Mobile usage transforming doc/patient relations

The dynamics in the exam room are changing rapidly and mobile is having a profound impact on how patients treat their conditions and the overall doctor-patient-caregiver relationship, according to “Consumer Mobile Health Impact Assessment: How the Use of Mobile Impacts Disease Treatment and Therapy,” a new study of mobile usage in health care undertaken by Digitas Health, the leading digitally native brand agency for the new era of healthcare marketing. Although the study reveals that patients using more mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are most proactive with their own care, it also indicated that those with limited mobile device access are twice as likely to be untreated. The study results were revealed at m.2013, an invitation-only, one-day conference hosted by Digitas Health that brings together industry leaders and mobile experts to share their vision for mobile health innovation for pharma brands.

“The Digitas Health Mobile Study sheds new light on how consumers are using mobile to take charge of their health and does so at the disease-related level, which is almost unheard of in other studies,” says Alexandra von Plato, president and global chief creative officer of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. “These findings will enable marketers to understand how to engage with patients and physicians to leverage mobile to generate better health outcomes. By understanding when, where and how mobile is being used in the healthcare treatment and decision process, marketers can provide more meaningful tools and build stronger relationships with their customers.”

Mobile in the exam room
The Digitas study finds that brands that provide mobile tools for patients and physicians to use in the exam room can have a significant advantage over those that do not provide such interactive tools. Patients and their physicians are using mobile together, which is indicative of treatment behavior and decisions. Nowhere is this influence more apparent than in the exam room itself, where more than one in three respondents report that either they or their physician has used a mobile device at the point of care. Physician use of mobile indicates increased patient use of mobile. Nearly 80 percent of mobile health users said they’ve accessed health information for their condition while in a healthcare setting; overall patient use of mobile in the physician’s office and pharmacy is 30-50 percent higher with users whose doctor has used mobile in the exam room.

The respondents also revealed that mobile in the exam room indicated switching behavior. Using their mobile in the exam room corresponds with users being 80 percent more likely to switch medications, and more than doubles the chance that they will ask for specific medications – compared to only 25 percent more likely when accessed in the waiting room alone. “Our study has brought to light the potential significant influence that apps may have for the future of healthcare for prevention, treatment and management of most disease conditions,” says Geoff McCleary, VP and director of mobile innovation at Digitas Health. In fact, 100 percent of those accessing mobile in the exam room said they would use an app, if recommended by their physician.

“The ability for app usage to affect repeat versus switching of medication is a signal to healthcare brands and marketers that we need to act quickly and be creative to tap into this unprecedented access to patients and physicians during the exam … or risk being locked out,” McCleary says. “We found that more than half (55 percent) of mhealth patients currently on a prescription drug were either planning on, or would consider, switching prescription medications in the next year.”

The App Rx
The study also indicated that digital tools are preferred over drugs as more (up to 90 percent) patients and caregivers say they would take an app if their physician prescribed it. Nine out of 10 patients said they did (or would) use an app when recommended by a physician compared to industry data suggesting that only two-thirds of patients will fill a prescription that is written by a physician.

Getting mobile ready
By tracking more than 30 mobile engagement points across 20+ diseases, this research provided data that will help to better equip health and wellness brands with effective strategies for engaging with patients and physicians around mobile devices. Leveraging this new data, Digitas Health has created two new tools: The Mobile Readiness Assessment Tool and mobile IDEA Map (Insights Driven Engagement Analysis). “The connected are becoming more connected as smart device purchases are poised to increase, and consumers are depending on them to understand their disease condition, accept their diagnosis and manage their treatment,” McCleary says.

Posted: December 2013

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