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The Digital Behaviors of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Posted by | 2:19pm on Wednesday, August 22, 2012
photo of a female Nurse Practitioner in white coat with stethoscope around her neck
photo of a female Nurse Practitioner in white coat with stethoscope around her neck
Chart showing answers to the question: When using the Internet how frequently do you use the following devices?
photo of a female Nurse Practitioner in white coat with stethoscope around her neck

nurses spend more time online for professional purposes than physicians 

Two recent studies provide insight into the digital behaviors of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). Most pharma marketers understand that with their prescribing power these two categories of healthcare professionals are a valuable target audience. With new physicians increasingly choosing medical specialties, NPs and PAs are filling the primary care gap.

The CMI/Compas study “Engaging Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Using HCP-Level Promotional Access and Preferences” describes the difference in time spent with patients. “While physicians spend, on average, as little as 7 minutes per patient, NPs/PAs report spending as much as 20 minutes with new patients and an average of 12-14 minutes on follow-up visits. Part of the reason that NPs/PAs spend more time with patients is that their practice philosophy is to treat holistically, taking into account the total patient physical and mental health profile.” NPs, PAs and registered nurses (RNs) typically play an important role in educating patients.

The entire CMI/Compas report is worth reviewing, but I found the data below especially interesting. This first chart reminds us of the importance of email for product information. The abbreviation IM stands for internal medicine physician and GP/FP for general practitioner and family physician. The study also noted that 60% of the PAs and 77% of the NPs said they read email from pharma companies.

How would you like to receive product information in the absence of a pharma rep?

Chart showing the answer to 'How would you like to receive product information in the absence of a pharma rep?'

 

When using the Internet how frequently do you use the following devices?

Additional data
The 2012 version of Manhattan Research’s Taking the Pulse® Nurses study looked at PAs, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) which includes NPs, and RNs. They found that these nurses spend more time online for professional purposes than physicians. They also use smartphones more often than physicians during patient consultations and visit biopharma websites more frequently than physicians. Below are the specifics.

Average time online per week for professional purposes in 2012:
RNs: 16 hours
APRNs: 14 hours
PAs: 14 hours
Physicians: 11 hours

Use smartphone during patient consultation:
PAs: 74%
RNs: 67%
APRNs: 60%
Physicians: 40%

Use any pharma or biotech websites (weekly):
RNs: 37%
PAs: 30%
APRNs: 26%
Physicians: 23%

These Manhattan Research numbers represent an increase compared to last year’s report. This data confirms the opportunity for biopharma marketers to provide mobile-friendly product information as well as nurse-focused pages on brand sites. Both of the CMI/Compas and Manhattan Research studies show that the digital channel has become an integral part of the practice of not just physicians but most healthcare providers.

(Image courtesy of Walt Stoneburner on Flickr).

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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