Disintermediating has greater repercussions in healthcare, more so than in any other industry: Centricity, engagement and empowerment of individuals are growing.
According to the most recent GfK data, approx. 15 million Italians (45% of web users) have used their desktop or mobile devices to seek health information online.
Discussing results with experts is nevertheless key. After searching online, two Italians out of three see their HCPs to further evaluate the findings, one out of three requests a second opinion and one out of three consults their pharmacists.
Physicians and patients staying connected with digital tools
Digital tools help physicians and patients stay connected, promote the engagement of patients in the entire health journey, at the same time increasing awareness, ability to manage their condition and adherence to treatment. Phone calls are, once again, the easiest way for patients to contact their physicians and stay in touch with them, while emails, texting and WhatsApp messages are now go-to communication tools: Almost 50% of GPs regularly interact with their patients via email (46%) or via WhatsApp (44%) and texts (40%).
There is also evidence of growing interest among physicians (approx. 30-40% according to their specialty) in video consultations to help remote monitoring of medical parameters and adherence to treatment.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that new communication tools be clearly patient-centric and consider patients’ resources and their everyday use of technology.
Digital touchpoints for physicians
On the other hand, HCPs are quite conversant with the digital tools they use for continuous professional development: 93% of physicians use the web for professional purposes every day, for a total of eight hours a week of browsing.
What do physicians seek online? Mostly product information and clinical trials, insights into diseases, guidelines for diagnosis and treatments. General practitioners are interested in Centers of Excellence they can refer their patients to for a consultation, specialists browse through ongoing clinical trials of the most innovative products.
Pharma companies, on their part, are now implementing new, multilayered strategies to disseminate information through digital and remote channels: 52% of GPs and 61% of specialists have experienced digital or remote detailing.
It is also worth pointing out how communication from pharma companies through digital channels is impacting the traditional scientific information-seeking process, triggering a more proactive, in-depth approach among physicians.
Social networks and peer-to-peer consultations are also digital touchpoints. More than 50% of GPs and 61% of specialists use at least one social network for professional purposes. Apps are steadily on the rise and are now used by 73% of GPs and 81% of specialists to support their clinical practice and CPD.
In this day and age, digital pervades healthcare as a source of information and communication for both physicians and patients.
Pharma companies are well aware of this. They play a key role in scientific dissemination and are developing multichannel strategies that add innovative tools to the traditional sales reps visits; namely, information portals, newsletters, tele- and web detailing and social media communications.
In this respect, communication channels may be real game changers in physicians’ approach to knowledge-seeking. No more are they passive recipients but active participants seeking information. The same is true of patients, who have become more aware, informed and engaged in their health journey. Patients and HCPs are evolving with the digital age. So the industry must embrace advanced strategies that respond to this new healthcare landscape.
Isabella Cecchini is the Head of Healthcare at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.