Why begin with secondary research?  

Think of secondary research as table stakes for understanding the market realities that will affect your management decision. 

The cost of secondary research is relatively low, it’s comprehensive and data-driven, and it may even eliminate the need for additional primary research. By definition, secondary research collects and analyzes data and information that has been previously collected for another purpose.

Common types of secondary data sources are:  

Government publications Libraries
Internet searches  Directories
Proprietary databases Health data & statistics
Company information Physician & hospital  utilization data

Health care secondary research sources are wide-ranging and include websites such as:  

—  FierceHealthCare:  www.fiercehealthcare.com

—   HealthLeaders Media:  www.healthleadersmedia.com

—  Healthcare Finance News:  www.healthfinancenews.com

—  Kaiser Family Foundation:  www.kkf.org

—  AdvaMed medical technology:  www.advamed.org

—  Bioworld Today biopharmaceutical news:  www.bioworld.com 

—  American Medical Association data:  www.ama-assn.org

—  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data:  www.cms.gov 

Here are some examples of health management questions and the secondary marketing research studies that answered them:

1. How can an academic medical center increase its sports medicine market share?

We used a large number of local and national sports medicine data sources to quantify the total available market, market segmentation, reimbursement environment, competition, and market opportunities and threats the targeted MSA.

The resulting 40-page report marketing research report served as the Situation Analysis for the AMC sports medicine marketing plan. The report data and information were the basis of the plan’s strategic positioning, product, pricing, channels, and promotion strategies and tactics.


2. Should a heart hospital open a new physician practice or buy an established practice to grow revenue?

Our forecast showed a marked decrease in inpatient cardiovascular cases and a corresponding increase in lower revenue producing outpatient procedures. The biggest competitor in this affluent bedroom community was a well-regarded general acute care hospital. 

Consumer out-migration for cardiac surgery to a large urban area was 12%. In analyzing market demand for cardiovascular physicians, there was a 26% physician oversupply. An analysis of local physician data ranked physicians by patient volume, revenue, and procedures.  

We recommended that the heart hospital meet with the three leading cardiovascular physicians to discuss changing hospital affiliations. The market analysis served as a negotiation tool because the hospital understand the true value of the physician practices.   

3. How many customers are using this health information company’s products? 

No one in the company knew the actual number. This health information company was started 20 years ago, and as a stereotypical entrepreneurial venture driven by sales, little thought was given to organizing management systems and reporting. Now it was about to issue an IPO, and details became important. The customer number problem was the tip of the iceberg. New customers were regularly added to the lists like billing and support, but former customers who stopped being customers were not removed from the lists.  

We used secondary research to methodically solve this problem. We called every so-called customer and confirmed if they were or were not an actual customer. The names of the products they had purchased were recorded. Contact information including names, titles, phone numbers, and emails were updated.   

The second phase of the project was to “clean” a number of customer prospect databases and create a master. This took much longer because the data was less accurate and much more incomplete. The research included finding names and matching titles on company websites, LinkedIn, and various industry directories. Calls were also made to prospect organizations to verify all of this information.

Since most sales people view regular database maintenance as a very low priority because of the time it takes away from selling, there is a need for secondary marketing research in many health companies.