The Doctor Will See You Now--Online
One year from now, about 32 million Americans—more than the total population of New Jersey and New York State --will enter the health care system. That’s the year Obamacare comes into effect full flower, and non-insured people will have to sign up with a provider, or pay a penalty.
Perhaps then, Americans who haven’t noticed it so far will discover the plain fact that there is a major physician shortage in the United States. There are 13,000 fewer than needed right now and that will grow to 130,000 within a dozen years. The shortage is made worse by another plain fact: The United States is getting older. And that means it’s getting sicker.
Online video has a role in helping reduce the problem, and profiting from it. As Medical Marketing & Media points out, the medical industry, looking ahead to the initiation of near-universal health care, will be growing medical sites and spending grows even more urgently, and that Big Pharma will be using online video to woo patients and pharmacists. It goes way beyond WebMD.
When MM&M asked Deborah Dick-Rath, president of the healthcare consultancy firm Epic Proportions, to spell other ways online might become more of a player online she predicts that Americans will become accustomed to getting real one-on-one online video medical advice.
“The trend of patients avoiding the doctor's office will translate into greater use of online physician consultations,” Dick-Rath says.
She notes, “A recent research brief from Pearl.com—based on a survey of 1,000 adults by the online advice service—noted that 54% of respondents have lied to a doctor about a health issue, and 41% feel more comfortable asking questions about sex-related issues online than addressing them with their physicians. So online doctor consultations, like those available through services and apps like Healthtap.com, are poised for much greater use in the next few months. This is supported by the general trend toward more online, less in-person consultations that we see. There are also sites for veterinarian consultations.”
That view is shared, but with a little more nuance, by Dr. Susan Dorfman,chief marketing/innovation officer, CMI/Compas, the direct-to-professional media buying firm. She’s extensively studied Web-based self-directed health options and tells MM&M she thinks, “As face-to-face access to customers continues to challenge us and as more and more customers start raising their hand in favor of non-personal engagement, investments in multiple channels of reach will continue to rise. Surely, digital will be one of those channels to grow, but not the only. Traditional and other innovative ways of connecting with customers will also increase in importance for these customers, as will the spend that will follow.”