People are increasingly seeking medical advice via the web and social media instead of drug maker websites, according to an Accenture survey.
It suggests pharmaceutical companies are falling short in addressing this captive audience. According to the survey, of the 68% of those who go online for health information, slightly more than one in 10 (11%) regularly turn to a pharmaceutical company's website to seek information about an illness or medical condition, compared to nine in 10 (92%) who look to other online resources more frequently.
The survey of more than 850 consumers suggests that pharma companies that are not using multiple online channels are missing the boat, according to Accenture. It also demonstrates that what was previously a predominantly one-way company-to-patient dialogue has shifted to a patient-to-patient or a patient-to-physician dialogue due to social networks and online communities.
"Pharmaceutical companies that embrace innovations such as social networking and communications via mobile devices and integrate and align their communication strategy across multiple channels will be positioned to have a much greater influence on their patients' choices and consequently, realize significant increases in revenue, profitability and sustained competitive advantage," says Tom Schwenger, global managing director for Accenture's Life Sciences Sales and Marketing practice.
According to the survey, 69% of respondents expect pharmaceutical companies to provide information about the medical condition or illness for which they are taking drugs. To address that expectation, Accenture believes pharmaceutical companies must not only provide the right information, but upgrade their websites to create a more dynamic, interactive experience, demonstrate an understanding of their patients' needs, provide holistic solutions and clearly reinforce their brand identity in a two-way dialogue.
There is a "clear disconnect" in how pharma companies communicate with their patients, Schwenger says. "Companies need to reevaluate their marketing campaigns to ensure they are integrated across all patient touch-points and channels to meet customer demand for health solutions, increase trust and brand loyalty and enhance customer perceptions." The study was based on an online survey conducted by Accenture of 852 adult consumers in the U.S. between Aug. 30, 2010 and Sept. 3, 2010. The survey sample is representative by gender, age, and geography of the U.S. population. Consumers polled indicated they or someone in their household was currently taking prescribed medications.