JOURNEY INTO THE HAZY AND BLURRED WORLD OF EYE PATIENTS

Lasik and Cataract are emerging as important domains for an eye hospital. Advancement in laser vision technology has reduced risks and increased open-ness amongst consumers in opting for it. With life expectancy on an uptrend, age related eye diseases like Cataract are also going up. Hence, one of our healthcare clients serving patients in this specific segment wanted to better understand the consumer and map out actionable ways to improve the patient experience at the hospital.

Research Objective

To understand the emotional mind map of the patient (feelings, emotions, concerns etc) at various stages of Cataract and Lasik surgery.

Research Methodology

In depth interviews with client-provided database of Cataract and Lasik patients segmented by the recency of surgery.

Key Findings
Lasik Study

Lasik is a solution explored at and opted by the younger, adventurous and experimentative group, primarily for cosmetic reasons. ‘Look good’ is the undisputed key motivator, despite sundry other reasons cited.

At the outset, many are ‘aware’ of Lasik but not of what all it entails. Hence at the first level, once strong pull from friends is established in the mind, detailed digging from various sources starts. But as the digging gets deeper, at one level some questions are resolved but at another level, more questions arise and THE VERY NECESSITY/NEED for treatment is debated internally. Also, lack of clear explanation from centers/hospitals approached (on procedure and pricing) further adds to their dilemma.

Hence role of counselor at hospital is HUGE. He clarifies doubts, helps in boosting confidence and comfort with the decision and alleviates any residual fears.

Detailed search on the doctor helps in the final choice and he is clearly the hero, the most potent puller in the final decision! Family plays an important role in providing emotional support by standing by them in the decision and also many a times in financially supporting it (Lasik is definitely not for the tight-fisted or those belonging to a modest background).

Cataract Study

Diagnosis of cataract is either at regular eye exam or at planned consultation. However, nothing prepares them enough. Though high awareness of the disease and its ‘safe and assured treatment’ makes the news palatable, it still takes time to digest and accept that a surgery is imminent. From the time the disease is detected, the C word totally dominates their life.

Most of cataract patients are the elderly. Overall their dependence on family (spouse and kids) in general is high. Specific to this situation, their dependence transcends physical dependence to include emotional support as well. Many factors play a role in decision making. Price of treatment (though not so openly stated) is VERY IMPORTANT. Location of hospital also figures as an important consideration since the entire process involves multiple visits to the hospital.

After rigorous search, WOM and advice from friends and family, final decision on hospital is made. It is a collective decision (by immediate family). The hero here too, is clearly the doctor, and his success history plays a big role in winning confidence. Half the battle is won if mind perceives itself in ‘best possible hands’. On the day of the surgery, anxiety peaks. Not only the patient but the family is tensed. Though they have been told innumerable times it is a fairly ‘safe’ surgery, a surgery is still a surgery. Anything can go wrong!

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Sum Up

While some attempt on this front is already being done, the specific scope areas were highlighted to improve empathy, warmth and care that can be provided by the doctor and the attendant – infact the entire set up.

Concrete issues and remedial steps delivered by the research were fruitful for the client in devising action plan for improvements in the areas of lagging expectation-delivery.

Sample work we have done

Cancer Prevention

Assess how knowledge on cervix or cervical cancer changes the way parents care for their daughters
How is the relationship of mother-daughter different from that of a father-daughter? How has the role of a daughter changed in the typical Indian household over time? Key health influencers that guide decision making process. What is the awareness level of cervix or cervical cancer and barriers/motivators w.r.t the vaccinne. What issues come forth in terms of credibility issues, usability, communication platform and affordability? Can a middle class Indian women who is even unsure of the consequences of the disease be convinced to buy a vaccine for it?

Deep diving in the ‘Taboo’

Understand awareness of ‘oral’ contraceptive measures and the Indian women perspective
The client wants to introduce a new birth control pill in the Indian market and wants to know how does the middle class Indian women perceive birth control measures and her perception of the various measures currently available in the market. How do pills fare against other measures? How comfortable is an Indian women talking about the various options available to her pharmacist, husband, friends? What is the role of a gynecologist in the entire process? Does low awareness of the product category lead to fear of experimentation?

Battle of the bones

Understand the response to a drug vis a vis competitive drug in the treatment of osteoporosis
What factors are consulted on choosing a drug for Osteoporosis? Key motivators that push prescribers, intermittent prescribers towards certain drugs? Barriers that dwell for the non prescribers? What is the main source from where confidence in a particular drug, course of treatment emerges? What are the expectations from the drug that fits the need state? How can introduction of a new drug balance those shortcomings?

Seeing through open lenses

Market positioning strategy formulated for a new eye hospital
Integrated analysis to understand how a new eye hospital should position itself, profiling the target segment and to assess the most convincing communication track functional to build a reliable and stable image of the brand. The need gaps in mind of opticians, regarding lacuna in the eye care space were studied in detail. How important is it to create a brand name in the health sector and how can an eye care specialist contribute to that? Importance of technology and new equipments for the launch and future solidity of the brand.

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