Listening to your Patients with Quantitative and Qualitative Research

While many physicians have never thought of conducting a marketing research study for their private practice, it could be a great way to gain deep insights into the needs of your patient base. After assessing your need for research and forming your objective, the next step would be choosing what form of research would best suit your needs. For a quick background on research objectives, you can read my blog post on marketing research objectives. Two types of research that can be conducted are qualitative and quantitative.

 Quantitative research is quicker to conduct and involves a larger sample size; in some cases, there are thousands of participants. The data collected is numerical, and statistical inferences can be deduced from it. Quantitative research is usually used to confirm hypotheses. An excellent example of this within the healthcare industry is patient satisfaction surveys.

 Qualitative research is exploratory in nature and is used to uncover underlying themes within the research objectives. Qualitative research is meant to answer questions like why, when, and figuring out the motivations driving the respondents. The sample size used is much smaller than in quantitative research at about 6-10 participants. If qualitative research is conducted, it happens before quantitative experimentation, and its findings are used to guide the designing of the study’s surveys. Qualitative research allows the researchers to observe the respondents in person and understand what role their environment plays into how they view and react to a particular product or service. Forms of qualitative research that can be used are focus groups, interviews, and customer visits. For example, a Physician who has been receiving poor feedback on their patient’s in-office experience or is strongly critiqued on their bedside manner might consider a focus group with a random sample group. The study could uncover common underlying issues, and it could be followed up with a quantitative survey to determine if there is a consensus on the issues at hand.

Next Steps

The responsibility of conducting marketing research typically does not fall on the shoulders of a practicing physician but usually does have to be approved by the managing partners. It’s helpful to understand the benefits and types of research that can be conducted if the opportunity should arise. The background knowledge will also make understanding the marketing research consultants’ services and findings easier. Stay tuned for my next blog that will take a more in-depth look into qualitative research tools.