How To Test Medical Product Communications Effectiveness

How To Test Medical Product Communications Effectiveness

With all the great talent and funding fueling constant innovation, it’s an amazing time to be in the medical device space.

While solving healthcare issues and growing businesses around these solutions is rewarding, marketing the medical devices involved remains complex. 

Luckily, communication testing can help optimize your communication and get the right message to the right people. This ensures your medical device’s commercial success. 

Join us in learning how to conduct successful communications testing in the medical space and how it can benefit your organization:


The importance of communications testing in medical marketing

US healthcare and pharmaceutical digital ad spending grew by 10.1% in 2023, in a context where 5% of all Google searches are health-related. This shows how active the medical marketing audience is and how crucial it is to craft resonant messages. 

Consistent marketing is usually more beneficial to brands. However, customer preferences, markets, and competition in the healthcare sector are constantly changing. 

This means it's important to continuously analyze the market to help craft messages that capture and retain the attention of your target audience. 

Communication testing can help you give the peace of mind that your marketing messages are going to resonate, so let's examine key concepts and actionable steps for improving medical product communication. 


Setting objectives: communication goals and buyer personas

Communication testing works best when you start with clear goals. They are great reference points when gauging how well you’ve gotten through to your audience.

Customer segmentation is a good starting point when establishing communication testing goals. 

Behavior varies across different segments, and so should your campaigns and expectations. You can segment customers based on numerous criteria, such as:

  • Needs
  • Level of technology adoption
  • Organizations they belong to
  • Geographical location
  • Stage in the customer lifecycle
  • Customer size
  • Purchase behavior

To succeed at customer segmentation, focus on specific buyer personas, wants, and needs, like:

Patients – need effective solutions delivered in a considerate manner, with clarity on how these products work/affect them. 

Healthcare professionals – benefit from solutions powered by new innovations and finding more cost-efficient ways to serve patients. 

Show that you understand their most pressing issues by laying them out in a personalized manner and explaining how the medical product/service addresses them. 

Understanding your audience is vital for crafting effective messages and choosing the right testing methods. You’ll learn how to:

  • Target a specific group and convince them
  • Optimize your resource allocation
  • Branch out into new spaces and niches
  • Innovate in a way that improves product features and functionality
  • Retain existing customers


Qualitative vs quantitative research methods

Qualitative and quantitative research methods offer different ways of determining communication effectiveness. 

Qualitative methods focus on unique descriptions showing the possible effects of your communications. In contrast, quantitative methods rank or measure various findings, indicating the extent to which a specific result occurs. 

In communication testing, qualitative methods enable a deeper understanding of the suitability of a message to different people. Let’s dissect each communication testing method:

Qualitative research

Some common qualitative research methods in communication testing for medical marketing include:


These typically involve a one-on-one conversation held physically or virtually. They add a personal touch to your research, they are particularly useful for understanding processes both in clinician research and patient research 

Focus groups

This involves curating a small group that loosely represents a larger group. It can be a simpler way of determining the effectiveness of a specific message on an audience with a particular makeup.

In the healthcare sector, focus groups can be particularly helpful in:

  • Unearthing previously unmet needs, leading to product/service improvement.
  • Confirming or dispelling assumptions about how users will interact with the product (e.g., how easy it is to follow instructions when operating a blood pressure monitor).
  • Learning how to strategically combine branding elements like colors, slogans, and symbols to convince a more diverse audience.
  • Making last-minute tweaks that result in more successful launches. 
  • Getting ideas on the next new product to develop

Focus groups can also be more fun and efficient, demystify relationships and group dynamics, and support workflow flexibility.


Ethnography involves observing an individual’s behavior in certain real-world situations for more accurate insight into their influences. It provides original, uncompromised information on issues such as the consistency of usage, care for the product, and use customization.


Qualitative medical market research can produce many unique answers, so it helps to identify recurring themes. Spotting these patterns helps you arrive at more meaningful and actionable conclusions faster. You can handle this data more efficiently through:

  • Coding - All communication test questions are assigned code values, enabling you to process results based on frequency of occurrence. 
  • Editing - This is all about addressing errors, suspicious responses, and incomplete answers to realize more usable and reliable data.
  • Data entry – This involves recording data for each sample while following stipulated rules that will simplify processing. 

Ultimately, conducting qualitative research with clear goals is key to avoiding blunders in data collection and preparation for analysis. It will keep you on the right path from the start of your research to obtaining valuable insights.


Quantitative research

Quantitative research involves collecting and analyzing numerical data to discover patterns, predict events, test causation, and generalize results to the wider population. In medical marketing, quantitative research methods used in communication testing include:

Online surveys

These typically  involve directing participants to a web page or app where they are invited to answer a series of closed questions or multiple choices, which are suitable for quantitative analysis.

Online surveys are also ideal for some forms of conjoint analysis, measuring customer preferences and the value they place on different product features and benefits that form part of your communications. 

The main benefit of online surveys is that they enable you to access a wide audience, and gather a large sample of data, cost effectively. 

However, it's important to to note that online are completed without moderation or guidance, so any questions should be straightforward and easy to understand to avoid any misunderstandings that can skew the accuracy of your data.

CATIs (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews)

With this approach, a moderator guides the respondents through a structured survey over the phone. 

The main benefit of this approach is that the moderator is available to explain questions and reduce misunderstandings - which can be particularly valuable if you’re completing more complex conjoint analysis or dealing with specialist topics. 

But with the need for a moderator to be present, CATI can take more time to complete and can reach fewer participants cost effectively than an online survey. 


Regardless of whether you choose online surveys or CATI for your quantitative communications testing, it’s important to have the right approach to data analysis. 

A robust approach to data analytics helps you to extract meaningful insights from the participant data you collect, and turn them into actionable strategies for your medical device marketing.


A step-by-step guide to testing your medical product communications


Step 1: Designing a comprehensive communication test

  • Identify KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track. These help you set quantifiable targets that guide your effort. They include post views, page visits, email open rates, clicks on provided links, likes, reposts, sign-ups, etc. 
  • Devise hypothesis-driven testing strategies. Start by establishing a theory. For example, “If we lead with price information instead of product benefits, we will acquire more low-income customers.” Choose what to compare to when testing your theory. 
  • Consider the ethical ramifications of communication test design. Some questions may be too intrusive. Language that embellishes benefits or omits key facts may be misleading, especially to people who desperately need help. 


Step 2: Selecting the appropriate methodology for your medical product

Choosing the right market research methodology for your communication testing really depends on your specific objectives, and the insights you want to uncover. 

Each market research methodology comes with its own unique benefits, which is why the most effective communications testing plans often combine both qualitative and quantitative market research. 

For example, one-on-one interviews are excellent for in-depth qualitative research. They can help you gain insight into an individual's needs and preferences, and also enable you to understand the rationale behind their decisions. 

Online surveys are more appropriate for generating a broad range of quantitative responses to your communications - helping to validate their overall effectiveness and identify any general trends in feedback. 

Focus groups on the other hand, can be useful for understanding how your communications resonate with specific audience segments. While some participants may be reluctant to share their innermost thoughts and feelings in a shared setting, the group dynamics of a focus group can often lead to vibrant discussion and unlock insights that one-on-one interviews might miss. 

Depending on the nature of your communications testing project, you might consider different types of focus group at various stages. For instance, exploratory focus groups can help you identify key issues in the early stages of research. You might then follow this up with a descriptive focus group to help you gain more in-depth insights on the issues that have been identified.


Step 3: Executing the test and collecting data

To ensure consistent data gathering:

  • Correct any ambiguity in your communication test questions. 
  • Standardize the collection exercise to keep factors constant and avoid skewed results. 
  • Ensure that all your questions and research techniques adhere to applicable data and privacy laws. 
  • Organize your collection points to converge and back up data easily.

Avoid bias and ensure data reliability when administering communication tests by:

  • Maintaining a specific tone when interviewing different respondents.
  • Having a diverse team of surveyors and moderators in terms of experience and skillsets.
  • Avoiding leading questions.
  • Eliminating incentives/compensation models that push participants toward specific behavior.

When gathering data and organizing it for analysis, ensure that:

  • Administrators and surveyors have all the necessary physical or software tools for storing and transmitting the data. 
  • Your team has clear deadlines and approval and notification processes.
  • Team members provide any relevant comments and helpful observations. 
  • You provide a clear system for categorizing the data. 


Step 4: Analyzing and interpreting your research results

In qualitative data analysis, one go-to approach is thematic analysis. This involves coding, where you label various elements (like words or phrases) in responses. 

These labels represent specific themes, so you can observe their frequency and understand their relationships. 

In quantitative data analysis, you can use:

  • Regression analysis – This relies on statistical equations to project or estimate the impact of one variable on another. 
  • Linear programming – A method of finding the optimal solution in a situation where the objective and requirements are represented by linear relationships. 
  • Data mining – An automation-driven method of searching large data sets for patterns that can serve as actionable insights or ways of predicting outcomes. 

Combining qualitative insights with quantitative data is important to form comprehensive conclusions.


Step 5: Refining and implementing your medical product communication strategy

Once you have your test findings, list all the identified weaknesses, tackle the top issues, and gradually move to the less urgent ones. Try to resist implementing too many modifications at once.

Instead, test communication techniques progressively. To monitor the impact of changes in your communications over time:

  • Select the main channels to watch (web, email, push notifications, social media, etc.)
  • Get software tools that can record the data you’re tracking (email open rates, social post replies, and more) 
  • Set alerts associated with certain keywords and events.


How IDR Medical can elevate your communication testing processes

IDR Medical has consistently delivered expert communication testing in the healthcare space. We draw from years of experience managing various aspects of product development and marketing campaigns. More recently, we’ve worked with a leading medical equipment company’s dental division.

They’d secured the latest CAD/CAM and intra oral scanning technologies and needed a solid global launch plan. Their major concern was how to penetrate the highly competitive North American market. 

We quickly determined that they’d need to measure how their new product's messaging resonated compared to existing solutions, and understand the impact of different communication strategies. 

After conducting multiple interviews and online surveys with various healthcare stakeholders, our marketing and customer insights eventually helped the client achieve successful European and US product launches.

You can learn more about how IDR Medical has used communication testing to enable various organizations to effectively build and market their products and services in these healthcare industry stories


Embrace effective communication testing for market success

Communication testing is crucial in achieving market success for your healthcare products and services. To achieve this, it's important to take a methodical approach that includes:

  • Setting clear goals regarding your medical marketing strategies.
  • Selecting the most suitable research methods.
  • Implement changes to your communication strategy gradually, monitor the results, and continuously adapt according to the feedback.
  • Partnering with a leader in medical market research companies.

Contact us today to learn more about how IDR Medical’s communication testing can help you succeed in the market. 


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