How to Conduct Patient Market Research

nurse looking at patient data

Understanding your target audience is essential for any healthcare-related venture, be it a medical practice, pharmaceutical company, or healthcare startup.

In the dynamic landscape of healthcare, patient preferences, needs, and behaviors play a pivotal role in shaping decisions.

Conducting thorough patient market research is the compass that guides these decisions, offering valuable insights that can drive innovation, improve patient care, and ultimately, lead to better outcomes.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the essential steps and strategies to effectively conduct patient market research, empowering you to navigate the healthcare landscape with confidence and clarity. Let's dive in.

Patient Insights Using Market Research

When conducting market research in the healthcare field, oftentimes it’s with the goal of learning more about patients and their struggles in order to improve the overall experience.

Conducting research is one of the best things a company can do for their patients since they will listen to them and help improve their lives.

Healthcare patients are similar to customers in other industries in that they can give valuable feedback. However, where they differ is their unique viewpoint on their ailments and treatment that doctors and professionals don’t share.

A lot of what makes up patient insights is working towards the goal of developing better care in a more efficient manner. Not to mention the goal of getting the highest quality data possible so that accurate insights can be taken from your data.

Patient Research Methods

For all healthcare providers, including hospitals, manufacturers, and general/specialist care providers - patient research can be the key to data that allows them to make informed decisions for the business.

Pricing Market Research

For new concepts, products, and services pricing can be a make or break quality in healthcare. Especially when dealing with things like patient budgets or insurance approvals - pricing is crucial.

Patient insights can often be they key to gathering the right information needed to properly price things based on market value (from real customer insights).

Without good data, companies can only guess what they should price things.

Customer Loyalty Surveys

Customer loyalty can be the difference between an average healthcare provider and a great one. With great customer satisfaction often means returning customers, a great experience, and a stable growing business.

Without it, most times providers can struggle to acquire and keep customers, making just running the business a chore. Using real customer feedback with surveys, loyalty can be measured and even improved on for better business decisions.

Questions That Patient Market Research Can Help Answer

For healthcare providers like general providers, hospitals, specialists, and manufacturers there might be specific questions you are wondering about your patients.

Patient market research can generally answer these questions and help provide answers, strategies, or solutions to these issues.

Questions you might be thinking about like: 

  • How satisfied are patients?
  • Do patients trust their physician?
  • How likely are patients to switch medical practices? Why?
  • How can the medical practice improve patient satisfaction?

Steps To Conducting a Patient Market Research Project

Conducting patient market research is crucial for understanding patient needs, preferences, behaviors, and attitudes towards healthcare products or services.

Here's a structured approach to conducting such research:

  1. Define Objectives: Clearly outline the goals of your research. Determine what insights you want to gain from the patient market research. For example, you might want to understand patient demographics, their current experiences with healthcare providers, their unmet needs, or their perceptions of certain treatments.

  2. Identify Target Audience: Define the specific patient population you want to study. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, medical condition, treatment history, etc. Identifying the right target audience ensures that your research findings are relevant and actionable.

  3. Choose Research Methodology: Select appropriate research methodologies based on your objectives and target audience. Common methodologies include surveys, interviews, focus groups, ethnographic studies, online forums, and social media listening. Each method has its strengths and limitations, so choose the ones that best suit your research goals and budget.

  4. Develop Research Instruments: Design survey questionnaires, interview guides, or discussion protocols tailored to your chosen methodology. Ensure that your research instruments are clear, unbiased, and capable of capturing the insights you seek. Pilot test your instruments with a small sample to identify any issues before full-scale implementation.

  5. Recruit Participants: Depending on your chosen methodology, recruit participants who represent your target audience. This may involve partnering with healthcare facilities, patient advocacy groups, or using online platforms for recruitment. Ensure that participants understand the purpose of the research and provide informed consent.

  6. Collect Data: Conduct your research according to the chosen methodology. Capture relevant data from participants through surveys, interviews, or group discussions. Maintain consistency and accuracy in data collection procedures to ensure reliable results.

  7. Analyze Data: Once data collection is complete, analyze the collected data using appropriate analytical techniques. Identify patterns, trends, and insights that emerge from the data. Use statistical analysis software or qualitative analysis methods to interpret the findings.

  8. Draw Conclusions: Based on the data analysis, draw conclusions that address your research objectives. Summarize key findings and insights gleaned from the research. Identify implications for healthcare providers, policymakers, or product developers based on the research findings.

  9. Report Findings: Prepare a comprehensive report detailing the research methodology, key findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Present the report in a clear and concise manner, using visual aids such as charts, graphs, and tables to enhance understanding.

  10. Take Action: Use the insights gained from the patient market research to inform decision-making and strategy development. Implement changes or initiatives based on the research findings to better meet the needs of patients and improve healthcare outcomes.

  11. Monitor and Iterate: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of any changes or initiatives implemented as a result of the research. Collect feedback from patients and stakeholders to assess impact and identify areas for further improvement. Iterate on your approach as needed to ensure ongoing relevance and effectiveness.


Benefits of Using a Patient Market Research Company

Conflicted about whether to use a third-party research team to help you with your patient satisfaction surveys? 

We’ll help you with that decision. 

While a healthcare facility could conduct market research with doctors and physicians internally, it’s not ideal.

When you want a survey that actually yields good feedback, it’s best to let the experts handle the work. This not only allows for solid survey data, but it allows the healthcare team to focus on what they do best: helping people!

We’ll put it like this: there are loads of benefits of using a third-party market research firm, but we’ll list off some of our favorites for you. 


If your healthcare facility ran an internal survey for patients, there’s a lack of objectivity. Sure, you can try your best to act as if you’re a third party, but it’s going to be hard to differentiate yourself from your patient feedback. 

After all, the patients are what keep your facility functioning–what they say may hit you on a different level than it would an outside team. 

It’s likely some of the feedback you’ll receive may be negative–and that’s okay. However, it’s a lot more constructive when being delivered to you in a report from an outside team versus reading it first-hand as it comes in. 

You Save Time 

As we touched on earlier, market research is best handled by the pros–like us. 

As a medical facility, there’s already little downtime for additional projects that aren’t directly related to helping your patients. And patient satisfaction in healthcare is everything–you don’t want to take away from that. 

Whether or not you have a marketing or related team that could help run a survey, it could still be sucking time away from other necessary tasks. 

When hiring an outsourced market research company, you’re not only getting professional results–you’re saving yourself a large chunk of time, too. 

Quality Research Tools

The best research is done when high-quality tools and methods are involved. 

Internal teams rarely have this.

This is not an insult, simply a fact–as a facility that specializes in healthcare, there’s no reason you should have access to market research tools. But trust us, you’ll want them when it comes to getting patient feedback. 

Low-quality data won’t help anyone, and you may as well not even run a survey at that point. Third-party teams have a variety of methods and processes to run data through. This ensures the client receives the best data that will yield actionable results. 

Example Patient Market Research Study

Patient satisfaction surveys, sometimes referred to as patient affinity surveys, are a common methodology in healthcare market research.

Our healthcare market research firm recently conducted this type of survey for a medical practice.

This section will outline the objectives, the approach, and conclude with the patient satisfaction survey results.

Commercial Patient Affinity Survey Objectives

Up to 68% of patients think their providers need to up their game when it comes to interaction. The topics our specific healthcare survey covered all play into how a practice can improve the overall patient experience. 

Drive Research was hired to conduct a survey with commercial patients of a medical practice.

The patient survey addressed the following core objectives:

  1. Patient loyalty to the primary care physician (PCP)
  2. Patient loyalty to the medical practice
  3. Patient loyalty to their current insurance carrier
  4. Likelihood and motivations to switch physicians 

The patient satisfaction survey explored opportunities for new insurance products for patients and an understanding of the value of health care in the medical practice. There were also secondary objectives addressed by the research study. 

The healthcare market research gathered an honest perspective on metrics through a third-party lens. The outcomes of the market research aided the client with operations, marketing, and strategy.

Approach to the Patient Satisfaction Survey

In order to collect survey responses, Drive Research followed the following process:

  1. Program the survey into our online software system.
  2. Review the survey with our internal testing team.
  3. Send a link to the medical practice so their team can test the survey and request any changes.
  4. Create an email requesting patients of the medical practice to respond to the satisfaction survey.
  5. Soft-launch the email survey - here's why.
  6. Fully launch the email patient satisfaction survey.
  7. Analyze the results as they are submitted.
  8. Send a reminder email to patients of the medical practice.
  9. Close fieldwork and clean the survey data

It’s essential that a market research team has a programming checklist for surveys. This ensures the project runs smoothly and gathers clear data. 

Fieldwork for the patient survey began on March 11 and lasted until March 19, 2020.

The commercial survey took an average of 10 minutes to complete and included 38 questions. The survey received 469 completes. 

Analyzing the Patient Satisfaction Survey Results 

The report included a background and methodology, an executive summary of themes, an infographic, respondent persona, recommendations, and the next steps for market research. The appendix included a detailed question-by-question breakdown of the results.

The executive summary answered the following questions:

  1. Are commercial patients satisfied with the medical practice?
  2. Are commercial patients satisfied with their PCP?
  3. Do commercial patients trust their PCP?
  4. Why would commercial patients switch?
  5. Are commercial patients satisfied with their insurance carrier?
  6. Are commercial patients interested in additional services? 

The reliability of this data is high.

At the 95% confidence interval, the margin of error for these results is +/- 4.5%. This means if the survey was conducted with another 469 random commercial patients, results would yield within +4.5% or -4.5% of the totals 95 out of 100 times.

Contact Our Patient Satisfaction Company 

Drive Research is a full-service market research company. Our experts work with healthcare facilities and medical practices across the country to deliver the insights and data they need to improve the patient experience.

The patient satisfaction project above relayed clear data and actionable insight on how the client could move forward with their new information. 

Interested in partnering with our team on a similar project? Contact us today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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