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Physician Insights from Google’s ThinkHealth

Posted by | 12:41pm on Friday, September 21, 2012
I love Google photo on Siren Interactive blog, SirenSong

After searching, 67% of physicians then shared information with patients and 55% made or changed a treatment decision 

The other day I attended the annual Google ThinkHealth event to review some of the latest digital trends. Among the interesting speakers was Sam Kass, White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor on Healthy Food Initiatives, who is working with the First Lady on her program, Let’s Move.

Sree Chaguturu, MD, from Partners HealthCare (which includes Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital), talked about their research on physicians and technology. They found that with doctors it wasn’t so much age driving technology adoption, but what they termed “geek factor.” Their physicians believe that technology can drive health innovation and that doctors will adopt tech tools if other doctors in their practice care about it. Dr. Chaguturu said, “Physicians are even willing to lose income in order to adopt technology–up to a certain amount.”

Physician insights
Presenters also shared data from the Manhattan Research-Google Physician Channel Adoption Study 2012. Eighty percent of physicians surveyed search disease name keywords and 50% search brand names, with 1 in 3 clicking the first sponsored listing. The research showed that 41% of doctors search during a patient consult and 77% search in between patient visits. After searching, 67% of physicians then shared information with patients and 55% made or changed a treatment decision. For more details, see this May blog post. The growing role of mobile was highlighted by this next statistic: compared to 2011, this year has seen a 16% increase in health searches and an 80% increase in mobile health searches.

What physicians want
Dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, took part in a panel discussion and shared some of the ways she likes pharmaceutical companies to support her patients. She said it’s helpful when patient stories set treatment expectations and fully explain any barriers. She likes when pharmaceutical companies develop videos and education tools to help patients use a treatment properly and support adherence. Dr. Bowe will even use her Flip video camera to interview her own patients after a procedure in order to share their experience with others. She then posts these videos to the YouTube channel of her practice. She noted that especially for chronic conditions, it’s important for patients to get support and that she sends patients to online communities.

New take on old messages
Key themes for the day were the move towards personalization and empowering audiences. An interesting example was shown as part of the Project Re: BriefTM initiative in which Google updated four iconic ads using today’s technology. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out this video. Google took the classic “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” ad for Alka-SeltzerTM and created a video based on it. They filmed a variety of choices, which allows the weather, geographic location and interest to be personalized in real time to audience. It’s an interesting glimpse of customization that could have wider use in the future. What do you think?

(Image courtesy of Eileen O’Brien).

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

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