By Andrea Ruttenberg, Ph.D.
At Applied Marketing Science (AMS), we work with many healthcare companies who sell their products and services to doctors and hospitals. Our clients are good at what they do, and most have developed sophisticated strategies to ensure they’re meeting the needs of their customers. However, many companies overlook an important role in the medical value chain – the patient. This is especially true for companies who sell to doctors and hospitals, and never directly interact with those receiving medical care.
But, by ignoring the perspective of the patient (as shared directly by the patient, not as provided second hand through their medical providers), companies may be overlooking an important input for disruptive innovation.
There are many benefits to talking directly to patients, including:
- Increasing your credibility when selling your product or providing support to your customers, by being able to speak intelligently to hospitals and doctors about the problems their patients face as they interact with the medical system
- Understanding how different patients experience the medical system differently by building patient personas, which may help you update or modify your existing offerings to suit the needs of more people
- Expanding your thinking beyond your traditional offerings, by uncovering patient needs that you can develop solutions to address directly, rather than through doctors and hospitals
- Developing a greater sense of empathy for patients who benefit from your product or service, which may spur more creative solutions to their medical problems
An Example: Knee Replacements
More than 600,000 total knee replacements are performed annually in the US, making it one of the most common major surgical procedures. But how can hospitals innovate and optimize the knee replacement patient experience to provide patients with the highest quality of care? What are the obstacles patients face? Are there potential areas for disruptive innovation?
AMS conducted interviews with pre-op and post-op patients to talk, in-depth, about their knee replacement journey. One important discovery was that patients need more education about their recovery. Many patients do not have a clear understanding of what they will / will not be able to do post-surgery, in both the short and long term. We were able to recommend several strategies to make recovery expectations as transparent and simple as possible. One strategy was to develop a class for those about to undergo a knee replacement, focusing specifically on recovery and other areas of concern. Although the class itself likely wouldn’t contribute significantly to hospital profits, it would likely increase goodwill with hospitals and rehab centers, effectively leading to more sales. Ultimately, this one patient-centric effort uncovered insights to build more effective sales and marketing strategies.
Learn more about using market research techniques to understand the patient experience in our recent webinar.