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Why Your Message Impacts Patients More on a Doctor’s Website

December 14, 2016

It’s important for medical device and pharma companies to provide information for patients to help them manage their conditions and know when to seek treatment.

This is something that most medical device and pharma companies do. Many distribute these messages via direct-to-patient websites, brochures, and other marketing materials.

The problem is, even when your information covers the entire continuum of care, it may not have the impact on patients that you would like.

According to Pew Research Center, patients are most likely to seek information about prescription drugs and alternative treatments from a healthcare professional. Patients see their physicians as trusted advisors.

Your information is probably just as helpful as the information provided by a physician—it’s just the perception that makes it different.

Abstract Graphic of Social Media and Digital Communication

Why Are Patients Less Likely to Trust a Direct-to-Patient Website?

The fact is, patients are less likely to trust health information if they see it on a website with your company’s branding. Even if the information is comprehensive, they feel like you are trying to push your medication or device on them. Therefore, they may perceive bias in your information, even though that isn’t the case.

Patients know that your company’s ultimate goal is to sell more devices and medications. Although your information is medically correct and discusses treatment options other than your medication or device, patients may feel that there is a conflict of interest. They don’t want to be sold to—they just want the appropriate care.

In contrast, patients see their doctors as trusted advisors. When a doctor recommends a procedure or medication, patients are much more likely to trust that advice. That isn’t to say that patients don’t seek out second opinions or more information before proceeding, but patients don’t typically believe that a doctor is trying to sell them something.

This is especially true of conditions that require short-term care. There isn’t as much brand recognition for medications and devices that do not require long-term care. A patient with a long-term condition like diabetes might be loyal to a particular company’s products if they have been helpful over the years, but a patient undergoing a knee replacement isn’t likely to be loyal to a particular brand of implant. This is why reaching the patient via the physician is so important.

There is a time and place for direct-to-patient websites and marketing materials—I’m not advocating that your company abandon the concept. I’m simply suggesting that your message might be better heard and reach even more patients through other avenues, as well.

Abstract Graphic of Medical Research

How to Send Your Message Through Doctors

Direct-to-patient websites can be very useful for patients, but getting that information out through your clients, the physicians, ensures that even more patients get the information they need to make important health decisions.

If you already have a direct-to-patient website, you probably already have lots of educational content for patients. You can make that content available to your physicians in the form of patient education.

If your content covers all of the different aspects of a condition, doctors will be more likely to use the content because it helps to vet patients before the appointment. Patients will be more likely to read and trust the information because it’s coming from a healthcare provider that they trust. As the Pew Research stats show, patients usually seek this information from their healthcare providers. Providing patient education to your physicians ensures that those patients get that information.

This is an opportunity for your company to help more of the patients who can benefit from your device or medication, and a way to help your physicians see more of the patients that need their care. It’s a win for everyone.

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