This article is part of a series of stories exploring “Business Trends and Communications Strategies in the Pharmaceutical 3PL Market.”
The healthcare system is witnessing a significant shift in the way physicians interact with patients. Many patients today consider healthcare consumption as a consumer product and apply similar behavior to selecting a new doctor as they do to purchasing a new television or other consumer good.
The traditional relationship between physicians and patients has evolved into a patient-centric model geared toward greater patient satisfaction with implications for the logistics industry.
A WORLD OF HEALTHCARE INFORMATION
An estimated seven percent of Google’s daily searches are health-related, according to Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD from a report in a health IT newsletter. Total health-related searches on Google amount to 14 billion each year.
Patient knowledge today is far greater than it was in the past. The internet/social media has allowed patients to educate themselves in the healthcare field. The abundance of knowledge found on the internet is helping patients conduct research and find answers to their healthcare problems on their own. Patients are taking charge of their own health by searching online resources for answers about health concerns or issues.
Armed with this material, informed consumers desire a dialog with their physicians to discuss their findings. This new development shifts the dynamic between doctors and patients.
DOCTOR AS RULER
The traditional treatment model that companies abide by doesn’t necessarily value the customer’s perspective. Physicians historically play the role of an authoritative figure with the final say on how and where a patient is treated. Patients have had little influence in how medicine is practiced. Before the internet, there was simply not enough accessible information for patients to develop enough knowledge pertaining to making their own healthcare decisions.
DOCTOR AS GUIDE
Empowering patients to express their knowledge and be involved in the decision- making process gives them a level of ownership when it comes to their healthcare. Now, a quick internet search can provide the patient with a considerable number of results. Based on the symptoms the patient is experiencing, sites such as WebMD and other medical databases help self diagnose and guide the patient in the right direction.
For example, patients used to rely on referrals from other physicians to find new doctors. They can see physician ratings and reviews to make the decision easier. Another popular feature that helps people find what they need is patient testimonials. The best way to evaluate professionals is by shared customer experiences and anecdotes. Doctors and patients discuss a treatment plan that is a result of a joint effort based on two-way conversation and evaluation. Physicians who used to tell the patient about necessary care now explain treatment options to the patient and involve them in the process.
PATIENT-CENTRIC HEALTHCARE AND PHARMACEUTICAL LOGISTICS
As consumers become more comfortable navigating and relying on the internet, they are more accepting of ordering and purchasing medications and related products online.
“WDSrx makes significant investments in upgrading our technologies to facilitate ecommerce transactions,” states Rob Gerstein, Vice President of Woodfield Distribution, LLC . “Constant technological upgrades are done to keep up with new healthcare services found exclusively online. This new distribution channel may expand in future to include direct-to-patient orders for devices, health and wellness products.”
More informed consumers provide another potential source of business growth for pharmaceutical logistics services providers that also serve animal health and dietary supplement industries.
Demanding consumers expect premium brands of pet food and dietary supplements they purchase to store and ship their orders from warehouses complying with strict requirements for handling pharmaceutical products. Consumers communicating their expectations to their preferred brands support increased business with pharmaceutical logistics services providers.
The Coronavirus pandemic saw hospitals and doctor’s offices hit overcapacity. People turned to the internet to answer health-related questions and give self diagnosis. This type of behavior has been going on long before the outbreak of the virus, however, COVID-19 has accelerated the number of people seeking online answers to healthcare questions.
As technology advances, people are given more reasons why they shouldn’t have to see a doctor. There is an opportunity for companies to learn from the effects of the pandemic and what it means to the healthcare industry moving forward.
Vast amounts of knowledge dispersed throughout the web have led to increased patient knowledge and the formation of a new relationship model. The patient-centric dynamic focuses on informed patients having increased input with medical professionals about their treatment options and the consequences for the healthcare supply chain.
For further information about logistics implications for patient-centric behevior contact Larry Hotz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-998-3885 x304.