Why Should I Hire an Outside Market Research Firm?

Most marketing professionals are very knowledgeable about their marketplace. This is their passion, their focus and their life’s work. The nature of this closeness to the market, however, may result in difficulties with observing subtle changes in market thinking. Because marketing managers are focused on their target market, they may not take a step back to take a more global view.

Good marketing professionals have relationships with key thought leaders in their field, who may themselves be biased in their views. Marketers often spend a lot of time conversing with a small segment of the market on a routine basis and do not obtain the opinions of the larger, more diverse market.

Unbiased Market Assessment

Unhampered by the corporate culture, a marketing research firm can provide an objective, unbiased view. Often, research firms confirm the company’s market assessment, but if they do not, they are not politically at risk for providing dissenting, non-party line opinions.

Example: My research company was conducting focus groups for a medical firm developing a battery-operated resection device. When the surgeons saw this product, they disliked it. It had few redeeming features and was considered awkward to use. The surgeons summed up the product by calling the design… “Mickey Mouse.” I reported this product review back to my client and although he was disappointed to get the news, he thanked me for uncovering the surgeon’s honest assessment. A company employee could have been rebuked for providing such a dissenting opinion. This unbiased research led to a product which never made it to market and saved the company thousands of dollars in product development.

Company-Blinded Research

There are times when a company wants to gather market data secretly. They do not want to tip their hand as to the technology they are investigating. Additionally, they would like to prevent their competitors from picking up any clues about their market direction. This is particularly true when developing new products. A company must be able to test new ideas without their customers or competition identifying them as the developer. One certainly would not have wanted their company name associated with that “Mickey Mouse” product, even though it never got to market. Market research firms provide anonymity and do not reveal the name of their clients.

Example: When telephone interviewing physicians, many want to know which company is behind the research. As interviewers, we tell them that the client company name cannot be divulged for fear of biasing the research. If the physician persists, we tell them jokingly, “We could tell you the company name, but then we would have to kill you.” That usually gets the point across.

There are two major reasons why companies hire outside market research firms: (1) for unbiased information gathering and (2) for blinded research.

The most common motives for conducting research are to assess a new technology, validate a product design, develop a value proposition, gather competitive intelligence, uncover product or service improvements desired by customers, and investigate a company’s image in the marketplace.

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Top Innovative Medical Devices of 2017     

The Galien Foundation presents an annual award for the most innovative medical devices, biotechnology products and pharmaceutical agents. The top 10 innovative medical devices in 2017 according to the Galien Foundation are outlined here.

The Galien Foundation oversees and directs activities in the U. S. for the Prix Galien, an international award program that recognizes outstanding achievements in medical therapies and medical technologies. The Prix Galien was created in France in 1970 in honor of Galen, the father of medical science and modern pharmacology, and includes a committee of prestigious scientists and clinicians. The Prix Galien is regarded as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in biopharmaceutical and medical technology research.

2017: Top Innovative Medical Devices (in alphabetical order)

BrainScope One (BrainScope Co.)
BrainScope One is an FDA-cleared comprehensive head injury assessment device which enables urgent care physicians to objectively assess brain injuries, including concussions. The device measures and interprets brain electrical activity and neurocognitive function for physicians to make clinical diagnoses. It is handheld, non-invasive and can be used on patients 18 years or older within three days of a head injury.

CardioMEMS Heart Failure Monitoring System (St. Jude Medical/Abbott)
The CardioMEMS heart failure monitoring system is designed for comprehensive heart failure care. The system provides direct pulmonary artery (PA) pressure monitoring using an implantable sensor, patient electronics system and website to manage patient data. Patient-initiated sensor readings are wirelessly transmitted to an electronics unit and stored in a secure website for clinicians to access and review. It is the only FDA-approved heart failure monitoring system. It has been shown to reduce heart failure admissions by 33% over an 18 month period, according to the company.

Evarrest Fibrin Sealant Patch (Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon)
This flexible sealant patch has a mechanical structure for integrated clot formation and is designed for general hemostasis. Thousands of woven fibers and active human biologics work together to stop bleeding in tumor bed, liver resection and aortic reconstruction in three minutes. When applied, blood passes through the patch and clot formation begins at the bleeding surface and within the patch. The adhesives on the patch form a tight physical seal with tissue. The patch is fully absorbed in eight weeks.

Exablate Neuro (Insightec)
This ultrasound device that has been approved the by FDA to treat medication refractory essential tremor patients using non-invasive MR-guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy. It targets and treats deep within the brain through the skull. The transducers focus ultrasound waves to create enough heat to ablate a targeted tissue. When performed, there has been shown to be an immediate and significant reduction in hand tremors.

Juvederm Vorbella XC (Allergan)
This product is a  lip filler which adds subtle volume to the lips and smooths vertical lip lines. According to the company, 80% of people who receive the treatment have improved satisfaction with their lips one year later while 75% experience improved satisfaction with vertical lip lines one year later.

Koning Breast CT 1000 (Koning Corp.)
This system takes 3D images of the breast with spatial resolution and without painful compression. It is designed to help diagnose breast cancer. The patient is exposed to radiation levels in the range of diagnostic mammograms in a rapid 10-second exposure. The Real 3D technology provides isotropic images for the evaluation of tissues from any angle, eliminating overlapping structure.

Omnigraft Dermal Regeneration Matrix (Integra LifeSciences)
This product is an advanced bilayer dermal regeneration matrix that treats diabetic foot ulcers. It is the only FDA-approved product that can regenerate native dermal tissue. The patch has a built-in silicone layer that serves as a temporary epidermal layer and provides immediate coverage for wound protection. Under the silicone layer is a collagen/chrondroitin-6-sulfate matrix that acts as a dermal replacement layer. It is a bioengineered scaffold that promotes dermal regeneration and is designed with a controlled porosity and degradation rate.

Spyglass DS Direct Visualization System (Boston Scientific)
The direct visualization system is used for cholangiopancreatoscopy – the examination of the bile ducts using an endoscope. It is designed to optimize procedural efficiency and productivity with improved setup, ease of use and image quality. A single operator can perform a procedure, and guide devices that can examine, diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary conditions.

Thermocool Smart Touch SF Catheter (Biosense Webster)
The recently launched SF Catheter will optimize efficiency by cooling at half the flow rate of other irrigated catheters. It is the only approved device that pairs contact force technology with a porous tip. It can be integrated into the company’s Carto 3 System that uses force technology, 3D mapping and advanced navigation capabilities to give active measurements of stable contact force and catheter location.

Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device (Boston Scientific)
The device can potentially reduce the risk of stroke in non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) patients. It has been proven to be a safe and effective alternative to oral anticoagulants and can reduce the risk of bleeding with warfarin use.  The device is designed to reduce the risk of thromboembolism from the left atrial appendage in patients who have NVAF and who have an increased risk of stroke and systemic embolism.

Reference: “The Most Innovative Medical Devices of 2017″, Danielle Kirsh, Medical Design & Outsourcing, Oct. 20, 2017.

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Who is making the Hospital Purchasing Decision NOW? 

Many of today’s purchasing decisions are made by a Hospital’s Value Analysis Committee (VAC). Their role is to reduce hospital product, service, and technology costs while maintaining quality.

Value analysis is a process where clinicians evaluate products and services to drive down costs. A number of large hospitals now have VACs in each department or hospital specialty area. While some hospitals will approve products pending a trial period, others will recommend a product for purchase only after the trial results have been evaluated by the hospital’s VAC committee.

Most VACs use a value-based purchasing approach. This approach examines clinical benefit, impact on quality improvement, and patient outcome and cost effectiveness. It is believed that purchasers buying on quality, service, and cost will move toward a more value-driven system.

What can suppliers and medical manufacturers do?

 

  1.  Prepare a value proposition

Develop a value proposition for your product based on the hospital’s needs. Make sure you understand the purchase process of the specific hospital, the hospital’s purchasing strategy, and their ultimate goals. These goals may include cost containment, improving patient quality, lessening hospital length of stay, and reducing readmissions.

 

  1.  Provide clinician champions with presentation-

ready information.

Since clinicians are the ones making the presentations to the VAC, they may not be prepared for the scrutiny they will receive. Many clinicians are not comfortable in this role. Medical companies should arm the physicians with the information they need to make the value-based pitch.

 

  1.  Be patient and follow up often

A complete value and financial assessment takes time. Often, new products and technologies must be submitted to the VAC four to six weeks in advance of the presentation to allow for a thorough financial assessment. Follow up with the clinician champion on a regular basis to keep apprised of the purchase decision status.

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What is Hospital Value-Based Purchasing?

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 established the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) initiative (effective FY 2013), affecting over 3500 U.S. hospitals. This initiative was focused on rewarding those hospitals that provide quality of care to Medicare patients versus the traditional quantity of procedures (i.e., “fee for service”).

Initially, the program measured how well the standard of “best clinical practices” was being met. It also quantified patient experiences. The Patient Experience Questionnaire currently measures pain management, clinician communication, discharge education, and overall hospital responsiveness. Later this year, additional parameters, such as outcome-based processes and clinical efficiencies, will be measured. Incentive payments for compliance will be phased in from 2013 to 2017.

After submitting 12-month performance data to the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS), the hospital will receive a score which determines its incentive payment. Some hospitals may receive low scores and therefore no incentive payments. Each hospital’s result will impact its bottom line for years.

As hospitals change the way they have been providing healthcare, the medical device industry must change as well. Medical companies may need to qualify and quantify the entire product value proposition in order to sell their products. It is now imperative to focus on the value of a product in helping the hospital achieve improvements and meet its goals.

How will you respond to the opportunities and challenges of Hospital Value-Based Purchasing?

The stakes are high, the metrics are evolving, and changes are here to stay. Medical Market Consulting can assist you in several ways including: (1) Customer research to determine how your products could enhance the hospital’s ability to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes; (2) Competitive analysis to determine how your competitors are responding to this challenge; (3) Market assessment to understand how physicians will relate product use to patient outcomes.

Medical Market Consulting can help you remain current and forward-thinking in your business planning.

References:
http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/hospital-value-based-purchasing/index.html?redirect=/hospital-value-based-purchasing

http://www.hospitalmedicine.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PracticeResources/HVBPToolkit/LegislativeBackground/content.htm

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2014: Changes in the Way Hospitals are Buying Medical Products

In the past hospitals have looked to medical companies to help them improve patient care.
Are these companies able to help meet hospital’s cost reduction challenges as well?

A Changing Landscape
The healthcare market is undergoing dramatic change. Health care providers are under extreme pressure to reduce costs and improve care. The old business paradigms no longer apply.

Hospitals are responding to these pressures through strategic mergers, employing physicians, working directly with insurers and sharing the risks of health coverage. From 2009 to 2012 hospital mergers doubled. In the last year, the number of physicians employed by hospitals rose by 6%.

A Changing Purchasing Process
Now hospitals are evaluating expenditures in new ways that are having a profound impact on suppliers. Hospitals’ Value Assessment Committees (VAC) are reviewing product purchases based on both clinical need and cost efficiency. What was once a physician decision is now a physician recommendation to the VAC where cost is weighed heavily.

VACs include clinicians, nurses and hospital administrators (Finance, Purchasing, CEO/CFOs). They evaluate a product based on clinical benefit, cost-effectiveness, and patient outcomes. VAC and hospital C-Suite executives are becoming the gatekeepers for new technology and medical device purchase.

A Changing Value Proposition
So, how does this sea change impact the way medical companies position their products for sale to hospitals?

Companies must present a highly compelling value proposition by making a strong case for positively affecting one of these areas: patient outcomes, length of hospital stay, OR turnaround time, complication rate, safety, accuracy, ease of use, or return on investment.

Because hospitals have different focuses, cultures, management and revenue goals, it is important to know what value proposition will resonate most effectively. Medical companies will want to use the most effective messages in positioning their product.

A Changing Research Model
For many years, medical companies have been conducting research with physicians and medical professionals. Now, these companies must also understand how VAC and C-Suite executives will evaluate their products.

Voice of the Customer research is now more challenging. Reaching out to C-Suite executives requires a research team that has experience in the new paradigm. The research team must be prepared to discuss with CEO/CFOs these new and different value propositions.

The Medical Market Consulting team has been conducting research with hospital C-Suite executives for the past 5 years and has developed proven methods for obtaining answers to the most complex value proposition questions.

In total, MMC has been providing consulting services to medical companies for more than 20 years, specializing in Voice of the Customer research, new product launch, business development and strategic planning. When developing your value propositions, you will want a seasoned research team to help you identify the messages which will be most effective with the C-Suite executives.

Please contact MMC to discuss how we can help you develop your value propositions.
Call Barbara Turkington at 978-582-7072 or email medical.market@comcast.net.

References:
2013 Physician Outlook and Practice Trends, Jackson Healthcare. http://www.jacksonhealthcare.com/media/191888/2013physiciantrends-void_ebk0513.pdf

The NY Times, “A Wave of Hospital Mergers”, August 12, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/13/business/A-Wave-of-Hospital-Mergers.html

The future of Healthcare; “Wall Street Journal”. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204319004577084553869990554

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INNOVATION: Patient Care in the Future

Intermountain Healthcare’s Transformation Lab is researching and developing new ideas to improve and optimize patient care. Some of the Lab projects already underway include the following: Continue reading

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INNOVATION in Prostate Cancer Surgery

The Rise of Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of death among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations. However, with advancements in cancer screening and treatment, the death rate for prostate cancer is declining. Continue reading

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2013 Top 5 Medical Innovations

This year’s successful medical innovations will be ones that provide significant health care efficiencies for medical professionals and hospitals/medical centers. But beyond providing healthcare benefits and positive patient outcomes, these innovations will also need to result in cost reductions.

The most promising technologies this year will enhance medical diagnosis, address chronic diseases, treat conditions minimally invasively and reduce patients’ dependence on medications. Continue reading

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Tracking Migraines on Mobile Devices

Innovative Approaches to Today’s Health Care Issues
There are many types and causes of migraines and they can be troublesome to identify and treat. Migraines may be induced by triggers – dietary, environmental and psychological and may be affected by many variables.

By tracking migraine episodes, triggers, and treatments, patients have more information to share with their doctors and nurses to assist in the analysis of their migraines. Tracking this data is now being done by a program developed by Ubiqi Health. Continue reading

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What do your customers really want?

Regardless of what specialty you are in….you need to know what your customers want and expect from you. This is particularly true in the sometimes uncertain healthcare environment. In this marketplace it is important that leaders of medical device companies understand the needs of their customers, hospitals, medical facilities, surgicenters, physician groups, GPO’s,  etc. Continue reading

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