The Role of the Patient-Physician Relationship in Marketing Healthcare
Many of our health system clients have begun to investigate more deeply the patient-physician relationship—a relationship that is complicated, multi-faceted and, for many, vitally important. For example, we’ve uncovered information people rely on when selecting a new provider, the most appealing characteristics of a physician’s practice and aspects of the patient-physician encounter that matter most. These studies are important given an employed primary care provider’s critical role in referring patients to a health system’s specialty care, leveraging the power of a system’s EMR capabilities and improving employed providers’ HCAHPS scores.
Editor’s Note: If your company needs to understand where to focus resources in an increasingly complex, multi-channel world, please join our Life Sciences division for Beyond Sales Effectiveness: A Holistic Measure of Stakeholder Experience on March 29.
The world is always changing, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.
The Way Things Were
Customer experience research in pharma used to be heavily centered on sales representative performance because they were the “face” of the pharma company and the primary touch point with physicians. They had significant opportunity to form close, personal relationships. Research studies focused on whether sales reps were knowledgeable and professional, respected the physician’s time and helped enable physicians to better take care of patients. But a lot has changed in the past few years…
Understanding How Consumers Make Healthcare Decisions
It’s day two of my eight-year-old niece’s fever and it won’t break. Before her parents went on vacation, I promised to take care of her. Sure, she wasn’t feeling well, but it was just a fever and we were doing all the right things: Tylenol, rest and fluids. But as day two progressed, she grew more despondent and refused to drink anything. Now what?
We’ve all had to make choices about where to seek care for an unplanned health event, but today we have more choices about where to go.
Whether it’s extended hours, virtual visits or money-back guarantees, choices are transforming care delivery. Understanding how these choices shape decisions will make or break marketing strategies seeking to increase usage. That is why Market Strategies focused its latest self-funded research study on how people choose where to go when someone is sick. What we learned will help answer a question salient in the minds of every health system professional: “How do we maximize the likelihood that consumers will choose us, when deciding where to go for care?”
Ensuring that patients understand, accept and follow recommended treatment plans is the first step towards the best possible outcome—medically for the patient and financially for the healthcare delivery system. Similarly, physicians are in the best position to individualize this treatment plan to one that is optimal for the patient.
Yet all too often patients resist their physician’s recommendation immediately or at the pharmacy, or they initially accept only to abandon treatment later. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?
How we “talk” and interact has changed. Heads down. Headphones on. Thumbs moving. It’s ironic that the more we focus on our small, handheld smartphone, the more we have access to the larger world around us. When sitting on a park bench, we can call loved ones, shop at Amazon, watch Netflix, listen to Spotify and schedule appointments. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to think that most people (especially Millennials) could pretty much operate their whole world on a smartphone.
As part of our continued focus on consumerism in healthcare, Market Strategies monitors and tracks how consumers use technology. In this article, we explore telehealth with an emphasis on virtual healthcare—an attractive option to busy consumers who are now accustomed to getting what they need, the moment they need it. For healthcare consumers, this means convenient, high-quality, immediate access to care for themselves and family members that costs less than traditional office visits.
What we’re learning from our own research is helping healthcare providers, health systems and insurers offer the right tools at the right time to connect consumers with the care they expect.
In the 1951 Disney adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, our protagonist finds herself in a bit of a predicament. Eager to catch the White Rabbit as he scurries off, Alice is too large to squeeze through the door to continue her pursuit. In frustration, she calls out to the doorknob, “I simply must get through!” The doorknob replies, “Sorry, you’re much too big. Simply impassible.” Confused, Alice responds, “You mean impossible?” Doorknob: “No, impassible. Nothing’s impossible.”
Impassible versus impossible. It’s easy to see how Alice was confounded by these two very similar looking and sounding words. However, the dialogue between the doorknob and Alice is more than clever wordplay; it’s sage advice. If a path meets an obstacle, change the perspective and try again. Seemingly impassible problems are opportunities for adaptation, creative thinking and novel solutions.
As a first-time mom to an 11-week-old girl, the growing concern about the Zika virus has captured my attention. Daily, I count my blessings that both she and I are healthy, having come through pregnancy and labor safely. As a researcher focusing primarily on pharmaceuticals and healthcare, I spend a significant amount of time learning about devastating diseases, but this one has really hit home.
It was almost exactly a year ago, while traveling for in-situ research with healthcare providers, that I called my husband from a hotel room early in the morning to tell him that we were finally pregnant. That same week, I flew to four different states as my research continued, and the next week three more. Within a month, I was onto another project and literally circling the globe to conduct interviews with oncologists in Asia and Europe.
Travel has always been–and will continue to be–an integral part of my life and work. I was fortunate that morning sickness was the only ailment that I had to worry about while traveling so broadly. What would I have done if the Zika virus had been spreading then? How would I react if research was going to take me to South America? I can only imagine I would have immediately begun doing the thing I’m probably best at – asking questions.
“Generic medications are not as good as branded medications.”
“If it costs more, it must be better.”
“If I switch from a branded drug to its generic version, I risk treatment failure.”
With 7 in 10 US adults taking at least one prescription medication, and where 8 out of 10 prescriptions written are for generic drugs, it has been common to hear these comments from patients and even healthcare professionals. Until now. According to new independent research from Market Strategies International, these prevalent myths appear to be dying out, and Americans now feel right at home in a world dominated by generics.
Improved Perception of Generic Drugs
According to our study, the majority of US adults now believe that generic medications are just as good as branded medications. Consider these statistics:
As researchers, we hear–and are frequently asked about–‘new’ approaches, methodologies, deliverables…and so on. I believe true innovation in research (and perhaps in most industries) comes at a glacial pace, simply because many of the tried, true and tested methods are amazing, wonderful and solid members of our research family. This is especially true in quantitative research. However, lately I have been riding a wave of new research approaches that leverage today’s technology.These are fun and exciting projects to be a part of and are offering our clients deep learning, intimate insights and the opportunity for real-time, global collaboration as a team.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about these options. Today’s topic? Asynchronous video.
In our technology-driven world, we often hear warnings about excessive screen time and suggestions to regularly “unplug” to mitigate the negative health effects of being continually connected. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens should engage in no more than two hours of electronic entertainment media per day to avoid a myriad of developmental challenges such as concentration problems and obesity. Recently, a study out of UCLA School of Medicine asserts that screen time at bedtime can have detrimental effects on sleep.
But could technology actually be—dare we say—good for us?
Market Strategies International was curious so we conducted our own study to explore some of the intersections of health and technology to determine what benefits, if any, are coming out of the convergence. Other than healthy annual revenues that are estimated to reach $2 billion with 13 million users by 2020, are there any healthy paybacks for consumers? Within our sample, even though a vast majority report having good to excellent health, 16% have been diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 20% have struggled with obesity.
- Could innovations in health technology empower us to be more aware of and take control of our health?
- What types of companies are best positioned to provide solutions?
- Who do consumers trust to provide these devices or services?
Our web-based survey included 1,000 adults living across the US who use at least one of several connected fitness health devices, apps or telehealth services. We found that not only can technology provide benefits such as raised awareness of overall health, but it can also help increase healthful attitudes and behaviors thanks to the use of personal fitness trackers, medication reminder apps and patient portals. Furthermore, results show that people trust technology and consumer goods companies over pharmaceutical or healthcare companies to provide HealthTech devices/services and to be responsible for personal information and/or collected data.