Customer Insight Techniques in Healthcare

Customer Insight Techniques in Healthcare

Finding the right product-market fit for your product or process improvement is the single most important step in new product development and failure to do so i.e. not producing something that customers want to buy or use, is the leading cause of startup failure. The second most common one is failing to use a VAST business model.


By now you have probably heard about "getting out of the office" to talk to potential customers to validate core business model canvas hypotheses. Unfortunately, when you interview customer personnas, they don't always tell you the truth, much like job interviews. So, not surprisingly, there is little correlation between interview performance and job performance.

So, what are some other ways to derive insights?

  1. The data detective – des research with secondary data eg customer data; analytics; industry reports.
  2. Google Trends.
  3. Google Keyword Planner.
  4. Google Analytics.
  5. Government Census Data, World Bank, IMF etc.
  6. Third party research reports.
  7. Social Media Analytics.
  8. CRM system.
  9. The journalist – Conversations/Interviews with customers 1:1 or even in focus groups;
  10. The anthropologist – Observational studies; diary studies.
  11. (B2C) Stay/live with the family, participate in dailt routines, learn about what drives people.
  12. (B2B) Work alongside, observe, what keeps these people awake at night?
  13. (B2C) Observe shopping behaviour.
  14. (B2C) Shadow customer for one day.
  15. (any) Find new ways of immersing yourself.
  16. The impersonator – Step in the shoes of your customer; cognitive walkthrough.
  17. The cocreator – Workshops.
  18. The scientist – Experiments, A/B testing, user testing etc.

Most biodesign programs require students to spend time embedded into end user environments. In a sense, they make innovation rounds. The concept has taken hold in digital health.

Suppose I asked you to design a new shopping cart?

Would you ask people what they want or go to Whole Foods and watch how people shop? Remember, customers want something to make a hole, not buy a drill.

Here are some problems, however, with using doctors as early evangelists. Plus, there are many stakeholders and they all want different jobs done.

Getting out of the office is a good idea. Just use all of your senses, not just your ears, when you do it.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Twitter@ArlenMD.

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  • Kieran Madden

    Very useful, thanks for sharing.

  • Brittany Hook

    Good article

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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