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Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient
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Communicating with the Empowered E-Patient

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This report, published via Enspektos' Path of the Blue Eye Project, focuses on e-patients and their preferences regarding online health communication.

This report, published via Enspektos' Path of the Blue Eye Project, focuses on e-patients and their preferences regarding online health communication.

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  • 1. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveE-Patient Essentials Communicating with theE-Patients: How They Can Help Us Empowered E-PatientHeal HealthcareGroundbreaking 2007 white paperoutlining and defining the e-patientmovement. Learn More I n 2007, the E-Patients Working Group published a seminal white paper on behalf of the late Tom Ferguson, MD. ThisThe Social LIfe of Health Information publication, titled “E-Patients: How They Can Help Us HealThe Pew Internet & American Life Healthcare,” provided an overview of a new movement that wasProjects 2009 report on the online habits being led by patients, caregivers and others dissatisfied with theof e-patients. Learn More status quo and determined to play a larger role in their medical care.Older E-Patients Prefer Facts, NotFriendship from Health Organizations In the white paper, Dr. Ferguson tells the tale of MarianCommunicating via Social MediaBlog post on the Path of the Blue Eye Sandmaier, who struggled to acquire the appropriate care for herProjects blog, Walking the Path, teen-age daughter. In 1999, Sandmaier took her child to thefocusing on what older e-patients want family pediatrician to investigate why her daughter wasfrom health organizations communicating complaining about having severe headaches, neck pain and avia social media. Learn More “sloshing sound inside her head.” After checking the girl over, the doctor gave a “likely” diagnosis of sinuses, advising the mother toThe E-Patient Revolution “call back in two weeks if sheʼs still having problems.”Video developed by marketingconsultancy Kru Research focusing on Sandmaier went home and turned on her computer. Her daughtere-patients. Learn More had been taking a prescribed antibiotic for a skin condition. After Sandmaier typed “minocycline” and “side effects” into her search engine, she learned the drug could be associated with a rare side effect, pseudotumor cerebri ― an accumulation of fluid around the brain causing severe headaches, neck pain and an unusual whooshing sound inside the head. Further, the condition can damage the optic nerve, producing serious vision problems and, in some cases, blindness. Sandmaier then took her daughter and a printout of her online research to the dermatologist who prescribed the antibiotic. Editor: Merry J. Whitney A Path of the Blue Eye Project Publication Send report tips to www.pathoftheblueeye.com merry@pathoftheblueeye.com
  • 2. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientThis doctor dismissed Sandmaierʼs concerns, but switched her daughter to a different prescription ―another antibiotic associated, albeit rarely, with pseudotumor cerebri. A neuro-ophthalmologist, the thirddoctor consulted, correctly diagnosed her daughterʼs condition. Discontinuation of the antibiotics clearedup her symptoms.Sandmaier is a medical journalist. Her article about her experience appeared in the Washington Post, andwon the 2004 American Society of Journalists and Authors Award for essay writing. Sandmaier is also aprototype of the twenty-first century e-patient.E-Patients: Shifting the Balance of Power in the U.S. Health SystemThe traditional doctor-patient relationship, as often as not, was characterized by a patient with little or nomedical knowledge consulting a fami ly doctor. The doctor was often perceived as nearly omniscient by thepatient. The patientʼs participation in this relationship was generally limited to providing medical-historyinformation, answering questions and following directions.Thanks to the Internet and a virtual explosion of readily-accessible information, that is no longer true.Patients, the consumers of healthcare services, are swift ly becoming active participants in the doctor-patient relationship. They are using the Internet and other sources for research, encouragement andinformation sharing. These empowered consumers are what many are now calling “e-patients.”The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines an e-patient as one of a “... new breed of informed healthconsumers, using the Internet to gather information about a medical condition of particular interest tothem. The term encompasses both those who seek online guidance for their own ailments and the friendsand family members who go online on their behalf.”E-Patients, the Internet and Social MediaPerhaps no organization has done as much a s the Pew Internet and American Life Project to identify anddefine how e-patients are using the Internet to gather and share information. In 2009, Pew released agroundbreaking report, “The Social Life of Health Information,” which improved our understanding of whyand how e-patients are going online. 2
  • 3. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientPew found that 61% of American adults can be considered e-patients because they use the Internet to findhealth information. E-patients are not only looking for information for themselves. Pewʼs research indicatesthat half of all online health searches are on behalf of someone other than the searcher ― usually a closefriend or relative.E-patientsʼ online information gathering activities are h aving an impact. 67% of e-patients report that theydiscuss the results of their online health searches with others. In addition, although some have worriedthat inaccurate online information can be harmful to e-patients, the vast majority report that they werehelped rather than harmed by the content they found.Regarding social technologies, Pew found that the majority of e-patients are using these tools to gatherinformation developed by “regular” people. Pewʼs research indicates that: • 41% of e-patients have read another personʼs commentary about “health or medical issues on an online news group, Website or blog” • 24% have checked reviews or “rankings” of practitioners or health care providers • 24% have checked rankings of medical facilities or hospitals • 19% have enrolled to “receive news and updates about health or medical issues” • 13% have listened to “podcast[s] about health or medical issues”Are E-Patients Creating Content and is Social Media Having an Influence?Although e-patients are consuming health social media content, very few are creating it. For example,Pew found that only 5% of e-patients have posted content on a blog or reviewed a physician online.Pews resea rch also indicates that e-patients are consuming information posted on social sites. However,are their health and medical decisions being influenced by what they find? The data are mixed. Forexample, according to Pew, 60% of e-patients said health information obtained through Internet researchinfluences their decisions or actions. In addition, a study published in April 2009 by Ad-ology indicates thatnearly 40% of recent hospital and urgent care patients were influenced by social media.On the other hand, a study conducted by the research firm Manhattan Research indicates that very fewe-patients make health or medical decisions based on content they find published on Health 2.0, or socialmedia sites. 3
  • 4. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientHealth Organizations Board the Social Media Train in Droves, But Are They on Track?A few years ago, the health industry was largely skeptical of social media, despite that fact that companiesin the entertainment and technology industries were embracing social technologies. Today, although someremain doubtful about the benefits of these tools, a number of health organizations are using them. Somenotable examples include: • Government Agencies: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have used social media to educate the public on the H1N1 flu virus • Hospitals: According to Ed Bennett, 473 hospitals were using social networking tools as of November 27, 2009 • Pharmaceutical Companies: Despite significant regulatory and legal restrictions, a number of pharmaceutical companies have begun to use social networks (such as Facebook and Sermo) and other sites to deliver information to patients and physiciansGiven the growing importance of social media to e-patients, this activity is sure to increase in the weeksand months ahead. However, while enthusiasm about the communications and marketing potential ofsocial media is high, some health organizations are not asking critical questions about their plannedactivities. Two of the mos t important are: • How do e-patients feel about us communicating via social media? • What do they want from us? Do they want us simply “friend” them on Facebook or consistently deliver substantive and valuable information?It is important for health organizations to answer these questions while planning and implementinga social media initiative. Doing so will help them understand: • Whether their s ocial media marketing communications efforts are starting off in a position of strength or weakness • The types of content or interaction e-patients are most likely to find valuable and appropriateWe provide some answers to these questions below. 4
  • 5. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientIn late 2009, the Path of the Blue Eye Project commissioned a nationally (U.S.) representative onlinesurvey of 668 e-patients (margin of error +/- 3.1%) in order to determine: • How they feel about various types of health organizations communicating with them via new or social media technologies • What information and interaction they want from health organizations using social tools for marketing communications purposesThe results of this study are simultaneously Disadvantaged Drug Companiesintu itive and unexpected. For example, given the pharmaceutical industryʼs poor reputation, it Drug firms will have to work harder to gain e-patients’is not surprising that e-patients take a dim view trust when communicating with them via social media.of their social media communications activities.However, e-patients from certain communities of color (African Americans and Hispanics) are muchmore likely to welcome efforts by drug firms to communicate via new media technologies.Please note that throug hout this section of the report we use the terms “social media” and “new media” torefer to social technologies like wikis, blogs and social networks.E-Patient Perceptions of Health Organizations’ Social Media Communications EffortsOverall, 51% of e-patients view efforts by health non-profits or charities to communicate via social mediapositively. In addition, 49% applaud government agencies f or turning to new media tools to distributeinformation about health topics (see Figure 1).Numerous public opinion polls indicate that certain sectors of the health industry are not well-regarded.Large segments of the public distrust pharmaceutical companies and managed care providers. Giventhis, it is not surprising that e-patients are less likely to view efforts by these companies to communi catevia new media technologies positively. 5
  • 6. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientOnly 37% of e-patients think pharmaceutical companies are making the right move by engaging theirstakeholders using new media tools. Although they are unpopular with some segments of the public,health insurance providers fare better with e-patients. 41% would be likely to welcome social mediacommunications efforts led by managed care companies. Figure 1 E-patients that view efforts by certain types of health organizations to communicate via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) technologies positively (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Health non-profits or charities 51% Government agencies focused on health like the CDC 49% Local or neighborhood hospitals 45% Nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic 44% Health insurance providers 41% Pharmaceutical companies 37% 6
  • 7. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientThe picture changes when we look at perceptions of social media communications efforts by gender.Overall, women are more likely to view social media activities led by health organizations positively –except when it comes to pharmaceutical companies (see Figure 2). Figure 2 Male and female e-patients that view health organization efforts to communicate via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) technologies positively (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Health non-profits or charities 46% 56% Government agencies focused on health like the CDC 46% 52% Local or neighborhood hospitals 40% 49% Male Female Nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic 39% 48% Health insurance providers 39% 44% Pharmaceutical companies 38% 36% 7
  • 8. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientFor example: • 56% of women versus 46% of men have positive perceptions of social media initiatives led by health non-profits or charities • 48% of women versus 39% of men view new media communications efforts by nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic in a positive light • In contrast, slightly fewer women (36%) than men (38%) would welcome social media efforts conducted by pharmaceut ical companies What accounts for the disparity between how women and men perceive health-related new media communications efforts? One reason may be that female e-patients are more interested in usingnew media to build relationships with others and organizations than men (see below for more onthis topic).The Impact of Age and Race on PerceptionsAs was the case with gender, we found that age has an impact on perceptions of health organizationsocial media activity (see Table 1). 8
  • 9. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientFor example, in general, the younger the e-patient, the more positively they viewed social mediacommunications efforts. 57% of those between 18 and 24 said they were happy about health non-profitsusing social media to communicate (see Table 1). Figure 3 Black and Hispanic e-patients that view health organization efforts to communicate via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) technologies positively (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Black Hispanic Health non-profits or charities 54% 60% Government agencies focused on health like the CDC 55% 51% Local or neighborhood hospitals 45% 47% Nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic 44% 43% Health insurance providers 47% 47% Pharmaceutical companies 46% 44% 9
  • 10. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientOverall, African Americans and Hispanics felt very positively about health organization social mediacommunications efforts (see Figure 3). • 60% of Hispanic e-patients welcomed health non-profit new media activities • 55% of African Americans viewed government activity in social media positivelyExamining Perceptions of Social Media Activity by Pharmaceutical Firms Drug Companies FavoredIn recent years, consultants, p ublic healthexperts and others have called upon pharmaceutical African Americans, Hispanics and older e-patientscompanies to increase their use of social media are more likely to welcome pharmaceuticaltechnologies for marketing and communications industry involvement in social media.purposes. However, drug firms have beenhesitant because of uncertainty about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will regulate theseactivities. There are also questions about whether e-patients would welcome pharmaceutical industryinvolvement on new media sites.Clearly, a lot depends on how drug firms engage via social media. However, it appears that people incertain communities of color are more likely to view pharmaceutical industry social media communicationsactivities positively. Specifically, 46% of African Americans and 44% of Hispanics have this persp ective(see Figure 4).These data indicate that pharmaceutical companies may face fewer hurdles when attempting to reach outto these audiences via social media. Certain conditions like high blood pressure and HIV/AIDS are muchmore likely to impact Blacks and Hispanics. Pharmaceutical firms may want to increase their newmedia educational and marketing efforts in these areas in order to reach com munities of color.There is more good news for pharmaceutical companies when it comes to older e-patients (those 55 andolder). This group is especially important to drug firms because they are more likely to take medications fora range of chronic conditions. In addition, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that thisgroup of e-patients is actively using social media for health and wellness purposes.Our research indicates that older e-patients are much more likely to view pharmaceutical industryinvolvement in social media positively (see Figure 5). 10
  • 11. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-Patient Figure 4 E-patients that view pharmaceutical company efforts to communicate via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) technologies positively by race (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Total U.S. E-Patient Population 37% Black 46% Hispanic 44% 11
  • 12. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-Patient Figure 5 E-patients that view pharmaceutical company efforts to communicate via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) technologies positively by age group (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Total U.S. E-Patient Population 37% 18-24 35% 25-34 34% 35-44 37% 45-54 34% 55+ 42% 12
  • 13. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientE-Patients Want Information First, Friendship LastAlthough sites that enable interaction and friendship like Just the FactsFacebook and MySpace have steadily increased inpopularity, research indicates that people primarily go Most e-patients are not interested in socializingonline to find information. According to a study published with health organizations via new media.in 2009 by the Online Publishers Association, “Internet They prefer to receive news and information.users continue to spend the majority of their time withcontent sites.”In addition, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that the majority of e-patients use the Internetto find relevant health and medical information. Few engage directly with others on social networking sitesor blogs. 13
  • 14. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientGiven this, it is unsurprising that e-patients want information – not connections – with health organizationscommunicating with them using new media technologies. 59% of e-patients want news or informationabout medical conditions or diseases.Only 38% want to communicate directly with the staff of a health organization. In addition, a little overone-third would like organizations to help th em share information or news with people with a medicalcondition or disease (see Figure 6). Older e-patients are even less interested in socializing. 62% saythey prefer to receive news or information via social media (see Table 2). Figure 6 Types of information or interaction e-patients want from health organizations communicating via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 News or information about medical conditions or diseases 59% News or information about medical products, like drugs or surgical procedures 47% Communicate directly with health organization staff 38% Consult me for advice about new products or services 37% Help me share news or information with people with diseases or conditions 35% Help me share news or information with caregivers 33% I want health organizations to market to me via online advertisements 12% 14
  • 15. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientForging Connections: The Impact of Gender and Race on E-Patient PreferencesAlthough most e-patients do not want health organizations to facilitateconnections with others, people from communities of color and women aremuch more interested. For example: Women, Hispanics Want Connections • 37% of female e-patients would like health Health organizations will find success if they help organizations to facilitate connections between women and Hispanic e-patients forge connections them and people with or caring for someone with ill consumers via social media. with a medical condition (see Figure 7) • Hispanics are extremely interested in sharing information with others with an illness. 51% report that they want health organizations to help them engage in this activity (see Figure 8) Figure 7 Types of information or interaction male and female e-patients want from health organizations communicating via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 News or information about medical conditions or diseases 53% 64% News or information about medical products, like drugs or surgical procedures 44% 49% Communicate directly with health organization staff 35% 40% Male Female Consult me for advice about new products or services 34% 39% Help me share news or information with people with diseases or conditions 33% 37% Help me share news or information with caregivers 28% 37% I want health organizations to market to me via online advertisements 12% 13% 15
  • 16. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-Patient Figure 8 Types of information or interaction Black and Hispanic e-patients want from health organizations communicating via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Black Hispanic News or information about medical conditions or diseases 72% 59% News or information about medical products, like drugs or surgical procedures 56% 49% Communicate directly with health organization staff 40% 44% Consult me for advice about new products or services 38% 42% Help me share news or information with people with diseases or conditions 39% 51% Help me share news or information with caregivers 36% 38% I want health organizations to market to me via online advertisements 19% 15%Are Any E-Patients Interested in Direct Communication via New Media?Although most e-patients are not very interested incommunicating directly with health organizations, a few Young, Parents Open togroups are more open to it. For example, 41% of Two-Way Dialoguee-patient parents want to use new media for one-on-onecommunication with a health organization (see Figure 9). Health organizations seeking directIt is possible they believe these interactions will help engagement with e-patients may wantthem access valuable information for their children. to reach out to parents and the young.Younger e-patie nts are also more open to direct communication. For example, 42% of e-patients between25-34 would like to speak with health organization staff via new media. In contrast, only 32% of e-patients55 and older are interested in direct communication with health organizations (see Figure 10). 16
  • 17. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-Patient Figure 9 E-patients interested in communicating directly with health organization staff via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) by parental status (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Total U.S. E-Patient Population 38% Parents 41% Non-Parents 36%Conclusion: There is No Single Approach to Successful Social Media Communications;Multicultural Marketing is Not an OptionAs this study demonstrates, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful social mediacommunications. Health organizations must engage in careful study of their target audiences in order tounderstand the preferences of different demographic groups.In addition, this study reinforces the fact that multicultural communications is no longer an option for healthorganizations. People f rom communities of color are moving from the minority to majority population in anumber of cities across the country. 17
  • 18. Report 2: E-Patients | December 14, 2009 unNiche Widen Your Health Marketing Communications PerspectiveCommunicating with the Empowered E-PatientIn addition, research from Pew and other organizations reveals that they are more likely to use new mediatechnologies like mobile and social networks than whites. Our research demonstrates that healthorganizations from industry segments with reputation issues, or who seek to help facilitate connectionsbetween people, should seriously consider engaging in social media initiatives targeted toward AfricanAmerican and Hispan ic audiences. Figure 10 E-patients interested in communicating directly with health organization staff via new media (blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) by age group (% of respondents) Source: The Path of the Blue Eye Project ©2009 Total U.S. E-Patient Population 38% 18-24 43% 25-34 42% 35-44 39% 45-54 38% 55+ 32% Get More Insight Learn, communicate and collaborate at Living the Path, our online community for health marketing communciations pros. A Path of the Blue Eye Project Publication http://community.pathoftheblueeye.com www.pathoftheblueeye.com 18

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