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Combining doctor and patient perspectives – an insight from Turkey

Listening to what patients, as well as doctors, have to say can bring some illuminating health insights

The Doktorsitesi.com service in Turkey is significantly different from many other online communities in that it is a doctor-to-patient community, rather than a doctor-to-doctor one, and allows patients to post questions about therapy areas and health issues for doctors to answer.

In addition to being able to search a health database of nearly one million answered questions, patients can also search for doctors and share their stories with other patients. This gives a unique perspective. 

It's also one that, five years after launch, has seen Doktorsitesi.com become the largest health portal in Turkey, attracting around 100,000 unique visits each day and growing at a rate of more than 50,000 new patient registrations per month. 

This allows industry to find out what both doctors and patients think about their brands and services, comparing and contrasting viewpoints from the two segments. No-one would expect doctors and patients to think alike about medicines, but this approach shows where they might agree or disagree. For companies developing their brand messages, for example, this provides a very effective way to really sharpen the targeting of their messages. 

Turkey has a strikingly engaged population of doctors. Sixty per cent of online doctors in our country will access the internet between patient consultations, and research shows they most often do so to access drug and health resources. However, in our experience there is a divide between primary and secondary care here, with specialists more likely to look online for information, given their propensity to more closely research their particular areas.

But whether in primary or secondary care, one of the main areas in which we can help industry is with market research about gaps in therapy area knowledge, particularly as the kinds of questions we pose to our communities are about products and doctors' approaches to them.

Turkey is probably some five years behind where the US, say, is now in terms of pharma becoming fully engaged in communications via online networks, but as with everything in digital the rate of change we are seeing is exponential. 

Pharma already knows it can't control social media, but there's still a lot of talk about whether pharma companies are prepared to release control of online content, something that might take the form of facilitating doctors' comments on drugs or firms. Some pharma companies have tried to take steps towards this by setting up their own communities, but the ones that I see seem to be failing, which isn't a big surprise given the easy availability of popular independent alternatives that exist. So, while these are early days in Turkey for pharma and digital, attitudes are changing rapidly and we have high hopes for the future.

Erden Asena, founder & CEO of Turkey's primary online healthcare community, Doktorsitesi.com, which is one of Networks in Health's partners

Doktorsitesi.com is Turkey's primary online healthcare community with a membership of 15,000+ doctors and 1,500,000+ patients. Doktorsitesi.com is a member of Networks in Health - the unique global alliance of trusted online physician networks.  For more information on Networks in Health, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@networksinhealth.com. You can also follow Networks in Health on twitter: @netwrksinhealth

10th July 2013

From: Healthcare

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