Recent market research in the healthcare industry reinforces the significant challenges facing an industry that is not necessarily known for rapid change.
As medical institutions continue to consolidate there are fewer customers that are larger and more “corporate” in nature. The path to purchase is more difficult to ascertain and may increasingly involve bundled or complex contracts. The purchase cycle is often extended and less predictable. And the cultural clashes that inevitably occur with healthcare system mergers and acquisitions add another layer of complexity and uncertainty.
The push to alternate care environments continues. Hospital stays are decreasing and products and devices that were previously utilized in an inpatient acute care hospital environment are increasingly moving to alternate care environments such as ambulatory surgical centers, urgent care centers, long-term care institutions, and home care environments. This trend includes the increasing use of advanced delivery models involving telemedicine.
The caregiver continues to evolve. Some products that were previously utilized or prescribed by physicians will increasingly be handled by physician’s assistants or other acute, alternate, or home care clinicians.
Hospitals and healthcare providers are being reimbursed less for services provided than ever before. These large institutions are losing money while facing incredible economic pressure to maintain the quality of care standards. The Affordable Care Act and other reforms have put value squarely in the center of the equation. Whereas in past years technology sold, now products and devices must combine technology and quality with economics. That means cost-effectiveness. Bells and whistles are being replaced by ROI measures.
Physician and clinician environments continue to become more complicated. Quality of care goals have been challenged by a reduction in headcount and increasing regulations, which have resulted in burdensome administrative duties. In many cases, the purchase influencers have less time to fully evaluate new products or services. This makes the purchase dynamics and cycles that much more complex.
Finally, patients are increasingly taking control of their care wherever possible. This can be extremely positive for the patient but complicates the job for medical product and device marketers and communicators. The latter now have to consider direct-to-consumer channels as they consider product launch, positioning, and communications strategies.
The Solution – A Complete and Holistic View
In order to get an accurate picture of a particular healthcare market, it is necessary to engage all of the relevant constituents and understand their rational and emotional motivations for product evaluation and purchase.
First, a comprehensive path to the purchase assessment to confirm all constituents involved in the evaluation, purchase, and use of the products to devices of interest is recommended.
Second, an assessment of the rational and emotional purchase drivers is necessary.
- Rational drivers; the attributes that customers articulate
- Emotional drivers; the emotional connections that customers have with products and brands that can be uncovered using a set of research-friendly Emotion Intelligence tools, based on language and rooted in science
This type of approach, when periodically updated, will allow marketers to have a clear and comprehensive understanding of:
- “Who”…are the key influencers of purchase?
- “So what”…now that we have this holistic view, what does it mean?
- “What’s next”…what are the short- and long-term actions?
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