Healthcare market research on the brink of a second revolution

Henry Gazay

Medimix International

Mobile health is a hot topic at the moment. Henry Gazay discusses how the healthcare industry has finally begun to understand that it can use the new mobile technology to its advantage in areas such as healthcare market research.

No, I don’t have a crystal ball, but…..

I have long had a fascination with computer technology, and quite early on while still in university, I realised that online technology was going to revolutionize the way market research was then conducted.

The first market research revolution was in online surveys. Online was quick, cost-efficient, could be used for both qualitative and quantitative, had a global reach that didn’t require travel, and was preferred by busy professionals.

Internet usage was the key to market research with professionals but was also rapidly becoming a unique source of health information for the public as a whole.

So what is this second revolution in market research?

The healthcare industry is just beginning to assimilate the effects of social media, crowd sourcing, and big data, yet already moving on to newer developments: online research using mobile and digital technology. Maybe not a firestorm, but a quickly moving wave that will either lift our boats or swamp them, if we don’t get in the flow.


“…developing nations are adopting mobile health technology at a faster pace than developed countries…”


The statistics for mobile phone usage support this vision. In fact, developing nations are adopting mobile health technology at a faster pace than developed countries, such as the U.S.

“Around three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone” according to a report from the World Bank and Info Dev.


HCP-Internet-Use-Henry-Gazay-MedimixFigure 1: Online, e-detailing and mobile usage by healthcare professionals1


What are the implications for healthcare market research?

Mobile devices are ubiquitous and cheaper than computers for the world’s citizens.

Conclusion: The need to capture customer feedback no longer depends on an Internet connection!

Even in the poorest of nations, the average person now has a mobile phone and finds ways to charge and connect (be it solar, wind, bicycle power, water generator). So mobile research can now reach into the farthest corners of the globe to get answers: reactions to branding efforts, compiling physical data, measuring and evaluating cultural differences, monitoring home treatments and therapy adoptions, treatment progressions, and more.

For the immediate moment, I think the real potential, easily accepted by traditional market researchers, lays in short, maybe five question surveys that provide rapid feedback from physicians and patients / customers alike.

Are there limitations?

There is definitely an element of fatigue that is creeping into online interactions. Most of us are beginning to feel overwhelmed by the need to read and constantly respond to a daily deluge of emails, tweets, and Facebook postings. One of the unintended consequences of this daily barrage is our shortening attention spans. We like quick sound bites and short Tweets!


“Most of us are beginning to feel overwhelmed by the need to read and constantly respond to a daily deluge of emails, tweets, and Facebook postings.”


Mobile surveys, therefore, are a good solution for capturing data in perhaps larger numbers, but with less detail. So what happens to the need to drill down for qualitative information? Perhaps here the perfect combination would be:

1) Initial mobile quantitative research, which allow us to,

2) Identify the known influencers or respondents willing to expand on their reactions in more detail,

3) Then follow-up with more traditional qualitative surveys online.

More possible applications of digital technology include:

• Web-Ethnography – smartphone apps that provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice. Monitor patient therapies and routines, measuring glucose levels, even check out suspicious moles, through apps and videos that feed back data. A way of measuring without interviewing.

• E-detailing – information that can be either downloaded or presented in person to physicians or administrators ensuring consistent, high quality, accurate sales presentations.

• Two-way conversations with KOL’s – opportunities for more in-depth, revealing conversations.

• EMRs – electronic medical records available to all professionals treating the patient.

• Neuromarketing &amp, brain wave measurement, including eye-gaze trackers – to evaluate ads

Are there any major barriers?

• Privacy concerns – maintaining security of any records produced.

• No standardization in programs for EMR’s – most are local based and they don’t “talk to each other”.


“Mobile surveys, therefore, are a good solution for capturing data in perhaps larger numbers, but with less detail.”


• Retrofitting programs geared for web doesn’t work – “Mobile is its own computing platform, and the service has to be rethought to work natively on the device.” Danny Rimer of Index Ventures.

• Small screen size a challenge – Evan Doll, Cofounder of Flipboard: “The fixed screen size, less powerful hardware and less generous bandwidth on mobile networks “force you to make simpler products”,…“It forces you to leave things out.”

• Concern about lack of FDA guidelines… (sound familiar?)

One of my favorite quotes that sums it all up is:

“Nowadays, the one who says something is impossible is generally interrupted by someone already doing it…”

If Google and Mark Zuckerberg, of Instagram and Facebook fame, have concluded that mobile devices is where the future lays, you know the direction we will all be taking in the near future!


1. Statistics from an EphMRA presentation 2012, by Medimix International



About the author:

Henry Gazay is a serial entrepreneur and a global healthcare marketing expert with over 20 years experience. He is the founder and CEO of Medimix International, a global life sciences market insights group that primarily serves the TOP 50 pharma companies through its 11 offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Henry also recently founded BuzzmedTM, the global network for healthcare professionals seeking peer-to-peer contact.

With a passion for innovation and a provocative vision for our industry, Henry has pioneered online marketing in the healthcare sector (mostly pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics), with experience in marketing, marketing research, CRM, sales force effectiveness and e-commerce.

Henry has received numerous awards and recognition of his career achievement and was recognized by PharmaVOICE as one of the 100 most inspiring people of the pharmaceutical industry in 2011.

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