30,000 new patients? Free consults? Tele-health/Telemedicine takes off. (But can doctors compete?)

(A 3-minute read but great content to explore to get the deeper story! I am going to bookend this post.)

Here’s a novel idea: maybe Biopharma can expand their business model to include tele-health services and develop this new revenue stream and offer it to large health systems?

These past few weeks seemed like “Tele-health Month” in my email and in the content I read weekly. But as usual amidst all the noise, market and human realities need to be considered. Before we get to the take-off of tele-health, let’s look at the current leader of the treatment model — the doctor.

Tele-health vendors are filling in some vital cracks in the health system. Doctors in large systems or in private practice need to be aggressive with their digital patient outreach or fall further into non-relevance. Do they need to be convinced? Do the tele-health service companies threaten their practice future?

Yes, on all fronts. Medical Economics, a great HCP site, posted an article on the “Top 7 reasons physicians should consider telemedicine”. While the reasons are good ones, anyone close to the shifting dynamics of the industry have to wonder if the article is for Luddites or those already left behind. You could say that doctors are already emailing with patients through their EHR Portal, but most of us know that is usually a notice about tests or a non-committal note about appointments.

HealthTap is pushing the limits very well. In a great, smart and moving email from HealthTap those who suffered from Hurricane Matthew are offered free consults, a perfect reason for tele-health and one that creates market share:

I think this is a brilliant example of smart marketing; this free offers is an obvious and dramatically relevant reason to engage with telehealth. Add the humanity/compassion of their free offer and you see how fast this could be adopted. When marketing and compassion come together, it always wins.

Then, I receive an email from American Well, stating:

“Learn how Southwest Medical Associates enrolled more than 30,000 patients in telehealth and conducted more than 20,000 telehealth visits.” Clearly not a boast, but a tipping point.


Have any of you engaged with such smartphone/tablet services? Does it feel “right” or is it still working out the kinks on what those tele-docs can do or say?

And those doctors sitting in their offices with the lineup of patients? Maybe the real worry is for those doctors — 60% + of all practices — who sold themselves to a hospital system and are paralyzed because of their loss of prescribing, and the 15-minute-per-patient performance metric. The days of waiting are nearly over. The days of lean-in and engage are here.

Here’s a novel idea: maybe Biopharma can expand their business model and develop this new revenue stream and offer it to large health systems?

If you want to discuss this, or any topic in the world of Customer-centricity, where analytic/insight meet marketing and success, call or write.

In health is the notion of “Trust” as important as a good User Experience? A new study offers the stunning truth.

Summary: one new study by Makovsky/Kelton delve into the latest trends of online behavior and the issue of trust among key audiences and healthcare. The results seem to indicate that a good User Experience is almost as important as the source, if not more! Read on for the story and stats, and a few helpful conclusions.

Are we really so superficial? Or have we as consumers finally reached that tipping point of where our Experience with Web site content is truly how we frame our trust of that content? Just check out this chart and see how the “trust” chart line and the “ease-of-use” from the Makovsky “Pulse of Online Search Survey, 2016”.

I love human contradictions. We are so simple and yet so complex. Take a few observations from this chart: Advocacy sites are the most trusted and yet least visited…is that really because their “ease-of-use” is so crude, under-funded and under-engaging? It would seem so.

59% trust Advocacy sites, but only 19% visit them.

53% visit WebMD, but only 39% trust the content.

And for Biopharma? Only 10% visit (OUCH) but of those, around 40% trust the content and find it easy-to-use.

Does that mean that Biopharma’s (bad) reputation is the biggest block to more brand site visitation? Or, as the report teases out, is the real key that Biopharma brands need to pull down the walls and channel the authenticity of the Advocacy groups and their own branded needs? Why can’t Advocacy groups distribute their content on brand sites?  It almost seems a childish church-and-state separation.

Last eye-opening but not surprising stat:

95% of online Searchers (18+) trust their doctor. BUT 62% research the recommended treatment after a visit. Does that tell us that consumers have just embraced this habit, or is it that ever-shorter, ever-less-satisfying visit to the doctor leaves us with more questions than answers? Another reason why Biopharma brands need to accept that patients want the science — brands need to start sharing their clinical information, as well as disease state, with transparency. Patients are looking for that information — but they are not looking at the branded site.

The lead researcher is quite succinct in setting the reality, the challenge and the opportunity for healthcare brands — hospitals or manufacturers — to pay attention to: “The type of health information consumers seek online is changing, as well – with consumer behaviors clearly shifting from symptom-focused research to treatment-focused research, both before and after doctor visits,” commented Alexandra Peterson, SVP and Practice Director, Makovsky Health. “Consumer actions to prepare for and then validate conversations with physicians via online search illustrate the balance between patient empowerment and desire for professional guidance. Combined with the fact that the majority of patients are likely to ask their doctor for a prescription by name, survey results show that patients are walking into the doctor’s office armed with more information than ever, eager to have a more active role in the treatment discussion and decision.”

CX (Customer Experience) is my work and is almost the single greatest thread that goes through every marketing conversation.  As marketing professionals, digitally conversant, we all fret and obsess at the gaps and opportunities clients either do not see, or do not have the ability to act upon. Yet, with every passing day, we all are documenting the Customer Experience in ever greater detail; as we see studies like this we need to view and share them as confirmation we are doing the right thing for our clients, patients and caregivers.

The real insight here is how healthcare and health in general is fast becoming a shopping experience — it used to be “Does it work?” when it came to treatments. Now it seems we consumer are overlaying our shopping habits to health — “I don’t like how this looks or feels”.  Since Biopharma companies DO have a lot to offer patients, focusing on CX and perhaps the trustworthiness of their content needs to come to the forefront of planning any campaign.

Want to discuss the impact of great CX or Journey Planning on your business? I can prove the results can make a big difference with even a little ‘tinkering’. Call or write me:

aoneill@harbingerassociates.net / 215-688-7613