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

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 is 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, 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 purchase?
  • 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 understand 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.
  • If selecting a third party to help you, look for research firms with staffs that have training and experience in asking questions that are of a private and often complex nature.  In addition, verify their ability to recruit qualified participants and obtain sufficient participation rates. And last, seek the skills to analyze, interpret, and present results to assist you in making decisions.
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.