A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

Attracting e-Patients: Simple Solutions Map to Existing User Behavior

Posted by | 11:42am on Thursday, September 10, 2009

the solution is simple 

E-patients are online and using the internet to help manage their health care. Patients with rare disorders are especially engaged and using the online channel to find “just in time patients like me”, as well as to connect with their healthcare providers and get emotional support and information relating to their therapy.

But each rare disorder patient community population is unique. What’s the best way to engage these patients?  It depends on their patient journey, their level of participation in social media and the specific challenges of their disorder. When you look at data from the most recent PEW Internet project on specific segment e-patient behavior and the increasing range of communication channels, choosing among channels may seem like an overwhelming task. But the solution is simple – map to existing user behavior.

Patients are Online

There’s no doubt that patients are online. The Pew Internet Project estimates that 79% of American adults use the internet (up from 46% in 2000) and many of them not only gather and share health information online, but make health decisions based on what they find (see the Pew Internet/California HealthCare Foundation report: The Social Life of Health Information).

The PEW Internet Project Found that:

  • 48% of African American adults have gone online using a mobile device, compared with 28% of white adults.
  • 47% of Latino adults have gone online using a mobile device. (This survey was conducted only in English so the Latino sample skews up in terms of education and income)
  • 41% of e-patients have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
  • 15% of adults are “truly disconnected” – not only are they offline in an online world, but they are likely to say they don’t even know anyone who is online.

The Right Medium with the Right Message at the Right Time for the Right Audience

Given this data about general patient behavior online, you can see how specific the  solution for each community must be.  The right way to engage a community is first to listen and learn.  The best solutions are simple, but they are also based on a deep understanding of the needs and preferences of the people you are trying to reach.

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(Image courtesy of Katie@! via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

  • marietta baglieri

    Excellent as well as timely article .. you’ll find this interesting .. a long time friend, only now in her mid-30′s, has had multiple health issues since she was 18 .. if you track back through her history, the symptoms have, on occasion, manifested themselves similar to either fibromyalgia .. or lupus ..

    She’s been back and forth to countless doctors, various sorts, all of whom want to prescribe meds for pain without addressing what is going on ..

    After a year and a half of researching, yes, on the internet, she was finally able to convince her family physician to treat her with Plaquenil; the appropriate med for that condition/disease/affliction.

    Well, she’s be claiming all along that was what she had .. and the Plaquenil is working ..

    The internet provided the background and information to enable her to sell (not actually prove) her theory, and now she’s being treated ..

    Great article .. keep them coming .. thanks.

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