Patients confused over DTC

According to PR Newswire “data show that the estimated $5.4 billion DTC-ad spend in the US helps to enable a more aware and engaged patient, sparking important dialogues with healthcare providers. Physicians in InCrowd’s microsurvey reported receiving three times the number of questions as a result of DTC ads than five years ago—from an average of one question a week to three a week. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Doctors say DTC drug ads drove 3X patient questions, but 87% observed patient confusion with ads [/inlinetweet]. DUH

Once again data with little insights.  Here are the stats from the survey:

When asked if their patients generally understand the information provided by the pharmaceutical companies in advertisements,

  • 65% said no.
  • In a separate question, when asked how many of their patients could understand or interpret this information in the DTC ads, nearly 87% of physicians observed some level of patient confusion with the ads.
  • 43% said that “some of my patients” can understand or interpret them,
  • 41% said that “few” patients understand the ads
  • 3% said that “none of my patients” can understand the ads.
  • only 13% of physicians said “most of my patients can interpret/understand” these ads.
  • 49% percent said the ads generally impair or confuse their patients’ understanding of their condition, the treatment, and risks that may occur.
  • Those who thought the ads had no effect on their patients represented 35%
    16% said the ads led to an improved understanding by patients of their condition, treatment options, and risks.

Hmmm. So let’s try and understand what this tells us.  First, let’s look at the results of a recent Twitter Medscape survey:

So, HCP’s are saying that patients should take more responsibility in their outcomes but DTC confuses patients?

Now I am not going to go into the stats around DTC marketing, you can read my input in this STAT column.  However, if there is one key takeaway I have learned from all my years of doing research it is that no site, or sites, can give patients the same education that HCP’s receive and that most pharma sites are both hard to understand or do a good job of educating and informing patients about their health problems. However, there is also a another factor that is not being discussed; physician’s inability to discuss health problems, in depth, with patients.

After all the research I have been in, and believe me, it’s a lot, on behalf of clients we have heard over and over again how[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] patients want and need a better relationship with their doctor based on trust and respect.[/inlinetweet]  But today do doctors really have the time to explain health conditions in depth to patients? That answer is no.

Doctors are paid to see as many patients as possible.  It’s diagnose, treat and write an Rx and see you in two weeks.  That model is very broken.  Until then patients are left to fend for themselves and to navigate the jungle of online health information that is both confusing and hard to understand.


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