Whether it’s a routine checkup or an appointment with a specialist that is months in the making, a visit to the doctor is inherently stressful. There is no question that health is a priority for Americans, but there are several factors lately that make it harder to put health first. Those factors, such as cost, access to care, lack of information, language barriers, health insurance and more, are causing patients to be overcome with anxiety ahead of appointments, failing to give their healthcare providers the full picture regarding their health and even choosing between necessities and prescription medications.
With so many barriers to care for patients, pharma marketers can play a significant role in ensuring patients have the information they need to act regarding their health and receive the care and treatment they deserve.
The Price of Good Health
The cost of everything is increasing, including healthcare—and that’s a problem. According to the 2023 PatientPoint Patient Confidence Index, 66% of survey respondents said “I’m concerned I won’t be able to afford the treatment/medication” when asked why they are afraid to ask their healthcare provider (HCP) about their health condition/symptoms.
The report, conducted by market research company OnePoll on behalf of PatientPoint, asked 2,000 Americans about their wants, needs and feelings at the doctor’s office, and revealed that 52% of respondents may put off seeing their HCP due to “concern about not being able to afford treatments.” Digging deeper into that question of “to eat or to treat,” respondents were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: Inflation is making me choose between paying for my prescriptions and other necessities. More than half (52%) somewhat agreed or strongly agreed, reporting that they chose to pay for the following instead of medication:
- Education costs (56%)
- Groceries (55%)
- Gas/car maintenance (53%)
- Childcare costs (48%)
- Rent/mortgage payments (36%)
- Utility bills (25%)
The decision to pay for other necessities instead of prescriptions isn’t necessarily a “choice.” But as we know, even when able to fill their prescription, many patients don’t, or fail to fully follow-through with their medication protocol. The survey found one solve for the latter: When asked, “What, if anything, would make you feel empowered to follow through with your prescribed treatment?,” 59% of respondents said, “Knowing how the treatment works to help my condition,” while 54% said “Knowing why the treatment is important for my condition.”
Providing the right information at the right time is truly a powerful influence on patient action. Regarding the exam room specifically, 43% of patients reported the desire for prompts on how and what to talk to their doctor about—a significant opportunity for brands to insert their message into the moment treatment decisions are being made.
Filling the Information Gap
Beyond getting patients to get on, and stay on therapy, providing relevant information across a patient's healthcare journey has the power to transform their care experience. Nearly half of survey respondents reported they didn't have enough information or education to help them prepare for their visit and discussion with the doctor; 36% said they didn't have enough information about their condition/symptoms; more than half leave their appointment confused and nearly 75% said they have left the doctor's office realizing they forgot to bring up something related to their condition or symptoms.
Pharma can empower patients with the information they need when they are most actively thinking about their health, at the doctor's office. As a result—as the survey revealed—patients will experience a more satisfactory visit, have more effective conversations with their doctor and, ultimately, make better decisions about their health.
After all, knowledge is power—and empowerment.
Learn more about patients’ wants, needs and feelings toward visits to the doctor’s office by downloading the 2023 PatientPoint Patient Confidence Index.