Role of market research applied to the development of digital portals for healthcare professionals

By now, we all know the importance of digital, and the digital acceleration in which we have been immersed since the COVID-19 crisis began last March. However, we ask ourselves a question: How to get health professionals, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, etc. are interested in our content and initiatives, at a time when we cannot count on the full capacity of face-to-face visits by commercial delegates?

As always, the key is to know the needs of professionals, those that explain their current behaviors and that we will attend to with our products, content, initiatives and services. For us, this involves establishing a good starting point or diagnosis, which we will achieve by giving weight to qualitative market research. Only in this way will we be able to design relevant initiatives that have a positive impact on our brand image, that are of interest, that are expected and valued.

Indeed, the pandemic has given a boost to the requests of our customers and non-customers to develop or optimize a digital portal for the health professional, be it a doctor or a pharmacist, motivated especially by the restrictions on face-to-face visits by delegates from pharmaceutical laboratories to health centers and pharmacies.

The situation we are presented with is usually:

● “We have a website, but professionals do not visit it as much as we expected.”

● “We don’t have any digital space aimed at healthcare professionals”, what are other pharmaceutical companies doing?

In both scenarios, we ask ourselves, how to achieve a relevant and reliable web page for health professionals that, in addition, has a positive impact on the image of the brand?

We understand that the key is to fully understand the needs of professionals. We will achieve it in 3 steps:

  1. Qualitative market research tells us the reason for the behavior and emotions linked to their actions, being the origin of the design of relevant and reliable actions and content.
  2. Benchmarking helps detect trends and strategies used by the industry.
  3. Apply strategic thinking that any action will be working in favor of the image and positioning defined for the brand and the business.

Today we will focus on Qualitative Market Research.

In recent years there has been a boom in the designers of the digital customer experience (user experience = UX), which is advisable and necessary, but it works for us to recover a previous step: talk to professionals, long and hard, to understand not only how they behave, but why they behave as they do. That is, understand what needs they are covering with that behavior.

For it to work, it is essential to ask the questions correctly: it is not just a question of knowing if they use UpToDate or PubMed, how often they use it or what type of content they consult there, but, above all, of understanding what need that is covering. channel and because they consider it a practical and reliable source (two aspects that we know are essential for health professionals).

It must be taken into account that there are no “digital needs”, that is, there are “needs” and currently these can be covered online or offline, so it is important to ask about their needs, regardless of whether they are currently covered online. or offline. The investigation must have a 360º approach.

Once we identify the needs of the health professional, we can focus the research on proposing possible “touchpoints” (channels, spaces, initiatives) and find out if they fit and when. Among other potential touchpoints, this is a good time to ask about the role of portals for healthcare professionals: which ones do they know about, what value do they bring to them, and how often do they use them? It is also convenient to ask about initiatives of the laboratory itself, to find out if they are aware of them, what opinion they deserve and have had a positive impact on the image of the brand.

This is when we realize that, for the initiative to have a positive impact on the image of the brand, it is not enough that it meets the expectations of the professional, but rather it is necessary to surprise the professional with initiatives that exceed their expectations. And this, which seems so complex to achieve, does not depend so much on the creativity of the laboratory’s marketing team, but rather on having correctly diagnosed the true needs of professionals in their daily work.

Delving into the needs of the target will allow us to identify behaviors, which will help us build profiles, the “customer personas”. Finding out how professionals solve their needs, what channels or initiatives they use, the “touchpoints” will help us build the “customer journey”, which in turn will allow us to draw our GAPS and also our opportunities.

In summary, qualitative research will help us to:

● Find out the needs of the health professional and how he currently addresses them
● Identify possible paths and differentiated alternatives for our initiative
● The possible digital integration with the “customer facing” teams.
● Trace the “customer journey” focused on the role of the website that we want to develop.

Qualitative research, the development of the industry benchmark and the value proposition of the brand or business will help define the strategy and differential value proposition of our portal and establish the steps to develop it.

Eva Velasco, General Director at IDE360; and Victoria Scarpato, Market Research Consultant

Article published in MPFarma in October 2020: