Analysis: How Online Behavior Of Doctors Has Evolved In The Last 5 Years

Digital technology has changed the way HCPs consume information and collaborate with each other. With quick access to credible online resources and continuous digital connect with fellow practitioners, doctors today are better informed, and therefore, better positioned to treat patients.

Doctors’ adoption of digital has also opened up a fresh avenue for Pharma to touch base with them. HCP-specific websites and apps are at the top of every brand manager’s marketing plan and multi-channel marketing, a favorite buzzword.

Considering how essential digital connect has become, studying doctors’ online behavior and needs is paramount for Pharma. When Docplexus set out to build an online network of doctors in 2013, we conducted studies to understand openness of doctors towards digital channel and their needs from such platforms. Five years on, we ran another study (a nationwide poll on 15,600 physicians across specialties) to assess whether and how doctors’ relationship with online media has evolved. Following are our findings:

Infographic-OnlineBehaviourofDoctors-V3 without HF

Key Trends

Digital: the “New Normal” for Doctors

Five years ago, digital was predicted to be the future, and rightly so. Today, digital connectedness is indispensable to doctors. While 69% HCPs go online for medical information at least twice a day, 40% do so more than three times. Doctors are also spending twice the time online today than in 2013. Average time spent by doctors on Docplexus has risen from 0-5 minutes in 2013 to 5-10 minutes today.

Better internet connectivity & speed, smartphone penetration, and the presence of trustworthy digital spaces are key reasons for this change. A noteworthy trend is a widespread shift to online channel in smaller places. 30% of all Docplexus users are from tier III towns today.

Online Media Accepted as a Credible Source of Knowledge & Information

Most doctors favor digital ‘one-stop shops’ – places that provide latest, most authentic updates on things that matter, along with a meaningful connect with peers and KOLs.

24×7 access to authentic & real-time updates from anywhere make digital media go-to places for doctors to stay informed in their field of practice. A whopping 97% of doctors said that latest information about medicines is easily available online today. 70% HCPs trust Online CMEs today as opposed to 30% five years ago. Online learning has removed geographical barriers and reduced learning time drastically. Physicians no longer need to attend seminars and conferences. They also get to connect with KOLs from every therapy area, who now want to make their presence felt on online communities. These thought-leaders are widely choosing webinars and online commentaries to share their expertise with an inter-disciplinary audience.

Videos Continue to be the Best-Suited Content Format

84% doctors choose videos as the best-suited format for content, a rise from 60% in 2013. It is proven that the human brain processes video content 60,000 times faster than text. Visual appeal and easy-to-grasp nature of video content have made it doctor’s top format for digital information.

Text-based content is still relevant but only if it is crisp and to-the-point. 81% of online medical content is consumed on mobile, while the rest on laptops or desktops and therefore doctors’ prefer medical write-ups to be restricted to 2-3 scrolls.

Pharma Communications More Engaging Through Digital Channel

Digital push in marketing has aided pharma’s communication shift from ‘’product pitches’’ to ‘’value-added engagement’’, a move welcomed by doctors. 71% doctors agreed that online media allow them the comfort to interact with pharma at their preferred time without keeping their patients waiting during busy clinic hours.  Pharma can easily implement Beyond the Pill initiatives digitally, adding value to doctors’ practice and improving patient outcomes.

It is evident that doctors have whole-heartedly accepted digital channel and its potential to unite various healthcare stakeholders to improve medical outcomes. The coming years will witness the ‘’coming of age’’ of Doctor-specific Online Media.

What the Future Beholds

Niche, Highly-exclusive Doctor Communities Will Rise

77% of doctors asserted that closed groups of members from a specific therapy area will boost relevant interactions and knowledge sharing. Such niche groups would produce the brightest ideas, innovate protocols of treatment and initiate pathbreaking research. Many doctors expressed pride in being part of a growing online tribe that not only brings value to individual practice but also to the medical community as a whole.

Trust & Content Neutrality will Assume Utmost Importance

‘With rising concerns around data breach, doctors will continue to put their faith in secure online spaces where a fool-proof system to verify authentic users is firmly in place. Amidst the deafening ”digital noise” which will only increase in coming times, only the most reliable, unbiased and value-driven content will survive.

Phygital Approach Would Seal the Deal for Pharma Marketers

While digital appears to be the future, physical interactions will continue to be valid. In fact, a seamless cross channel experience, where MRs are but one element of a broader cross-channel engagement, is what marketers should aim for.  In a Docplexus Survey, 68% doctors opined that Physicial + Digital approach can improve the relationship between physicians and pharma.

About Docplexus

With over 350,000+ doctors belonging to 94 specialties of modern medicine, Docplexus is a global online community of doctors. HCPs trust our fool-proof verification process and are assured of connecting with genuine practitioners for dialogue and interdisciplinary learning, all ultimately leading to better medical outcomes. Developed by a team of experts, our platform is compatible with the desktop as well as the mobile. Every day, over 20,000 doctors log on to Docplexus to avail our range of services.


Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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