A years worth of research on how consumers choose healthcare treatments

There is a nice big binder on my desk that contains over a years worth of research findings from qual and quant research that I have led.  There are a lot of key findings but I thought I would share some of the top ones with my readers in hopes we can all learn to become better DTC marketers.

(1) There is no “one way” in which consumers search for information on health conditions and treatments.

It’s really depends on how serious the condition is to the person searching for health information as THEY view how it impacts the quality of their life.  For example a diagnosis of high cholesterol might go untreated if the patient feels that treatment options, like statins, have side effects that impact the quality of their life.

(2) Consumers will not just go to one website to get information, they will go to a variety of sites.

They want the full picture and often want to hear both what medical professionals are suggesting and they want to hear first hand experiences of other patients.

(3) There are some people who proactively go online for health information, but they are a very small minority.

The search for health information starts with a trigger like a diagnosis, symptoms or a family member getting sick.

(4) Most consumers do not want to download health apps unless they provide a clear value.

We heard things like patients don’t want to be reminded of health conditions and they don’t have time to learn and enter data into apps.  However, there are certain segments, like diabetics, who want apps that can help them, for example, choose food that is healthier for them.

(5) The drug industry has done a lot to damage trust between consumers/patients and big pharma, but when push comes to shove most will take their prescribed medications.

If it helps them live longer and lead a better quality of life patients will take their Rx drugs.  However, for the first time we did hear that patients are skeptical of “newly” approved drugs unless their physician strongly recommends it against older generics and brands.

(6) Despite all the online research for health information a majority of consumers still trust their physicians to recommend what is best for them. However, when it comes to more invasive treatments patients want more of a say.

This is especially true for medical devices such as hip replacements.

(7) Most believe they can change unhealthy lifestyles, even though they understand they will probably fail

Patients see themselves as 10-20 pounds lighter in weight than they actually are and they also believe they are in better health than they may be.   They understand that unhealthy lifestyles lead to poor health, but they are making so many sacrifices in other areas of their lives (job, time, loss of equity in their homes) that they want to be able to treat themselves  now and then.

(8) Older demographics are being hit harder with higher co-pays and younger demographics are sharing their Rx medications.

We heard a lot about this in the 60+ demographic.  Some said that their co-pays have gone “through the roof” and younger patients feel that it’s OK to share medications to keep costs low.  Although there are numerous programs to get lower cost drugs via drug companies most do not qualify and are caught in the middle.

I’ll have more as go through the data and findings.  I would like to hear what you have learned about patients and consumers over the last year so feel free to post a response.