What Consumers Want in the Pharmacy of the Future

October 20, 2019

Consumers will depend on the internet to research prescriptions and medical devices rather than a doctor’s referral.

Consumers are increasingly favoring digital resources to research prescriptions and medical devices over traditional word of mouth or specialist referrals, according to a study commissioned by Doctor.com.

The study, Digital Patient Trends in Pharma 2019, was compiled of over 1,300 adults in the United States, ages 18 to 60 years and older, who were surveyed from August to September.

The research reveals about 73% of consumers have used the internet to research a medication or medical device in the past year.

In fact, 52% consumers cite pharmaceutical and medical device brand websites as one of the most important resources in their research of a prescription or medical device.

However, many fail to ultimately connect with a doctor to successfully acquire medication or treatment, the study says.

Related: Poll Reveals How Consumers Rate Digital Experience with Healthcare

The research offers key insights into how pharmaceutical and medical device brands can meet patient expectations and play a more active role in the overall care-seeking journey:

  • The path to prescription often begins online, not in the doctor's office: About 52.2% of consumers rely on brand websites almost as much as they rely on their primary care providers (54.8%) to research prescription information or medical devices.

  • Failure to convert: About 50% of patients cite “finding the right doctor" as the No. 1 barrier to accessing a treatment or prescription.

  • Patients demand a good customer experience on brand websites: Nearly 80% of respondents over 60 and roughly 90% of all patients would find it helpful to have a doctor directory on the brand website. Roughly a third would prefer to schedule an appointment right on the site as well.

  • Brands can build loyalty by bridging the last mile of the patient journey: 87% would like to see provider ratings available in a brand's doctor directory. For the majority of consumers (55.7%), appointment scheduling options on a brand's website would increase their loyalty to the brand.

"Our study confirms that 'digital' has transformed every aspect of the healthcare journey, including how patients prefer to research and access prescription medications,” Andrei Zimiles, CEO of Doctor.com, says. “Yet even best-in-class brands are underutilizing digital channels and missing opportunities to connect with patients and caregivers at critical touchpoints leading up to the point of care.

Our hope is that this report provides valuable recommendations for the life sciences industry that will lead to further innovation in this area. By bridging the critical last mile to finding care, brands have an incredible opportunity to transform the patient journey, win consumer loyalty and make a major impact on visitation and adherence metrics."

Josh Kramon, vice president of Life Sciences Solutions, says as the market leader powering provider directories for hundreds of hospitals and health systems, they are eager to offer their platform and expertise to leading pharmaceutical brands that wish to act on the findings presented in this report.

"Doctor.com has direct relationships with tens of thousands of physicians in specialty areas like dermatology, rheumatology and behavioral health, allowing us to directly engage physicians via online scheduling experiences as part of our next-generation provider directory platform. We are already in market with multiple DTC and HCP applications for some of the top global life sciences companies, and we look forward to expanding our partnerships with innovative and patient-centric brands."

Briana Contreras is associate editor for Managed Healthcare Executive.