Manhattan Research reported that physicians spend an average of 11 hours per week online for professional purposes. Regulatory and competitive pressures, as well as greater patient online research will continue to drive increased internet usage among practitioners. The question is, how are physicians using web-based services to improve patient care and how can pharma use these tools for marketing?
Mobile technology is also changing how physicians access information at the point of care. Eight out of ten physicians surveyed for a Wolters Kluwer Health study said they were using a smartphone in their day-to-day practice and another 61% were using tablets. Smartphones are most frequently used for accessing drug information, while tablets are used most to conduct medical research.
With the traditional sales rep model no longer a solution to HCP outreach, pharma needs to leverage this online channel preference as part of their overall marketing mix. In order to do so effectively, marketers need to understand where physicians are spending their time online.
Physician Online Behaviors
The most time spent online by U.S. physicians is for HCP content. Websites that offer information tailored to physicians save HCPs valuable time that can be spent on patient care. Rather than sorting through pages of search results to find a trusted source, physicians rely on HCP-content websites for peer-reviewed and reliable clinical data. The next commonly used online category in terms of time spent is pharma support websites.
Use of social media for healthcare information is also increasing among providers. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research discovered that 85% of oncologists and primary care physicians use social media at least once a week or once a day to read or explore health information. Of those surveyed, 60% believed that using social media improved patient care.
Physicians are encouraged to proceed with extreme caution on social media, having a clear preference for restricted communities rather than open platforms. Networks that are limited to only licensed practitioners, allow physicians to share and discuss professional issues with confidence. These platforms offer a safe place to build networks of peers, seek opinions, discuss medical trends, and find referrals.
Engaging with Physicians at the Point of Care
Physicians will naturally seek websites that offer an all-in-one solution to the online sources the most frequently visit. This will include platforms that combine clinical HCP content and secure social networking. Targeting physicians within these social platforms provides pharma with an opportunity to reach physicians at the point of care when they are making critical clinical decisions. Adding these new digital channels to the marketing mix along with tried and true traditional approaches will build brand awareness at multiple touch points throughout the lifecycle of a product.
About the author: Robert Bedford is the Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing of MediScripts. His career spans a wide breadth of prominent positions at leading direct to pharmaceutical marketing services companies. Robert is supporting MediScripts’ growing suite of clinical management solutions designed to help marketers reach physicians at the point of care.
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