AMA CEO Dr. James Madara’s remarks last week decrying “Digital snake oil” got a lot of press coverage, but his call for tools that help physicians improve patient care drew less notice.

“Digital tools that would simplify and better organize our lives,” said Madara, “and also adapt to the natural variations in our practices—those that would free more time for patient interactions—that's what we want. Tools like that we'd love—love, love, love. There are too few of these today.”

One consistent theme we’re seeing throughout our U.S. physician studies this year is that of the need for pharma to go beyond product information in its digital offerings to doctors. Physicians are grappling with a wave of sweeping change, from the increasing centrality of the EHR in their daily practice to the new measures that impact reimbursement -– 43% agree that their organizations are struggling to understand and meet goals of value and quality, such as hospital re-admittance rates, cost per patient and patient outcomes. They’ve been swamped with increasing demands on their time, from inputting patient data to the sheer volume of new patients that healthcare reform has brought into the system.

Beyond the next-generation connected health tools and apps on the technological horizon, they need help today, with patient education, disease prevention and adherence. Our studies show that:

  • Nearly half of physicians (46%) say they expect pharma to provide beyond-the-pill services, such as digital patient support programs and pill-plus services that boost outcomes or adherence.
  • Demand is strong for patient-related resources, such as disease info, patient education materials, and patient assistance. At least 70% of physicians either use or are interested in accessing each of these patient-oriented content types on pharma digital properties.
  • Patient financial support services are an increasingly critical tool for physicians to support cost-sensitive patients. Half of all physicians use coupons or copay cards (53%) and patient assistance programs (47%), and HCPs report that they are significantly more likely to prescribe drugs that come with quality patient support materials.

It’s not enough to simply build these resources and hope physicians find them – they need to be promoted through the sales force, search, websites for healthcare professionals and other channels. Doing so stands to drive physician engagement with pharma websites, setting in motion a virtuous cycle and maximizing investment in digital properties across the board. Half of physicians (48%) agree that they would visit pharma websites more frequently if non-product resources were available there.

We have some exciting findings regarding physician attitudes and behaviors around telehealth and beyond-the-pill technologies that we’ll be exploring in future posts...

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