Relations between doctors and their patients have undergone significant transformation over the course of many centuries. Their character used to be paternal once. From communication methods (doctors used the Latin language) to the patient’s role in the treatment process, the advantage of a doctor over a patient was enormous.
Robert Koch noticed in 1882 that a therapy does not yield expected results if the patient does not follow the doctor’s recommendations. Foundations of the compliance concept (i.e. following the doctor’s recommendations) have been established by the scientists of McMaster University Medical Centre in 1970. Among other things, they pointed out that non-compliance with the doctor’s recommendations is costly both for the patient and for the healthcare system. They also noted that the non-compliance is the most significant factor that hampers the treatment of chronic diseases.
The advent of the Internet has revolutionised all areas of human life, including the area of health. The Internet is influencing the patient’s behaviour more and more. ‘Dr Google’ has become a common phrase. The Internet turned into a place where disease symptoms are diagnosed and information is obtained. It became a large platform for the free exchange of opinions regarding illnesses and their treatment. Never in history has the patient gained so easy access to medical content and ‘self-diagnosis.’
Role of the Internet in the health world
Thanks to analyses aided by the SWOPER Analytics® statistical and analytical platform, it has been observed that the motivation of a patient for the search of medical content increases along with the severity of symptoms of a disease.
In view of the increasing Internet access and the development of civilisation diseases, the number of people who use the Internet to make a ‘self-diagnosis’ and to decide which treatment method to take is growing year by year. Patients use the Internet to participate in treatment in a conscious manner.
At the same time, although the web positively contributes to health education, it can also have a negative impact. The Internet is a medium where one may find a lot of unreliable information. It is not without a reason that it is believed by some to be a ‘junk medium.’
As the patient-doctor relation is changing and the Internet is gaining more importance in the course of treatment, manufacturers of drugs are faced with a necessity to change their approach towards contemporary forms of promotion of medicinal products, drugs and therapy.
The online path of a patient
It was only a few years ago that in order to become a customer of a company by purchasing its products or services, a patient had to visit a doctor. After the diagnosis had been made, the doctor prescribed or recommended an appropriate therapy and the patient purchased drugs in a pharmacy. The patient’s path was very simple: A SYMPTOM OF A DISEASE - A VISIT TO A DOCTOR - A PURCHASE IN A PHARMACY. The patient was able to find out about the effectiveness of drugs only after their application.
This process looks entirely different today. Due to the increased availability of the Internet, a consumer who is a potential patient is no longer passive and fully dependent on a doctor’s verdict. Today he or she can search for information and answers to health-related questions and see how the Internet community evaluates drugs or confirms a diagnosis.
Among the underlying principles of marketing (APIC) is the necessity to identify current situation, examine the availability of online content and then to plan further action.
Anyone who does pharmaceutical marketing should note that a person who seeks for information on the Internet is a potential patient and customer. The principal goal is therefore to provide Internet users with reliable information by publishing it in strategic locations.
You just need to be constantly present on the ‘online path’ of a patient.
The Internet and patient behaviour are the key areas of concern of Pharmamarketing 2.0, the new era of pharmaceutical marketing.