmarks like the Optimum Price Point (OPP) and Indifference Price Point (IPP).

  3. Conjoint Analysis

    Conjoint analysis assesses how customers value different product attributes, with their preferences helping guide the price point of a medical device.

The world of healthcare market research and medical device pricing strategy is complex. 
If you're launching a new medical device and need guidance on market research or pricing,  IDR Medical is ready to help.

Our free initial consultation includes an in-depth discussion and a tailored proposal to address your unique business needs. 
Schedule your consultation today or find out more about how to optimize your medical device pricing strategy.