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Is There An eDoctor In The House?: How Self-Diagnoses Impact Pharma Sales

Posted by Chuck Hajj, Executive Director on Dec 15, 2017 1:19:41 PM

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We’ve all been there. You come down with a cold, or you find a weird bump, or you just don’t feel “right.” You pick up your phone or flip open your laptop and start Googling, only to find that either your symptom is perfectly normal—or you’re expected to live for about 3 more weeks.

Either way, you figure a visit to your doctor couldn’t hurt.

Looking up your symptoms may not be best practice, but it’s motivated self-diagnostic patients to schedule more doctor’s appointments and conduct more online research into their potential ailments. 

The Rise of Online Symptom Checkers

In fact, at least one-third of people in the U.S. regularly use symptom checkers for both routine and urgent conditions—though doctors are twice as effective in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Luckily, most patients are more likely to trust point of care information than WebMD. The in-office experience not only guarantees professional input, but also provides them with additional resources unavailable to them online. And with nearly half of the population taking prescription medication, patients also often turn online to find the most effective form of that medicine to ask their doctor about.

As a result, studies show that healthcare and pharma are investing more in digital advertisements—and it’s paying off. Pharmaceutical sales have been rising across the board as a result of increasingly popular online symptom checkers.


The Wealth of Wellcare

Patients aren’t limiting their research to specific conditions, either. Health and wellness are major priorities for today’s consumer. The rise of “wellcare” has brought an increase in related content that deals not only with health and wellness, but how—and why—to attain it.

There’s major competition among consumer healthcare, biopharmaceuticals, and medical devices that encourage healthier lifestyles and an increase in general wellness. A study conducted by IQVIA shows that medical spending both by pharmacy and in hospitals, clinics and other non-retail settings, has increased an average of 1.1% per year since 2006.


How to Pique Patient Interest

“I have something for that,” is music to a patient’s ears. If their doctor recommends a medication, or better yet, provides a free trial-size sample, their purchase incentive peaks.

Providing interaction also engages waiting patients. Take advantage of the self-diagnostic era and include a survey or quiz for patients viewing your materials. (Do you exhibit symptoms X, Y, and Z? Check the following boxes.)

Whether you're marketing around an acute condition or chronic disease, you're showing the patient a clear path to treatment. Keep in mind: You're not only providing a product—you're providing relief.

We’ve all heard the call-to-action: “Ask your doctor if X, Y, Z is right for you today.” People are not only asking, but looking for more information. It’s up to you to provide it.

Topics: Marketing, Health, POC