Physicians online tools

screenshot_40POST SUMMARY: doctors online tools can be useful if they are easy to understand and use and provide a clear benefit to their patients or practice.

Not too long ago I was hired to do an analysis of an online tool for physicians that cost well into the six figures to develop.  The tool was designed to help physicians determine if the company’s product was a “good choice” for a chronic health condition.  The key issue was that , although physicians were clicking on the page with the tool the bounce rate was very high.

Online research findings indicated that although doctors found the tool promising the gap between expectation and the way the tool actually worked was quite wide.  Another issue was that doctors found the tool “too complex” to use and thus they gave up after starting to use this diagnostic program.  The bottom line was that the failure to conduct a usability study along with a misunderstanding of the audience all contributed to a good idea that was destined to fail.

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Empathy is an important aspect for all marketers and that applies to marketing to physicians as well. Today’s doctors are fighting a battle to transform their practices from being paper based to technology based at the same time insurers are imposing new treatment guidelines.  While more and more doctors are using iPads and smartphones the depth and complexity of online tools and practice information is overwhelming a lot of doctors, even those who are technology enabled.

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The first thing we need to understand is that, like consumers, the physician’s world is a multi – screen.

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But that doesn’t mean they are abandoning their PC’s.  Physicians still spend a lot of time in the office with big screen PC’s reading medical journals and going to sites like Medscape.

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The question then becomes do doctors really have the time to learn new online tools?  The answer is yes and no.  Yes, if the tools can help them improve patient care and the efficiency of their practice, but no if the tool requires a lot of learning, is not intuitive and is not used for every patient. It’s also important to understand that the line between physian segmentation around technology is slowly disappearing.

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We need to ensure that online tools for doctors are both easy to use and that they clearly understand the benefits to both their patients and practice. Complex online tools are not going to have a high utility if physicians don’t use them a lot and marketers should be wary between great ideas an execution when developing online tools for doctors.

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