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Docs outweigh smart device research for Rx intel, but mobile is mecca for savvy shoppers

BY Michael Johnsen

Smart device usage has become an active part of in-store shopping. According to a recent poll of Accent-Health smart device owners, nearly 3-out-of-5 have used their phone or tablet to aid in product selection while shopping in-store. However, consumers are more likely to research their next TV on their mobile device than their prescription medication. According to AccentHealth VP market research, Natalie Hill, "When it comes to medical treatment, healthcare professionals remain the most trusted source for information. Of those viewers using smart devices in-store, only 16% report doing so to investigate Rxs or OTCs." Consumers using mobile devices in-store are most often in search of savings, with the majority (91%) comparing prices online or at other stores while shopping.

As retailers strengthen mobile strategies, it is not surprising to find that half of consumers surveyed own a retailer app. Of those, more than three-quarters report having an app for a pharmacy or a mass merchandiser with pharmacy.

Mobile apps are doing much more than just displaying products for sale. While app features vary by retailer, 71% of respondents indicate they use their apps to receive discounts/coupons; store locator searches, shopping, and loyalty card/rewards access follow as the next most commonly used features. Given the investment retailers are making in app development and benefits to the purchasing process, it is not surprising that app usage is reported to increase in the future.

Among non-users of retailer apps, nearly half indicate they would be likely to download an app in the future. Among users, three-quarters report they are likely to increase their frequency of use or use new features. Cost-savings seekers will continue to fuel app usage; however, significant interest in less commonly used tools — such as live expert chatting, barcode scanning and Rx management — are expected to contribute to growth in app use.

Patient Views is a consumer insights feature that appears in every edition of DSN magazine, as well as in the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M.

For the latest Patient Views, click here.

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Telehealth could supplement self-diagnosis as more young people go online for health information

BY Alaric DeArment

The number of Americans who want technology to play a role in their healthcare is growing, as up to 64% of Americans use online health resources, and 40% use them to self-diagnose, according to a new survey conducted by the Atlantic and GlaxoSmithKline. Yet while 94% of those using online resources consider them important to their health, only 12% report contacting doctors via email or text message regarding a health question.

The Atlantic-GSK survey and others indicate that the group favoring online health information tends to skew younger.

According to a Pew telephone survey of 3,014 adults conducted between August and September 2012 and released in January, 47% of those aged 18 to 29 had looked online to diagnose a condition, compared with 43% of respondents aged 30-49, 29% of those aged 50-64 and 13% of those aged 65 and older. Overall, the survey found that 59% had looked online for health information in the past year, and 35% were "online diagnosers," meaning they had used the internet to figure out what condition they or another might have.

Meanwhile a study released Friday by Research2guidance found that the market for mobile health apps will reach $26 billion by 2017. 

At the same time, the percentage of those in the youngest cohort who had followed up with a medical professional was the same as those in the oldest (47%) compared with 55% of those in the 30-49 cohort and 58% of those in the 50-64 cohort. Nevertheless, doctors remained a primary source of information and support during serious health episodes, with 70% of respondents getting information, care and support from medical professionals.

This is where programs like Rite Aid’s recently expanded NowClinic can be useful. According to the Atlantic-GSK study, younger people tend to place greater emphasis on removing face-to-face interaction with healthcare professionals. While NowClinic relies on a webcam connection – i.e. face-to-face interaction – it allows for remote consultation between the doctor and patient.

A 2011 study in Australia indicated that when it came to sexual health services, 85% of people aged 16 to 24 would prefer meeting a doctor in person, while 63% would prefer a telephone consultation and 29% would prefer a consultation via webcam. Use of webcams for consultations was favored more among men, respondents with same-sex partners and those with more than three sexual partners in the previous year. Concerns about the possiblity of consultations being recorded, saved and potentially searchable online were the main objections to webcam consultations. But the study concluded that despite the small number of respondents who would prefer consultations via webcam, they could benefit youth who would otherwise lack access to sexual health services, and they might be more palatable if they included guarantees of privacy.

As any doctor will say, it’s unwise to try and self-diagnose, at least without consulting a qualified professional. Some news media have reported on "cyberchondria," in which patients go to doctors for an imaginary illness because they’re convinced that a symptom such as a rash or cough is evidence of a serious illness, as well as doctors’ frustration with it.

But it would be equally unwise to ignore the growing number of people who seek medical information online to try and figure out what’s wrong with them. After all, according to the Pew study, 53% of online diagnosers had discussed what they found online with clinicians, and 41% had their self-diagnoses confirmed, but 35% had not visited a clinician to get a professional opinion.

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Walmart offers market for women-owned businesses with new website

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Empowering Women Together, an online destination on Walmart.com, gives shoppers who want to buy unique and interesting products the opportunity to do so while supporting small women-owned businesses around the world, the retailer announced. At launch, Empowering Women Together will offer shoppers more than 200 items from 19 businesses in nine countries.

"Empowering Women Together is a simple concept; it connects shoppers in the United States with quality products made by women-owned businesses around the world," said Andrea Thomas, SVP Walmart. "And in doing that, it helps achieve so much more. Through Walmart’s Empowering Women Together, customers can help these suppliers increase their incomes, better their lives and create new jobs for others, and Walmart can help these suppliers gain experience with buying trends, scaling, product development and acumen they need to build their businesses."

Empowering Women Together will be part of Store for Good, a developing Walmart.com program dedicated to connecting consumers with products that do good for other people, for themselves, or for our environment. The initiative will grow and potentially include eco-friendly products and healthier food options.

Empowering Women Together is also dedicated to helping U.S.-based women-owned businesses grow and expand their distribution. Nine of the initial 19 Empowering Women Together businesses are U.S. based.

The inaugural Empowering Women Together collection includes jewelry from Peru, Rwanda, Kenya and the United States; home accessories from Rwanda and Haiti; paper mache from Haiti, apparel and accessories from Rwanda; iPad and laptop cases from Cambodia and Nepal; coffee and tea sets sourced globally and made in America; and specialty foods made in America and Canada. The full collection can be viewed online at http://www.walmart.com/empoweringwomentogether.

 

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