Getting Answers


By Kristin Phillips (@klaphillips)

Are you a victim of cyberchondria? That is, do you spend much of your time on Google looking up various symptoms, causes, diseases, treatments, and other medical and health issues? While it might seem normal to you, youre in the minority. A study of 1,008 American adults from Kyp Holdings and Opinion Research Corporation found that most people turn to their physician for health information before hitting the the Internet.

As someone who has invested countless hours investigating everything from IUGR to chest pain to how to recognize a suspicious mole, the studys findings are somewhat surprising. It would have been interesting to note if people are heading online following a meeting with their physician to either gain more knowledge or confirm or refute their doctors advice.

Of the 55 percent that look to their physician for health information before going online, nearly a quarter turn to their network of relatives, friends or co-workers when they suspect they have a health problem. Nearly twice as many women than men turn to people they know for advice about their health. For women who cant find a girlfriend, ChickRx is like getting health advice from your best friend. However, the study results indicate that many people are frustrated with seeking information online.

One of the big roadblocks preventing people from hitting the Internet for health-related information is that they dont know where to look. According to the study, 42 percent claimed there is too much choice. Deciding what is credible, particularly when there is so much conflicting information, makes it hard to determine whats accurate.

More than half (64.8 percent) go to a portal such as WebMD, but only a paltry two percent are visiting pharmaceutical company websites. That may be because physicians arent in the habit of recommending websites to their patients. The study shows that only 22.5 percent of doctors or physicians are recommending websites to their patients to learn health information. Pharma companies invest a lot of time, money and resources in developing an engaging content-rich website, but if they build it and no one comes, whats the point?

While reps need to leverage the limited call time they have, one way to move the needle might be to engage with physicians and educate them about the value of a particular website, such as Pfizers comprehensive overview of various patient resources, including detailed accounts of more than 100 medical conditions. Or, as many offices are equipped with televisions or free-standing kiosks in the waiting area, providing access to a companys website so patients can gather additional information while on premise, can add value. Not only will this drive people to the pharma companys website, but it may foster more productive conversations with their doctor and enhance the patient experience.

Clearly, if pharma companies want people to visit the company website and maintain a thought leader status, they need to rethink their approach to marketing their website to the professional medical community.

Whats your strategy?



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