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Health Care Research Insights From NESHCo 2015

healthcare marketing research

It’s been a full week since we’ve been back to our day jobs following the annual New England Society for Healthcare Communications Spring Conference. The swanky “Shaken and Stirred” theme allowed us to moonlight with the Rat Pack in Old Vegas. During the heyday of Frank, Sammy Jr. and the rest – they had fun but were on top of their games. So, it’s time to reflect on what we learned to stay on top of ours.

There were some usual suspects:

  • A continued shift to digital as organizations’ new front door and critical 1st impression-makers. While digital and social is now expected, many hospitals are still figuring it out.
  • The emerging need to internally market the success of your digital marketing to put traditional media-minded C-Suite or physicians at ease.

The most refreshing focus for us, however, was one on research, and how it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Often, we see hospitals and health care systems forgo research out of sticker shock, facing the reality of tightening budgets. This year, engaging speakers demonstrated how you could develop right-fit research solutions that will meet your needs and your budget.

We discussed endless research opportunities and combinations that can be crafted to address any need. The important thing is to take the right steps upfront to make sure you’re engaging the right research, for the right price, at the right time.

Here are 6 tips to help you accomplish just that:

  1. Ask the right questions – What gap are we trying to fill? What don’t we know? If you’re unsure of the right questions, qualitative research can help you determine them before diving into quantitative research.
  2. See the bigger picture – Keep objectives in mind. How will this help complete or inform my overall strategy or approach? When is this research best conducted? Can it be combined with other research needs?
  3. Focus on the “correct” respondents – Have a firm understanding of your target audience and define your sample before selecting an approach or writing questions. Lack of target focus at the onset can lead to overspending in the field.
  4. Identify a best-fit approach – Objectives, target sample and budget will help determine which combination of the many types of research will meet your needs.
  5. Keep it actionable – Have a plan for exactly how you intend to use the research results and understand the purpose and next step for every question.
  6. Don’t forget the cost effective, information-rich in depth interviews (IDIs) – In a time and budget pinch, IDI’s can provide fast qualitative input at a low cost in order to make sure you’re still gathering valuable target input. This is especially useful for internal, government or peer audiences.

Actionable research, diligently crafted will always be money well spent in the face of shrinking budgets.

We know there were plenty of conversations about other topics on the Twitter hashtag (#NESHCo2015), at the Lamplighter Awards Reception and during the breaks. We would love to hear what everyone else was buzzing about.  All in all, it was a terrific conference shaken and stirred NESHCo-Style.

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