Have you ever wondered how health institutions decide which services to offer, or how pharmaceutical companies determine which drugs to develop? Behind these decisions lies the healthcare market research. 

It guides the health sector towards more informed choices, effective strategies, and ultimately, better patient care. But, what exactly is healthcare market research, and why is it so vital to the health industry?

Understanding Healthcare Market Research

Unlike consumer packaged goods or financial services, the purchase of most healthcare products and services are generally not optional.  But that does not mean that someone absolutely must buy what you sell!  Thus there are many questions that need to be answered in order to maintain a “healthy” (pun intended) business.

The healthcare market primarily consists of…

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical device, supplies and equipment businesses
  • Primary and Secondary Care Facilities (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes)
  • Healthcare providers (e.g. doctors, nurses, pharmacists)
  • Patients who need products and services provided by any of the above

Why Is It Important?

Healthcare market research is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to the healthcare industry. It includes a vast range of areas, from studying patient preferences and behaviors to analyzing market trends for medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and health services.

Therefore, it plays a pivotal role in ensuring the industry remains patient-centric and competitive. Some of the most important benefits for business are as follows: 

• Patient-Centric Decision-Making: By understanding patient preferences, needs, and challenges, businesses can develop products and services that are genuinely tailored to their target audience. So, healthcare market research aids in understanding these nuances, ensuring that the patient’s voice is at the forefront of decision-making.

• Navigating Regulatory Compliance: The healthcare industry is heavily regulated, and these regulations can vary by region and country. Comprehensive healthcare market research helps companies understand these regulatory landscapes, ensuring they remain compliant and avoid costly penalties.

• Understanding Market Dynamics: From emerging health trends to shifts in patient demographics, market research keeps businesses informed. This knowledge enables them to pivot their strategies in real-time, ensuring they remain competitive and relevant.

• Risk Mitigation: Before launching a new product, service, or treatment approach, it’s essential to gauge its potential reception in the market. For this reason, healthcare market research helps in forecasting these scenarios, allowing businesses to make informed decisions, and mitigating risks of significant losses.

• Enhancing Stakeholder Trust: Regular market research showcases a company’s commitment to staying informed and prioritizing patient needs. This transparency and dedication can enhance trust among stakeholders, from patients and healthcare providers to investors and partners.

Main Benefits of Healthcare Market Research

When diving into the realm of healthcare, it’s essential to underscore the myriad benefits healthcare market research brings to businesses, healthcare professionals, and patients. Here’s a breakdown of some of these benefits:

• Spotting Market Opportunities: Through market research, companies can identify gaps in the market – be it an unmet medical need, a demographic that’s underserved, or a new therapy that can be developed. Capitalizing on these gaps can lead to innovation and new revenue streams.

• Optimizing Product Launches: The success of a new drug or medical device isn’t just about its efficacy. Healthcare market research aids in determining the right pricing, positioning, and promotional strategy to ensure its success in the market.

• Improved Patient Outcomes: By understanding patient needs, experiences, and feedback, healthcare market research helps in refining treatment approaches and healthcare services. This invariably translates to better patient outcomes and improved overall healthcare delivery.

• Cost Efficiency: Inefficient practices can bleed resources in the healthcare industry. Thus, market research can identify these inefficiencies, whether in the supply chain, service delivery, or patient management, allowing organizations to address them proactively.

• Tailored Marketing Efforts: With insights from healthcare market research, marketing campaigns can be designed to speak directly to the concerns, needs, and desires of specific patient groups, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

• Monitoring Competitor Activities: This research also includes competitor analysis, giving businesses an edge by understanding their competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and upcoming moves.

Emerging Trends in Healthcare Market Research

The healthcare industry, influenced by advancements in technology, shifts in patient behavior, and a rapidly changing regulatory environment, is in a perpetual state of evolution. Consequently, healthcare market research has been instrumental in keeping pace with these changes, and in the process, has identified several emerging trends:

• Patient Empowerment and Consumerism: Patients are behaving more like consumers, seeking information, comparing providers, and making informed decisions about their care. Healthcare market research is shedding light on this paradigm shift, helping providers tailor their services to meet these evolving expectations.

• Digital Health and Telemedicine: The ongoing digital transformation in healthcare is a focal point in healthcare market research. From wearable tech gathering real-time patient data to virtual consultations, understanding the implications and possibilities of digital health has become paramount.

• Personalized Medicine: The drive towards tailored medical treatments based on an individual’s genetics and lifestyle is gaining momentum. Healthcare market research is vital in understanding patient attitudes, gauging the potential market size, and determining best practices for this bespoke approach to medicine.

• Data Privacy and Security Concerns: With healthcare becoming more digitized, concerns about data privacy and cyber threats have come to the forefront. Market research is investigating patient trust levels and expectations concerning their personal health information.

• Incorporation of AI and Machine Learning: AI’s role in diagnosing diseases, predicting patient needs, and even drug discovery is growing. Healthcare market research is instrumental in gauging healthcare professionals’ receptivity, potential barriers, and the broader implications of AI in healthcare.

• Mental Health Focus: Mental health, once sidelined, is receiving the attention it deserves – and market research is diving deep into understanding the societal, cultural, and economic nuances surrounding mental health to shape policies and practices.

Key Opportunities for Businesses

The dynamic world of healthcare offers multiple opportunities for businesses. Healthcare market research highlights these opportunities while mitigating potential risks. Here are some of the prime opportunities uncovered by market research:

• Precision Medicine and Genomics: Tailoring medical treatments to individual patients based on their genetic makeup presents a goldmine of opportunities. Businesses venturing into genomic data analysis, genetic testing kits, and personalized therapy can find immense potential.

• Wearable and IoT Devices: Wearable devices are revolutionizing patient care and data collection. Healthcare market research highlights the market’s growth potential, areas of innovation, and the type of data consumers are comfortable sharing.

• Telemedicine Platforms: There’s a growing market for platforms that offer secure, user-friendly, and comprehensive telehealth solutions. Market research identifies demographic groups most open to telemedicine and the key features they seek.

• AI-Driven Innovations: Whether it’s for diagnostics, administrative tasks, or patient management, AI has immense potential in healthcare. Market research provides clarity on areas ripe for AI integration and the barriers to its adoption.

• Collaborative Platforms: As cross-sector collaborations increase, platforms that facilitate cooperation between tech companies, pharma, and healthcare providers are in demand. Healthcare market research aids in identifying the needs of these sectors and creating solutions that bridge the gap.

Challenges of Healthcare Market Research

While healthcare market research is an indispensable tool for businesses, it does come with its own set of challenges – and the healthcare industry demands a nuanced approach to market research. Let’s explore some of the challenges businesses may encounter:

• Regulatory and Compliance Issues: The healthcare industry is highly regulated worldwide. Healthcare market research must ensure that data collection, analysis, and dissemination comply with local, national, and international standards and laws. Navigating these regulations can often be complex.

• Patient Data Privacy: Protecting patient data is paramount. Researchers often deal with sensitive health information, making it crucial for businesses to ensure the utmost security and confidentiality.

• Diverse Patient Populations: With diversity in genetics, culture, and socioeconomic backgrounds, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Healthcare market research must account for this diversity, which can be a challenging endeavor.

• Subjectivity in Patient Feedback: Patients’ perceptions of care, treatment outcomes, and overall experience can be highly subjective. As a result, this research must employ rigorous methodologies to ensure that the insights derived are reliable and actionable.

• Complex Decision-Making Structures: Unlike many other sectors, healthcare decisions aren’t made by one person or entity. Decisions involve doctors, administrators, patients, and payers. Understanding this complex web is crucial for effective research.

• Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging busy healthcare professionals can be challenging. Ensuring their buy-in and getting their valuable insights requires tact and a clear value proposition.

Here are 3 steps that may help you with your need for market research

1. If you are planning to conduct research on this market, start by addressing the following basic questions.

What are your objectives? 

  • Do you want to study the whole market or just a part of it? (e.g. global, national, or regional)
  • Do you want to gather opinions from consumers (patients) and/or from providers of products or services to them?
  • Are you concerned about reactions to a new product or service?
  • Do you want to know what your competition is planning to do?

What is the overall landscape of your market(s)?

  • What is its size?  Key segments?  Trends?
  • Who are the major competitors?  Where are they located?
  • How are distribution and the supply chain organized?

Who precisely are your target customers, and what are the characteristics of respondents you wish to hear from?

  • Are end users both the decision-makers as well as the buyers?  Or do others (such as doctors, spouses, and parents) play a role in influencing the purchase?
  • What kinds of purchases are influenced by others? (e.g. prescription or non-prescription drugs, nutritional supplements, vitamins)
  • Do patients have any unique demographics of interest (children, senior citizens, gender, specific diseases or medications)?
  • Is there a list of potential subjects available to study, or do you need to recruit a representative sample?
Healthcare Market Research Consulting 2020

2. Next, you can move into addressing other key questions, such as

  • What is the perception and reputation or image of your business and/or brand?
    • What are substitutes for your product or service?
  • What motivates purchase behavior?
    • What is the likelihood and frequency of repeat purchases?
  • How effective are your communications/messages?
    • Where and how often are your messages seen or heard?  (e.g. in a doctor’s office, on desktops, smartphones, cable TV, or magazines)

3. Finally, you should decide whether to use qualitative, quantitative, or both types of research to ask questions and collect data.

  • Personal interviews (either face to face or on the phone) and focus groups as well as diary studies or surveys often deal with very sensitive health issues. It may be easier to interview a doctor in person or on the phone, and patients in a focus group or via an online survey. Often, a combination of methods and respondent groups will provide an optimal set of findings to answer your questions.
  • Choosing the technique and understanding the method of analysis. 
    • When formulating questions, you may wish to measure how people react to the relative importance of certain product features, or feelings about price points.  A technique known as conjoint analysis can help to predict the acceptance and probability of purchase based on which of several different options are presented. 
    • Or you might want to know how your brand compares to those of your competitors and what factors most influence those perceptions. Here, use brand equity research, where each feature of a brand can be ranked or rated to identify what matters most in its overall preference.
    • Another approach involves a person’s actual usage of a product, followed by their attitudes and feelings. In some attitude and usage studies, answers to a “pre” versus “post” set of questions can highlight any changes in perception.
Hospital Market Research Healthcare


  • Have a solid plan, with well-defined objectives.
  • Pick the right methods to ask the right questions of the right people.
  • Select a qualified research firm to assist with your project and to help inform your decisions.

About SIS International

SIS International offers Quantitative, Qualitative, and Strategy Research. We provide data, tools, strategies, reports and insights for decision-making. We conduct interviews, surveys, focus groups and many other Market Research methods and approaches. Contact us for your next Market Research project.