Shawn Oreschnick knows that understanding customers’ needs is paramount for any business, medtech or otherwise. But in the medtech space, identifying the “customer” can be complicated. Oreschnick, recently named director of analytics and research of Logic PD, advises that companies spend time discussing who the customer really is, whether it be the hospital purchasers, the practitioners (nurses and physicians) or the patients (consumer), or a combination of all three.
There is added complexity in medtech, because of the multiple stakeholders, he told Medical Design & Outsourcing, but the principles of research are the same.
“My principle concern is helping customers understand their customers, whatever the sector,” Oreschnick told us, noting that companies don’t use enough of the tools available to help them to really understand customers.
“There are qualitative and quantitative tools that can make an immense difference,” he said, citing the example of a Logic PD customer developing an electronic medical device for the consumer market.
“The company had made all kinds of assumptions about what the customers would need,” he explained.
Oreschnik’s team sent out a single survey (quantitative research) to target customers and gain insight into their needs. The results surprised his client, he said, including a preference for a completely different price point than the designers were planning.
“They had simply made some assumptions that hadn’t been validated and our findings were different from those assumptions,” Oreschnick said.
The survey also helped identify which device features were of value to users. But most importantly, it changed the business model the company was working toward. Instead of a sales plan that would involve the client going directly to users, the survey helped them decide to appeal to more professional users first, and build out from there.
“That’s a big change, and one that we think will help the company be successful with the product where they might have failed otherwise,” Oreschnick said, noting the effect of just one survey.
For qualitative research, guided interviews, group sessions and workshops are common techniques, he added. Many companies overlook social media, he noted, which can be a source of insight into user’s habits and preferences, particularly disease networks and conversation boards. Oreschnick also said it’s important to consider and analyze the use environment.
“Of course, you want to talk to people who are going to be using the device, but you also want to better understand the environment and how it changes that environment, such as how users will charge the device, etc.,” he explained.
Finally, Oreschnick says to consider how the device fits into the value chain.
“You have to think about how a product informs cost savings, but also, how to calculate the value of your device, based not just on savings but on clinical effect.”