Digital platforms are substantially improving the quality of medical information health care professionals (HCPs) receive, helping them enhance the patient experience. These platforms offer solutions to effectively reach and engage a global audience and inspire positive change, according to research from Aptus Health, a company offering products and services focused on advancing health engagement.
Market trends point to an increasing need for digital among HCPs. In fact, most HCPs say digital is key to their practice, according to a survey of members of Aptus Health’s U.S. web and mobile physician community. Nearly all of the 1,200 HCPs polled – 92 percent – say digital platforms such as mobile apps and websites improve the quality of medical information they receive. Almost as many – 84 percent – say digital technology allows them to improve the patient experience in healthcare.
The challenge for pharma marketers is to deliver digital experiences that build trust, drive value, foster brand affinity and support better decision making. We asked a couple of connected health experts how pharma marketers can build that trustworthy experience in an increasingly transactional and digitized world. Here’s what they said:
“Digital channels ensure that pharma marketers can connect with target HCPs who may be difficult to reach face-to-face, and engage them in credible, valuable content that supports better decision-making whenever and wherever they need it most, including on a mobile device,” said Brad Davidson, PhD, senior vice president of strategic planning at Aptus Health. “Over time, a consistent, valuable string of interactions replaces what was lost when we moved to a no-call environment.”
For example, after engaging with a digital, expert-led piece of clinical content within our digital HCP community, 78 percent of the HCPs surveyed say their rate of success breaking asthma attacks improved, Davidson said.
Digital content also helps support informed prescribing decisions, he said. After interacting with a piece of digital content developed by a pharma company and hosted within the online community, 63 percent of HCPs say they identified additional patients for therapy.
“Within the next 10 years, prescription drugs, especially for chronic conditions, will have a digital health component,” said Dr. Joseph Kvedar, vice president of Connected Health for Partners HealthCare. “Pharma companies that are starting to integrate digital health tools – such as mobile health, texting, and remote monitoring programs – to achieve things such as better adherence and positive behavior change to support better outcomes, will be the winners.”
Partners Connected Health is working with Daiichi Sankyo, a Japanese pharma company, to jointly develop a mobile companion drug therapy for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, said Kvedar, who is known as a pioneer in connected health. The Boston dermatologist is also author of The Internet of Healthy Things, about technology-enabled health and wellness, trends and business opportunities
The same strategies that work for global commerce can be applied to health care, Davidson said. Consumers are accustomed to receiving mobile alerts suggesting where to find the best cup of coffee nearby. But they can also receive targeted information on their most appropriate therapies, based on such factors as location, insurance access and behavioral indicators, he said.
“Applied knowledge of access can amplify this information to relevant HCPs and healthcare consumers in a way that fits into their targets’ digital, mobile-centric lives, offering personalized marketing and messaging to encourage healthy behavior.”
Kvedar said that to really make a difference, digital tools should be used to track and sustain engagement. “The ability to capture and feed data back to patients or consumers just isn’t enough to maintain behavior change. We have to create a consumer health experience that is compelling, sticky and, yes, as addictive as a smartphone.”
For doctors like himself, Kvedar said digital technology provides access to “richer, more accurate and in-the-moment data to help them provide better care to their patients. At the same time, patients will become better educated and more motivated to self-manage their own health and wellness, keeping people healthier at home. When digital health hits the mark, patients, providers and payers all benefit from better care, better outcomes and reduced expenses.”
Digital is especially valuable in helping time-strapped doctors accomplish more in less time, according to the poll, which included a cross-section of Aptus Health’s web and mobile physician communities. Oncologists reported some of the strongest preferences for digital tools, with most of them stating that without digital technologies, current advances in medicine won’t be fully realized. Oncologists are among the most time strapped of specialties and face some of the most overwhelming amounts of new medical information compared to other specialties.
Younger, less experienced HCPs and those who see more patients a day are also more likely to value digital, the research showed, suggesting the growing opportunity of pharma marketers to serve these doctors with the digital tools they want and need. Across all segments of HCPs, pharma marketers should strive to deliver the kind of digital experience that builds trust and keeps physicians happily engaged in the target message.