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Leveraging the Trend toward Digital Healthcare

Americans are ready and willing to engage with digital healthcare apps and wearable devices.

By Kathryn Lewis • Director of Strategy • April 15, 2015

Digital Healthcare Apps

A majority of Americans, particularly millennials, are willing to engage in digital channels for healthcare information and management. Are you ready?

The Fifth Annual “Pulse of Online Health” Survey put out by Kelton and Makovsky Health, makes it clear that Americans today are ready and willing to engage with health apps and wearable devices to improve their personal health.

The statistics are enlightening:
66% of Americans would use a mobile app to manage health-related issues (with millennials twice as likely as those aged 66 and older).

The top interests when downloading apps:
• Tracking diet/nutrition 47%
• Medication reminders 46%
• Tracking symptoms 45%
• Tracking physical activity 44%

Likewise, 79% of Americans would be willing to use a wearable device to manage their health, with slightly different priorities for function:
• Tracking physical activity 52%
• Tracking symptoms 45%
• Managing a personal health issue or condition 43%
• Tracking sleep patterns 41%
• Tracking diet/nutrition 39%

In terms of getting medical advice, online searches are becoming the “virtual house call”. Perceived trust and quality sources are important to consumers, who are 3 times more likely to look to WebMD (57%) than to government-affiliated websites.

91% of Americans would search online for health information, looking for:
• Condition management 58%
• Exploring symptoms 57%
• Researching a prescribed treatment 55%

80% of Americans are willing to visit a pharma-sponsored website. Interestingly, millennials are 25% more likely than those 66+ in age to trust a pharma-sponsored platform (31% vs 6%), and are 23% more likely to be motivated by an advertisement to visit a pharma site. Patients diagnosed with a chronic medical condition report “complete trust” in these channels at nearly double the rate of the average population.

What does all this mean for Healthcare and Life Science marketers?
1) As the population ages and millennial digital media consumption habits become more and more the norm, it is absolutely imperative that marketers have a well-defined and well-executed digital healthcare strategy.

2) Mobile apps, including wearables, will be a critical part of the digital mix. We have found that branded pharma apps that support health, well-being, and compliance can have a meaningful impact on brand preference, brand loyalty, persistence, and lifetime patient value. Bringing an engaging patient app to market can yield long-term ROI.

3) Your website can be a critical source of information. Make sure that it contains easily accessible, valuable information not just about the condition your brand treats and how it works, but also about broader lifestyle and condition management recommendations.

4) Make sure that your site is fully optimized for search. You want to capture all those people seeking information online about various conditions and treatments.

5) Employ SEM and digital advertising to drive traffic to your site or to encourage app downloads. It works.

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