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Understanding doctors’ digital needs and behaviour

It’s essential to remember that not all physicians are the same

There is no doubt that doctors have fully embraced the digital world – over 40,000 doctors engage with Doctors.net.uk each day – that's over 25% of all UK doctors using the same website in a single day. 

To capitalise on the enormous potential to engage with doctors online, pharma companies must understand doctors' needs and digital behaviours, and ensure they are providing the right content in the right format, 

One simple but essential maxim to remember is that not all physicians are the same. Their online information and communication needs differ greatly according to specialty, age and nationality.

For example, at Doctors.net.uk we know that:

• Oncologists are more likely to download medical apps when compared to haematologists (71% vs 51%)

• Haematologists use the internet much more frequently to read clinical papers than psychiatrists (40% vs 8% use the Internet at least twice a day to read a clinical paper)

• Rheumatologists are half as likely to visit pharma operated websites in a typical month compared to Haematologists (14% vs 30%)

Data from our partners in the Networks in Health Alliance of Physician networks - which covers more than two million physicians worldwide through its online community networks, shows considerable variation in physician attitudes and behaviour across Europe. Pharmaceutical representatives are most likely to be trusted by doctors in Spain and least likely to be trusted by them in the UK, Sweden and Germany, where use of the internet and membership of independent online communities is more advanced and important to physicians. Doctors in France use the internet less than doctors in other major European markets but this picture is changing. 

Online professional communities provide a most effective method of building long-term, meaningful relationships with an audience, since they offer a wide range of opportunities and unique insights into physicians' thinking and behaviour.

In a world where so much information is available, doctors are seeking the security of the authenticated online community. As a result, these communities are becoming the communications channel of choice for pharma companies and other organisations wishing to reach medical professionals.

By Simon Grime, Managing Director of Communications for Doctors.net.uk - the UK's largest and most active network of medical professionals

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on twitter: @doctors_net_uk

7th August 2012

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