Slicing and Dicing Doctors

NOVEMBER 06, 2016
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA
Customer segmentation is about grouping user motivations and behaviors, marketing preferences and adoption patterns for a given product or service. Hospitals, entrepreneurs, biopharma, and medtech, for example, are all trying to figure out what makes their target customer segments tick to get maximal impact from their sales, marketing, information, educational and engagement strategies and tactics.
 
Deloitte has divided patients into six psychographic segments:
1. Casual and Cautious
2. Content and Compliant
3. Online and onboard
4. Sick and savvy
5. Out and about
6. Shop and save
 
Here are ways biopharma companies try to understand physician behavior as they relate to prescribing habits
 
There are many ways to get an advanced degree in ‘doctorology,’ using techniques that make you a data detective, journalist, anthropologist, impersonator, co-creator, or scientist.
 
Understanding the ABCDEs of physician technology adoption should help you segment the markets. A simple way to start is to rate PCPs, surgeons, non-surgeons and others on these criteria:
 
Attitudes: While the evidence may point one way, there is an attitude about whether the evidence pertains to a particular patient or is a reflection of a general bias against “cook book medicine”.
 
Behavior: We’re all creatures of habit and they are hard to change. Particularly for surgeons, the switching costs of adopting a new technology and running the risk of exposure to complications, lawsuits, and hassles simply isn’t worth the effort.
 
Cognition: Doctors may be unaware of a changing standard, guideline, or recommendation, given the enormous amount of information produced on a daily basis, or might have an incomplete understanding of the literature. Some may simply feel the guidelines are wrong or do not apply to a particular patient or clinical situation and just reject them outright.
 
Denial: Doctors sometimes deny that their results are suboptimal and in need of improvement, based on “the last case”. More commonly, they are unwilling or unable to track short term and long term outcomes to see if their results conform to standards.
 
Emotions: Perhaps the strongest motivator, fear of reprisals or malpractice suits, greed driving the use of inappropriate technologies that drive revenue, the need for peer acceptance to “do what everyone else is doing” or ego driving the opposite need to be on the cutting edge and winning the medical technology arms race or create a perceived marketing competitive advantage.
 
Economics: What is the opportunity cost of my time and expertise and what is the best way for me to optimize it?
 
However, given patient psychographics, preferences and infinite access to information on the Internet, slicing doctors is only half of the equation. Preference sensitive prescribing is the result of a negotiation between the doctor and the patient.
 
Physician segmentation, like all market research, has to be done right to derive valid conclusions that drive results. When done correctly, though, it gives you a key to some very complicated locks.
 


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