Market Research and Engagement Through an Online Community Panel

June 1, 2013

by Michele von Dambrowski

Michele von Dambrowski“We had relatively low patient engagement … outside of the clinic setting,” says Mark Rothwell, vice president of marketing and communications for Dean Clinic, giving one reason why the 107-year-old Madison, WI, organization began an online patient community. Patient engagement, in­cluding a two-way dialogue, is critical to Dean Clinic’s brand value, explains Rothwell. The organization’s experiences implementing an online panel were pre­sented at the 18th National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit sponsored by the Forum for Healthcare Strategists in Scottsdale, AZ, last month.

The online patient panel, moreover, gave Dean Clinic a way to gain insights quickly and cost-effectively and allowed it to take advantage of flexible sampling, ac­cording to Rothwell. Importantly, the method built relationships with participants and let them know that the organization was listening. Panelists for the online community, Dean Listens, were recruited in a number of ways, including through events, websites, direct mail, patient services contacts, clinic visits, and social media.

After two years, Dean Listens counts nearly 2,000 members, of whom about 75 percent are current pa­tients and 85 percent are women. Astoundingly, the more than 20 surveys that Dean Clinic conducted through its panel during that time have averaged a 56 percent response rate.


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