Over half of online customers (59 per cent) now have an expectation that their health care system will meet the same level of customer service received from delivery companies such as Amazon.
According to a recent report by Google and Decision Resources Group, which cited DRG Patient Insight research, claimed that consumers increasingly expect brands to address their needs to such an extent that well-crafted and thoughtfully delivered messages as well as the use of digital data, media, and distribution to reach the right person at the right time is a key growth area in the Pharma sector.
Further, over a quarter (28 per cent) of consumers surveyed said that information read on a smartphone influenced their purchasing decision of over the counter medication.
The report, published by Google, McKinsey & Company and Wharton School of Pennsylvania, estimated that health care providers and physicians work with three devices each day including a smartphone, tablet and computer and are within reach of their mobile device more than 85 per cent of their day, using them to access the internet more than half of the time. Along with the growing sophistication of the patient/consumer, physicians and healthcare providers themselves are also more often employed by larger institutions and constantly seek information on reimbursement policies, guidelines and course of care to name just a few.
What this indicates for marketers is that there is a massive growth in health-oriented digital activity that represents a dramatic shift in how society manages its health. And, marketers should note that it is not just the pharmaceutical companies that are poised to play an increasingly bigger role in this trend.
Within the report, a group of more than 1,000 practicing physicians were surveyed with 73 per cent saying that they rely on online resources for clinical information.
Additionally, over half of those physicians surveyed said that their patients are more actively involved in their treatment decisions while physicians are seeking information from the large pharmaceutical companies for support in key areas that include affordable treatment options, supplies or provisions of relevant information, and seek more current and comprehensive online information for both their patients and themselves.
Further, digital information was cited by the physicians surveyed as highly relevant when it comes to getting more information about a brand-name prescription, choosing and switching a patient's treatment, information about coverage, co-pay or financial support for patients unable to afford their prescriptions. Finally, 46 per cent of physicians reported sharing videos they found online about treatment topics with other healthcare providers.
The study also noted some interesting trends including the fact that 43 per cent of patients search for medical information before seeing a doctor, 72 per cent of patients with preexisting conditions (such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes) searched when first experiencing symptoms to understand what condition they may have, and 60 per cent of patients with preexisting conditions like to validate a doctor's opinion with their own online research. Additionally, following a diagnosis 84 per cent of patients turned to search to learn about their treatment options.
The challenge for marketers is evolving quickly with health topics now considered to be the number one search category on mobile devices which outpaces both travel and finance for mobile users. According to the report, patients also turn to social networks and 30 per cent of social health users say the information they read on social media has influenced their health decisions, including those related to treatment choices. Further, from wearable fitness trackers to tracking food choices, health technology is also woven into everyday lives.
For marketers in the bio-pharmaceutical industries, the vast changes among consumers and within the medical community means there are opportunities for pharma companies to both engage more meaningfully online, impact ROI by delivering more memorable and behavior-changing experiences to patients and physicians, leverage digital technology more effectively and test the uptake and impact of digital campaigns more efficiently.
What many pharma companies must do is grasp how the patient and HCP environments are changing, invest in the digital age at a faster rate and fortify and develop new underlying capabilities.