Vantage Point: new era of marketing research

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For years, healthcare marketing research has begun with a proposal and ended with a final report containing “conclusions” and “recommendations.” A group other than the marketing research team, often an agency, would then implement the recommendations, frequently by selection or modification of various promotional pieces such as detail aids and advertisements.

But we are entering a new era. We are at the precipice of the generic cliff, the world is moving toward personalized medicine, and e-prescribing and patient records are coming to fruition. All of this in the face of a relatively minimalistic healthcare reform bill stalled in Congress and a healthcare system costing one-sixth of the GDP that is still going broke.

What does this mean for marketing research? The trend toward decreasing spend on promotional research will continue. Look for teams of marketing researchers and designers to produce usable healthcare tools, not conclusions and recommendations, and not changes in advertising copy.

These information-based tools, using digital media such as touch-screen computers and PDAs, will help healthcare become more effective and efficient. We will work on such issues as patient-compliance programs, assisting physicians in digesting the voluminous information required by personalized medicine, helping nonphysician caregivers shoulder more of the workload, and motivating patients in their pursuit of wellness rather than dealing with illness.

To pursue these goals, we will develop and use new methodologies for determining information-consumption patterns and information needs. And we will communicate with our colleagues to turn our findings into useful tools, not just recommendations. 

Richard Vanderveer is CEO of GfK Healthcare

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