ePatients and health apps

imagesKEY TAKEAWAY: A lot of patients and caregivers don’t have the time to research every aspect of their health condition(s) and most pharma companies haven’t done anything to get them the information THEY need to manage their health problems.

Newly diagnosed patients and their caregivers are often overwhelmed with health information and usually have to go to a number of websites to get the information they need to make treatment decisions and manage their health.  While the conventional thinking is that the information on a site like WebMD is enough the research that I have been involved with over the last three years says “no”. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Patients and caregivers need more information beyond the basics.[/inlinetweet]

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[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]When we asked some people, in research, if they thought they were “empowered patients” the vast majority said “no”. [/inlinetweet] Why?  Because there was just too much information on their health issues and they often didn’t know who to turn to to sort it out.  Some turned to social media to listen in to the conversation (Twitter was first choice), others went to community websites, but often would not post or register because of privacy issues. What was really telling was that in the six cities we went to not one person said that they had ever been asked to give their opinion on what THEY need in online health information.  As one woman said “thank you for finally asking me what I want”.

Then there is the disruption of health apps. The hype around health startups in in high gear, but what they are forgetting is that medicine is not an exact science, that’s why they call it the practice of medicine. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]To suggest that an app can replace an HCP with all their years of experience is troubling[/inlinetweet] which is why most doctors don’t believe the data from them.   Health apps should help patients manage their health not replace a physician.  Millennials need to understand that health is not simply a diagnosis, get an Rx and go.

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There is no doubt that health is going through some dramatic changes and that the integration of online/offline is moving forward, but somewhere along the way we are leaving patients behind. We’re forgetting to ask the “what they want and need” as tech startups launch apps and sites in a void.  The best skill for any health startup is to “think and act like a patient” with empathy. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] The most missed opportunity in pharma is the belief that “our website is done”.[/inlinetweet] That’s going to come back as a major missed opportunity.