Prime time for reaching smartphone users? When they're waiting on a doc

Patients often learn about pharma products during their doctors' appointments--but what about before those appointments? New research shows that many smartphone users spend their waiting-room time looking for healthcare information, which could offer marketers a prime opportunity to get their messages across.

According to a recent study from CDMiConnect, one in 5 Americans uses a mobile device in the waiting room to search for healthcare info. And patients bring that info into their appointments with them, giving drugmakers "an opportunity to contribute to doctor-patient discussions" if they can get relevant and accessible content in front of their audience during that window.

"I saw a commercial for a medication a week prior and had looked it up. But I realized I forgot the exact name. In the waiting room I was like 'Oh, we need to talk about this,'" one study participant said. "I typed in the name as close as possible and was able to find it. I asked the doctor about it and told him it sounded like something new I could try."

It's not just the under-30 crowd that uses its phone to answer in-office health questions, either. In a survey of 3,000 Americans age 18 and older, CDMiConnect found that 26% of people between the ages of 30 and 49 reported using a mobile device in the waiting room to scout out health info. And as the number of device users rises, the report's authors expect the number of pre-appointment info-seekers to grow.

It doesn't stop there. CDMiConnect found that waiting-room content consumers are also content creators when it comes to social media, registering twice as likely to share health content with their networks.

"There's a good chance they will share whatever they learn or experience," the authors said.

So, a little bit of well-positioned marketing can go a long way with smartphone users--and their social media connections--although exactly which way remains to be seen.

"How the doctor-patient relationship will continue to evolve around this enduring presence remains to be seen," the report's authors noted. "But one thing we're already seeing is that technology is changing how patients think and what they do during their appointments."

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