Market Research in Hospital Markets has become a Commodity Service, or hasn’t it?

Evidence-based decision making has become the rule in most medtech companies, and reliable market data is one of its essential components. As a result, market research became a standard part of the marketing toolkit and the BI industry has developed a broad array of data collection methods and research technologies to serve these needs.

The problem with market research in the healthcare markets seems to be resolved.

It is now easy; it is reliable; it is cost effective and it is quick.

All of the above apply in most cases, except for when it really matters.

To illustrate this statement, I like to use the concept of the business decision-cycle: every business decision basically runs through 6 phases. Each of those phases imposes specific requirements on the BI and the data collection related to it.

Business decision cycle

Business decision cycle
Business decision cycle

Phase 1:  To start with, one needs to know in which SANDBOX the game is played.
Identification and quantification of the components of the market environment is required. This phase is generally supported by desk research and/or run-off-the-mill market research.

Phase 2: One must identify the WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITIES.
It is essential to understand what future options are available. Here one wants answers to more complex questions, i.e. what is going to happen in the future, and why. Online research, multiple choice questionnaires, and/or standard respondent panels intend to accomplish this task.


– One needs the input from KOL’s; of high level stakeholders with a long term vision.
– One needs to understand the trends in technology, clinical application, financing mechanisms, industry intentions.

Phase 3: Understand which option will create sustainable VALUE and differentiation, and how.
The right decision will create value for the company. This requires sustainable differentiators and competitiveness, which implies creating value for the respective stakeholders related to care provision, such as hospital management, physicians, healthcare insurers, and patients.

Here one needs:

– To understand the care delivery chain and its complex context.
– To collect the inputs of stakeholders who are in a position to provide adequate feedback on the questions raised.

Phase 4: Make the final CHOICE and decide on the tactics, such as USP (Unique Selling Position), positioning, pricing, distribution, etc.
Again here, standard market research may be required.

Phase 5: Create a detailed PLAN for implementation of the tactics.

Phase 6: ACT according to the plan. Typically the need for BI is limited or absent.

The bottom line

In phase 2 and 3 of the decision-process (where it really matters), one needs market research of a different sort.

If one is attempting to identify opportunities, differentiation, sustainability, and or value creation, among other things – the ‘average’ respondent is no guarantee for success; the tick-the-boxes or web-based-questionnaires lack the necessary power to reveal the information one really needs.

Decision phase
Respondents challenge
Complexity of data collection

Large panels of healthcare (HC) professionals
Routine web based- or tel-interviews generating statistically reliable outcomes

Identification of -and access to- KOL’s, hospital managers, economic buyers, policy makers, and HC insurers
High level interviews based on discussion guides rather than on questionnaires, covering technology, clinical application and financial aspects

Identification of -and access to- heads of hospital departments, hospital managers, economic buyers, and policy makers
High level interviews with all stakeholders covering the care provision value chain, clinical practice, and organizational and financial influences

Large panels of HC professionals
Statistical reliable outcomes





Having recognized these challenges, TforG heavily invests in:

  • A relationship program with selected KOL’s and professionals in the hospitals, HC insurers and understanding government contexts. This allows an easy identification and access to the right people.
  • A performant discussion guide routine, assuring that we ask the right questions, and that we are in the right framework to provide the required insights into the market.
  • A full-time and well-trained global field research team, that masters the required level of knowledge about technology/products, clinical practice and the HC organization of the country we research.

This is one of the reasons why many BI companies and consultants worldwide turn to TforG to conduct the data collection, involving very high level profiles, complex topics and personal interviewing.

TforG Connect
TforG Connect


TforG CONNECT is the division within TforG that assists other consultants with their complex data collection requirements in over 40 countries.

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About Bart Van den Mooter

Bart is the founder of TforG and works closely together with over 50 global companies such as Abbott, Baxter, GE, J&J, Medtronic, Philips, Stryker and Covidien. In this function, he spends a lot time with Key Opinion Leaders and Health Policy makers in Europe and in Emerging Markets. He graduated at the Polytechnic University of Leuven with a Master of Engineering and has an MBA (Flanders Business School).