Need a doctor? New survey shows 90% want help from drugmakers

Healthcare consumerism seems firmly entrenched in some corners of the US healthcare system, as evidenced by rising consumer expectations and increased adoption of telehealth, self-pay platforms and retail pharmacy discounts.

It now appears that some less obvious health sectors are not immune to consumer trends. Americans increasingly expect consumer-grade digital experiences from pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, according to new research from Press Ganey, a healthcare experience analytics firm. health.

In one investigation of more than 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers, Press Ganey found that almost half (47%) of respondents look for drugs or medical devices on manufacturers’ websites, making the companies themselves the primary source after primary care providers. Less than 20% of consumers turned to their insurance company for this information.

The survey also showed that nearly 90% of Americans want drug and device manufacturers to include supplier directories on their websites with information about doctors who have the experience and qualifications to treat their disease. This desire has transcended generations, with 92% of Millennials and Gen Zers as well as 83% of Baby Boomers expressing this preference.

Overall, 83% of respondents said they would be more likely to use or recommend companies that include such online supplier directories.

Although health insurers have long offered provider directories, Andrei Zimiles, senior vice president of consumer solutions and marketing at Press Ganey, says he’s not surprised consumers are now turning to manufacturers as well. drugs and devices to obtain this information.

“Life science brands spend millions of dollars educating patients about their therapies and directing them to materials that inevitably prompt ‘talk to your doctor’ or ‘ask your doctor’ action,” said Zimiles. “It’s only natural that consumers, trained to expect instant gratification and convenience, expect brands to not only make the suggestion, but then help connect them with a healthcare provider. qualified.”

Nearly half (44%) of consumers said finding the right doctor is a barrier to their treatment.

Ideally, Zimiles says, provider directories would allow consumers to search for providers based on a variety of factors, such as location, gender, languages ​​spoken, appointment availability and accepted insurances. Some directories may also include a quality rating, for example from third-party review sites.

But maintaining supplier directories is easier said than done. Physician data is dynamic and requires continuous updates. Physicians change practices, change insurance, change their hours or availability, and retire.

These challenges have prevented life sciences companies from offering directories, according to Zimiles, or made it difficult to offer anything beyond bare bones or incomplete listings.

“There is nothing more frustrating for a consumer than wasting their time with a resource full of outdated information, disconnected phone numbers or broken links,” Zimiles said.

Consumers have options, from their insurance company’s directory, to a hospital or health system website, to Google and online ranking services. But these many options can be confusing, according to Zimiles.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry today is the lack of a trusted universal source of truth and a ‘record platform’ for provider data for healthcare providers. consumers,” he said. “What’s most important is meeting the consumer where they are, and that information needs to be up-to-date, and the user experience needs to be seamless.”

According to the survey, a good directory may also need to connect consumers to other services, such as online reviews and appointment scheduling.

Virtually all consumers surveyed (96%) said they consider online reviews somewhat or extremely important when choosing a doctor. Nearly 90% said they would find it useful to be able to compare physician ratings on life science company websites.

A majority of respondents (71%) also said telemedicine would help them keep appointments and manage their medications and 65% said they would likely use telemedicine visits to manage their prescriptions.

These expectations underscore the need for businesses to integrate their provider directories with telehealth and appointment booking functionality. Zimiles says life science companies are taking note of consumers’ desire for deeper engagement and focusing on delivering digital patient experiences.

“Forward-thinking brands recognize there is an incredible opportunity to help people, especially those with more complex conditions, dramatically accelerate their journey to life-changing treatment,” Zimiles said. “There has never been a more important time to strategically invest in more sophisticated digital tools that help consumers find and contact the right healthcare provider(s) as quickly as possible.”

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