New research shows that patients turn to search engines for health and medication information, and no longer just rely on physicians.
About.com surveyed 1,321 people via their site and the chart below shows the actions taken right after diagnosis. Compared to the survey last year, the numbers of patients who use a search engine to research the prescribed drug before getting it filled has risen from 12% to 30%.
The Impact For Pharma
Increasingly, people are using the internet to help them make decisions about their medical care. Respondents said they rely on online information to:
- Research medications and their potential side effects before taking them (62%)
- Research and compare various treatments and therapies (61%)
- Help make decision on prescription medications (34% say information found online will have more of an influence on prescription medication this year, compared to last year)
- Verify what doctors tell them (49%)
This data shows that it’s more important than ever that prescription brands provide websites that are easily found via search (both paid and organic) and offer detailed information.
It’s essential to note that this survey was taken online by people who were visiting About.com, however these trends are supported by other research.
The survey also showed that people were responsive to pharmaceutical advertisers providing them with information on side effects and safety (58%), ways to cope with a disease (47%) and drug effectiveness (55%). Ads with printable health tips, free trial offers and patient stories were rated the most helpful.
This highlights that people are open to listening to pharma for what they believe pharma can help them with. It’s up to pharma (and their partners) to do better than coupons to engage them and bring value.
This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.
(Image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass on Flickr)