The consumerism of healthcare

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma needs more consumer markers because patients are consumers of health care and that extends into prescription drug choices as well.  The days of using TV to push prescription drugs and patients running to their doctor are pretty much over.

Consider these statistics for a moment:

  • 1 in 20 searches on Google is for health-related information.
  • Healthcare providers are turning to digital sources for information and to engage with one another for everything from consultation to consolation, as shown in the 15% increase in health-related searches over the last four years.
  • Decision Resources Group reports that, in 2015, 43% of patients searched for medical information before seeing a doctor , and 72% of patients with preexisting conditions (such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes) searched when first experiencing symptoms to understand what condition they might have. They also report that 60% of patients with preexisting conditions like to validate a doctor’s opinion with their own online research.
  • According to Treato “only seven percent of respondents said they have asked a doctor about a drug after seeing an advertisement about it on TV.

Ok, so what does all this mean for DTC marketers?  It means that changes are needed in the way we think and develop DTC strategy.  It’s estimated that 54% of consumers read other consumer review of products before they purchase.  I would venture to theorize, that for prescription drugs, that number is a lot higher.  The MS community, for example, is using social media to make or break new MS drugs by talking about nasty side effects, costs and potential new drugs in the pipeline.


For years I have continually heard the excuse “we’re a regulated industry” when it comes to talking to and with patients.  That is bullshit.  Some pharma companies are going out on very thin limbs to make their marketing relevant to patients who are comparing therapies.  It’s not just about drug efficacy, it’s about drug efficacy balanced with side effects that allow people to live a quality of life on THEIR terms.  Hiding in the bathroom until flushing goes away with an MS drug is not an option and the people at Biogen should have known this if they were listening.

If you believe that patients are passive and are going to take an Rx from their doctor right to the pharmacy to fill without listening to others ten you are becoming extinct as a dinosaur. DTC marketing has to evolve to take into account the key changes in the way consumers approach healthcare.  If not that flushing sound will be future DTC budgets.