Pharmaceutical brands fail to react to patient websites

Healthcare and pharmaceutical brands are failing to embrace digital promotion and marketing, despite the rising popularity of patient websites set up by individuals and groups outside the industry, according to the findings of a survey by Millward Brown.

The report, which surveyed GPs across the UK, highlighted that healthcare and pharmaceutical brands were failing to respond to the growing numbers of user-generated websites, many of which reported negatively on patient care and prescription drugs.

Fergus Hampton, chief executive of Millward Brown Precis, said that with more patient websites appearing every day, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies needed to realise the word-of-mouth value that blogs and online patient-support groups bring. 'Healthcare and pharmaceutical brands need to listen and measure what is being said about their brands offline and online. Even though more than 80% of word of mouth still happens offline, when it's online, it's magnified.'

The report showed that the sectors were poor when it came to exploiting digital marketing despite the fact that GPs are receptive to engaging via the channel as they spend more time than they used to working online, turning to blogs, social networking sites and websites for information and advice.

About 97% of the GPs questioned said they use the internet at least once a day and for an average of 12 hours every week.

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