Commentary

Health Care Ads Produce Patients

According to data released by Kantar Media from its 2018 MARS Consumer Health Study, US adults are increasingly looking for health information online, to the extent that half say the internet is the first source they go to when researching health and wellness. Smartphones are also playing a growing role in health research, says the report. An estimated 22.9 million adults will use a smartphone to research or read reviews on treatment this year, according to Kantar Media’s study, a figure that would represent more than twice the number from 2015 (10.9 million).

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Adobe, in a recent study, revealed that 57% of traffic to consumer health information sites comes from mobile devices, including 48% from smartphones. As a result of the growing use of the internet, and mobile devices, for health research, consumers are being exposed to healthcare advertising. Specifically, per Kantar Media’s data, 2 in 5 people who have been diagnosed with a condition have seen or heard healthcare advertising on the internet or on a mobile device in the past year.

Most appear to have taken an action as a result of the advertising, too: 

  • 60% have done so in response to advertising on a mobile device 
  • 55% in response to ads on the internet
  • 42% have taken some action as a result of seeing a healthcare ad on TV

While TV has traditionally been the top medium for healthcare advertising, the Healthcare & Pharma industry is the 10th-largest spender on digital advertising, with a double-digit rise in spending expected, says the report

The most common action taken in response to seeing healthcare ads on the internet or a mobile device, according to the report, is conducting an online search, leading the analysts to note that digital healthcare can assist with patient compliance. 24% of adults with a diagnosed condition who were exposed to healthcare advertising report having done so in the past year. 

Leading responses included: 

  • Refilling a prescription (17%) 
  • Taking medication (14%) 
  • Making an appointment to see a doctor (13%) 

Other Study Highlights:

  • 8 in 10 adults use the internet for health and wellness purposes, up from 71% in 2015.
  • Health information sites (68%,) and search engine results (66%,) are considered the most valuable digital sources of health information to those with a diagnosed condition, though many also find websites dedicated to a particular health condition (59%) and online communities/support groups or social networking sites (42%) to be valuable.

NOTE About the Data: The MARS Consumer Health Study is an annual, bilingual survey of approximately 20,000 adults across the US capturing key healthcare, pharma and media data.

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