Thinking beyond just patients

imagescaregiversnetworkPOST SUMMARY:  According to Pew Internet people living with chronic conditions are more likely than other adults to tap into every health information resource available to them, online and offline. When asked to think about the last time they had a serious health issue and to whom they turned for help: 81% of all adults living with one or more chronic conditions got information, care, or support from a doctor or other health care professional, 65% of all adults living with one or more chronic conditions got information or support from friends and family and27% of all adults living with one or more chronic conditions got information or support from others who have the same health condition.  DTC marketers have to think about the entire brand experience and beyond the patient.

The internet enables people to not only gather health information, but to share it and even create it.  Internet users living with chronic conditions stand out from their peers in noteworthy ways: sharing questions online and reading or watching other people’s health stories online. Of those who have posted health questions online, eight in ten say they were hoping to reach a general audience of friends and other internet users, compared with just one in ten who say they hoped to get feedback from a health professional. Peer advice trumps professional advice in certain situations, as previous research has shown yet most drug websites are designed for patients not caregivers or family members.

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Think about this for a moment: how many of you reading this post have family members or close friends that have a chronic health condition?  Would you like to understand the why and how behind their health problems and help in a way that says “I care about you and want you to become healthier?” There are a lot of people who have high blood pressure, for example, that may be consuming too much salt and there are way too many pre-diabetic patients who continue to both consume too many calories and too much sugar.  Being able to understand these health problems is paramount to helping them seek treatment rather than waiting for a more serious health problem to emerge.

The Internet can provide us with a wealth of health information, yet it’s what WE do with that information is the most critical to improving health outcomes.  

It would be nice to see a PDF download for caregivers about how to talk to loved ones about chronic health problems but it would be even nicer if DTC marketers acknowledged the importance of a patients personal network in seeking treatment.

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