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What is Patient-Centred Medical Market Research?

Author: Amanda Price
by Amanda Price
Posted: Mar 18, 2023
depth interview

The patient’s voice and experience are now considered central to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. For many years it was the science, rather than the patient, that drove the health industry; now healthcare brands understand that the journey of a patient through their illness, from diagnosis onwards, is critical to future developments in patient care.

The growth of technologies such as AI in the delivery of healthcare, is rapidly changing the role of the patient. They now have more control over the way they are treated, and the environment in which that treatment takes place. Healthcare providers have become interested therefore in solving specific problems that patients experience in the course of their care, in order to add value to the products they develop.

Learning From Patients

The role of patient-centred medical market research is to learn from patients what barriers they encounter, either in taking medication, or complying in healthy behaviours such as diet or exercise. Understanding where the pain-points are helps providers to know how to develop products, and brand messaging which will maximise the positive impact they can make.

There are 5 key areas that patient-centred research can help with:

      • What are the patient’s expectations of a product?
      • Are there any barriers to use for patients?
      • Is the language used in instructions clear to the patient?
      • Would patients like to see any changes to the product design?
      • Is there anything that worries patients about the product?

4 Different Types of Patient-Centric Market Research

LDA Research carries out medical market research for pharmaceutical and medical device providers. They specialise in patient-centred research and have developed a number of highly effective methodologies which can be customised to the needs of their clients.

Online Focus Groups

Prior to the pandemic, the face-to-face focus group was the most popular, and trusted, means of researching healthcare products or services with participants. Now the focus group has more-or-less moved online, which makes it more accessible to people with chronic illnesses, or impaired mobility.

A focus-group will invite a group of patients who are living with the same condition to meet online and discuss their experiences. A moderator has the task of putting everyone at ease, and guiding the discussion through a number of topics. Gradually the participants relax and will normally feel confident and empowered to share their personal stories.

In-Depth Interviews

The power of the in-depth interview lies in its flexibility, and in the time allowed for participants to talk about the journey they have been on. An in-depth interview can take place in a patient’s home, whilst someone is receiving treatment, or online. The interview can also be paused, if the patient needs to take a break, and then be resumed later.

The role of the moderator is particularly important in the in-depth interview. If they are experienced researchers with a medical background, they will know how to pick up on peripheral but important topics, or develop a conversation to allow a participant to follow a train of thought that’s new to them.

Ethnographic Study

Ethnographic studies are an attempt to walk with the patient through their illness, rather than hearing about it in an interview, or via a survey. Ethnographic research recognises that when participants are asked questions about their behaviour, they will attempt to tell the truth, but that the truth they tell may be distorted by social or familial factors.

Research using the ethnographic approach may use video diary entries, or it may consist of a number of short interviews. What’s important is that the data is collected in the lived environment of the patient. Suppose it’s a study around inhaler use; what the research needs to find out is how the inhaler is being used, and with what regularity.

Social Media Community

Online communities have become an important resource for medical market researchers to develop a relationship with patients living with rare diseases. The online community format places no time constraints on participants, so people from around the globe can participate in conversations when it’s convenient to them.

These communities are not only of benefit to researchers; many patients find it helpful to be able to engage with people who are going through something similar to themselves. A strong community that sees itself as a support group for one another can be a hugely valuable resource for both parties.

About the Author

Amanda Price - Digital Content Executive and Researcher for Imagefix | After joining the Imagefix team, she brought to the business an expertise in social media, copywriting and blogging.

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Author: Amanda Price

Amanda Price

Member since: Oct 03, 2022
Published articles: 11

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