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What do you mean, “e-patient”? Learning from the CDC’s Social Media Campaign
May 14

The annual Deloitte Survey of Health Care Consumers is must read research—along with the Manhattan Research Cybercitizen Survey and the Pew Internet Project—for those interested in the e-patient movement.

The overarching goal of the 2009 Deloitte survey is to understand whether or not Americans are behaving like traditional consumers when it comes to health care. Some of the key findings include:

  • 30% have compared doctors online in prior 12 months
  • 6 in 10 looked online for treatment information
  • 9% have a personal health record, 42% would want a PHR if their doctor’s office was linked to it too
  • Only 4 in 10 take medications as directed

We know from previous survey research that the vast majority of Americans now search online for health information.  Going further, Deloitte segments the population into six cohorts: Content & Compliant, Shop & Save, Out & About, Casual & Cautious, and most active as e-patients are the Online and Onboard and the Sick and Savvy, with a combined representation of 33.3%.

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An analysis of e-patients as consumers will be critical to learning how to best connect, engage, and educate them. While marketers routinely profile doctors by product adoption behaviors (eg, innovative to conservative), patients are generally segmented by disease specifics. Thinking of patients as health consumers could lead to fresh marketing approaches. For example, the Online & Onboard and Sick & Savvy segments look suspiciously like Innovators and Early Adopters to use the Diffusion of Innovations theory of Everett Rogers.

The Deloitte survey covers a lot of ground but its number one finding is that healthcare is a consumer market. Not that it should be, or that it will become one. We are already acting as health consumers, and we will embrace that which adds to our care, convenience and control.

Deloitte raises key questions for the life science industry:

  • Can therapeutics makers assist consumers in medical adherence and healthier lifestyles?
  • How can drug and biotech companies create and sustain brand loyalty among users?
  • What innovative channels offer increased access to consumer markets?

I loved Deloitte’s conclusions as they support so much of the work I’m passionate about.

Consumerism in health care is not a threat to stakeholders that recognize the value of connecting with end users who ultimately drive demand…

The findings of this study suggest that growing numbers of consumers want to be actively engaged.

Consumerism is not a fad; it is a trend of enormous significance.

So what do you think? Is healthcare consumerism a fait accompli? Will healthcare marketing strategies have to be more focused on the consumer rather than the physician?

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  • Would be interested to see how this compares to the other surveys. I like your comparison to the Online & Onboard Sick and Savvy segment to Diffusion of Innovation!

  • Personally, I'm thrilled to see evidence that engaged patients are a big (and growing) piece of the pie chart.

    It's great news for docs, too, to see that the engaged are much more "compliant" i.e. more likely to follow advice. That fits grandly with Stanley Feld MD's "Physicians are coaches, patients are players" metaphor.

  • jackbilson3

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Paul Keckley a few times and I find him and his arm of D&T one of the most valuable and balanced resources in the industry today.

    The insights on the expectations and desires of patients (e.g. online medical records, email their PCP, schedule a appointment online) seem to be going unanswered today and based on probable reforms and cost issues unlikely to be answered easily.

  • Would love to hear what you think about Deloitte's findings. Please comment!

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