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

Two Key Health Seeker Groups Most Active Online

Posted by | 12:40pm on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Together, the newly diagnosed and the chronically ill account for only 40% of the health seekers but 90% of the health seeking traffic. 

When you think about some of the data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project as it relates to rare disorders, there are some interesting facts that emerge.  Two of the main groups that are searching online are the newly diagnosed and the chronically ill (and their caregivers).

Newly Diagnosed

The Newly Diagnosed patients search intensively and enlist a wide network of friends and family. They desire 24-hour access to expertise and similar patients. They make up only 5% of the health seeker population but account for 40% of the online health searches.  40% — They are searching intensively giving themselves a crash course on their disease.

Chronically Ill (and caregivers)

Chronically Ill patients search regularly for new therapies and are very active online.  They chat, belong to list-serves and join online communities.  They represent 35% of the health seeker population but 50% of the online traffic.

Together, the newly diagnosed and the chronically ill account for only 40% of the health seekers but 90% of the health seeking traffic.


Search Strategy in Rare Disorders

This represents an opportunity for pharma brands that they must be ready for.  We know that health seekers almost always start with search and that you should be paying attention to the long tail for your search strategy especially when dealing with rare disorders.

The part that is interesting to me is something that I have not seen any data on.  What about searches based on symptoms?  Since we know that people with rare disorders sometimes take years to get diagnosed accurately and that there are more and more stories about patients diagnosing themselves by searching for symptoms, you would think this should be a part of any marketing plan.  The danger is that searching for symptoms and coming up with a brand may now constitute a claim, so this is a strategy that has to be taken seriously and thought through carefully.

Anyone know about data on searches for symptoms?  Does anyone have thoughts on other ways to handle this issue?

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(Image courtesy of basykes 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.

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