Alfred O'Neill
Alfred O'Neill 11 April 2016

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 delves into the latest trends of on-line behaviour 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 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 becoming a core aspect of every true marketer's job -- it 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.  

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