No digitization with HCP’s is not permanent

IN SUMMARY: When patients return to doctor’s offices will HCP’s have time to go online with every drug company that requests an online detail? Will patients be happy with telehealth once they feel it’s safe to return to physicians’ offices?

After I read the Medscape report on the move to digitization I decided to reach out to some industry contacts to hear what they had to say. While most agreed that digital plays an important role now they feel that when patients return to the office HCP’s won’t have the time to go online with every drug company that is requesting an online detail.

As for patients, the University Of Michigan said in a recent research “When adults age 50–80 who had ever had a telehealth visit compared office visits to telehealth visits, the majority perceived office visits as providing a higher overall quality of care (58% in May 2019 vs. 56% in June 2020) and better communication with health care providers (55% in May 2019 vs. 54% in June 2020). However, in both surveys, telehealth visits were perceived as more convenient than office visits (47% in May 2019 vs. 56% in June 2020). In the past year, a greater proportion of older adults reported that the amount of time spent with the health care provider was about the same during telehealth and office visits (31% in May 2019 vs. 42% in June 2020).”

The most common concerns about telehealth visits among older adults surveyed in June 2020 were that a health care provider cannot conduct a physical exam (75%) and that the quality of the care is not as good as in-person (67%). Other concerns noted were not feeling personally connected to the health care provider (45%), having difficulty hearing or seeing the health care provider (25%), and privacy (24%).

Younger patients see telehealth as a way to save time in the Internet age. To them, an HCP is just a “step” to an Rx so naturally telehealth is an advantage.

Back to HCP’s…digitization can’t replace the relationships that pharma reps and MLS people build with doctors. Even though pharma companies rotate people in and out of positions a lot some pharma reps have a great relationship with physicians with Oncologists ranking them as an important part of communication with pharm companies.

So what is the future of digitization within healthcare? For HCP marketing it will be PART of the mix but won’t yet replace in-person reps. If a pharma company can make online so valuable that HCP’s will see it as an essential information source it will become a bigger slice of the pie. For companies that don’t put in the time or effort to continually the improve the online experience, it will fail.

What we need to look at is the crop of new physicians who are entering practice. Since they grew up with and went to school will the Internet will they continue that trend as doctors?

As for patients? Right now the majority of patients are afraid to go into the doctor’s office. They are trying to get around this by talking about how they are cleaning offices and practicing social distancing but as long as COVID dangers remain in the news patients will stay away.