From local to global healthcare marketing research: a broad-spectrum perspective

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Article publication date: 6 September 2011



Mukherjee, A. (2011), "From local to global healthcare marketing research: a broad-spectrum perspective", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

From local to global healthcare marketing research: a broad-spectrum perspective

Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3

Healthcare management and marketing is of critical research importance in all contexts along a geographic continuum – from the level of local community to industry, country, and the global context. This journal issue examines important healthcare marketing issues along the same continuum – customer trust in community pharmacies; healthcare industry certification for pharmaceutical sales representatives (PSRs); country-level assistance to patients for managing medications in Australia; and the international patients’ market.

The first paper by Jason Perepelkin and David Di Zhang is “Brand personality and customer trust in community pharmacies”. In this paper, the authors focus on the increasingly competitive sector of “community pharmacy industry”, where independent pharmacies must compete with national and multinational chains for market share. Each pharmacy seeks to differentiate and earn customer trust. In this paper, the authors seek to better understand the effectiveness of differentiating via developing a unique corporate brand personality in the pursuit of customer trust. The authors conducted a survey in a small city in Western Canada. For this survey, they randomly selected 1,000 individuals from the digital local telephone directory. Patients who have recently filled a prescription were asked to assess their perceptions about the brand personality of the pharmacy they last visited, and evaluate how much they trust the pharmacy. Data have been analyzed using SPSS and structural equation modeling (SEM). The results indicate that significant brand personality differences exist among various types of pharmacies. Customers rated independent pharmacies slightly more trustworthy than multinational mass merchandise and national chain pharmacies. SEM analysis reveals that sincerity and competence have the most significant impact on building customer trust. The findings suggest that independent pharmacies may be able to differentiate themselves by developing a brand personality that is competent and sincere, thereby earning the trust from their customers. The findings also suggest that a sophisticated appearance might be an expensive option that does not provide satisfactory return on investment.

The second paper in this issue, titled “Improving the uptake of the Australian Home Medicines Review (AHMR) through patient segmentation”, is a research note authored by Lesley White, Christiane Klinner, and Nicola Cobelli. This study investigates the problems patients and caregivers have with appropriately using medicines, their desire for assistance with managing medications and their self-perceived need for the Australian Home Medicines Review (HMR). The authors conducted a qualitative research study with eight semi-structured focus groups including a total of 50 HMR-eligible patients and caregivers. Participants who were purposively sampled represented older males, older females, younger chronically ill patients, patients from Chinese and Arabic backgrounds and the general HMR target group. According to the types of medicine problems encountered by participants, their level of medicine understanding and their desire for assistance with using medicines, four distinct patient segments are identified and explicated: the heedless patient, the aware patient, the scrupulous patient and the self-sufficient patient. The uptake of the HMR service can be effectively increased by direct-to-consumer HMR promotion that is tailored to the behaviors, needs and desires of eligible patients and caregivers. The proposed segmentation model of HMR-eligible consumers addresses these differences and can be used to inform health policy makers regarding a more effective promotion of the HMR service. This is an important outcome of the study that makes a remarkable contribution. Another significance of the paper is that it constitutes the first study to investigate how the HMR-uptake could be increased from the perspective of eligible patients and their caregivers.

The third paper by Mona Al-Amin, Suzanne C. Makarem, and Rohit Pradhan, titled “Hospital ability to attract international patients: a conceptual framework”, builds on previous work in the international business and health services fields to develop a model that predicts a hospital’s ability to attract international patients. The paper is a synthesis of the literature on export ventures and patient choice to predict a hospital’s “export” performance. The volume of international patients has been growing in the past 15 years, with developing countries gaining a larger market share. The international patients market is lucrative, given that hospitals may be able to attract an affluent clientele, and many of these patients that seek care from foreign countries require complicated procedures and treatments. Foreign patients not only benefit hospitals and medical professionals but also benefit the local community through money spent in hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc. Strategic management, international business, and health services research fields can help us understand how hospitals can be more competitive in attracting international patients. In this conceptual paper, the authors propose that the following dimensions affect a hospital’s export performance:

  • hospital resources (hospital attributes, international competence, management commitment, and strategy);

  • institutional environment; and

  • domestic hospital industry factors.

This is an important contribution to the literature because most of the studies done on international patients have been descriptive in nature. This is the first paper that builds a conceptual model to help us understand what determines a hospital’s performance in the international patient market.

The fourth paper in this issue is a conceptual paper by Fadi M. Alkhateeb, Patricia Baidoo, Marija Mikulskis Cavana, Danielle Gill, Amanda Howell, Babak Mehraeen, and Carrie Weidner, titled “Is certification for pharmaceutical sales representatives necessary?” PSRs have been shown to influence the prescribing patterns of physicians. Some of the blame has been shifted from physicians to PSRs due to perceived inadequacies in PSRs education and certification. In this conceptual paper, the authors review the literature regarding the current certification requirements for PSRs, motivation for nationally standardized certification and the controversy surrounding pharmaceutical detailing impact on physicians prescribing behavior. The authors have identified the necessary papers related to certification for PSRs via searches of PubMed and IPA from inception to March 2011. Search terms included PSRs, PSR certification, PSR registration, PSR education, and PSR requirements. They also included the papers describing the roles and responsibilities of PSRs, physician and public perception of PSRs, certification processes, and the future of PSR roles. An internet search has performed to identify papers in the lay press related to this topic. The results of the study showed that the certification for PSRs may become necessary, or even required, to help ensure that the prescribing patterns of physicians are not negatively affected due to false information coming from the PSRs. Therefore, ensuring that PSRs are well certified can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Although pharmaceutical companies do not require certification to gain employment as a sales representative, the certification provides a good knowledge base and insight into the industry. This study is an important study in terms of giving a new direction for the appropriate training and certification of PSRs in which may be on the rise for this career path.

We conclude with a review by Fadi Alkhateeb and Ephantus Gaitho of the book Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing: Get the Inside Scoop on Pharma Sales and Marketing Careers authored by Carole S. Moussalli.

Thank you for considering the International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing as the right place for your work.

Avinandan Mukherjee

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