Who do you trust? For doctors, it's Bristol-Myers Squibb and Biogen

When it comes to pharma partners, doctors prefer quality digital content. While that makes sense, new research shows that it also fosters trust with U.S. physicians.

For the first time, DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research queried doctors about which pharma companies they trust in its annual Taking the Pulse survey. They asked a range of questions about those that have quality content, empathy for healthcare providers and a patients-first motivation. However, it was credible scientific content and nonpromotional value adds from pharma that showed the strongest correlation to trust.

And the three drugmakers who ranked as most trusted were Bristol-Myers Squibb, Biogen and Celgene, in that order, among physicians who had digital interactions with them. Not coincidentally, doctors also praised those companies for their strong, relevant online content. 

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For instance, for top-ranker BMS, 91% of the physicians who had recent interactions with the pharma online agreed it was a trusted partner, while 82% further agreed that it “provides the most up-to-date information and services online.” Biogen was named by 90% of physicians as trusted and 82% noted its valuable content. Celgene, in third place, was trusted by 82% of doctors, with another 77% agreeing that its information was most up-to-date. 

The trust questions were new additions to this year's study, which is now in its 16th year.

“Companies that refresh their digital properties with current digital content seem to be more trusted,” said Matthew Arnold, principal analyst at DRG Digital. “…It may be kind of a dull finding, but if you’re not refreshing your content online, if you’re not adding value to the physician relationship, you’re actually damaging the trust they have in you.”

Heather Figlar, director of U.S. physician research at DRG Digital, added, “Given just how bombarded physicans are and how overworked they are, if you’re going to have a portal up and running, you want to make sure you have refreshed content. Even though it seems like an obvious idea for a good relationship, not all (pharma) companies are doing it.”

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Along with the importance of keeping up to date, DRG also found that physicians are overwhelmed by emails and advertising and are beginning to opt out of both. Two in five doctors have opted out of professional emails in the past six months, the study found.

But those moves can also be traced back to quality content. Pharma companies that provided consistently relevant content and partnered with trusted third-party publishers avoid getting blocked or spurring unsubscribes.

“Nearly two-thirds said they are most encouraged to open emails if they are from a trusted source, and half pay more attention to prescription drug ads on websites they trust,” he said.