Doctors and digital devices: India bridging the gap

Doctors in India are now narrowing the technology usage gap with their US peers with six out of 10 healthcare professionals (HCPs) engaging with patients digitally as against nine out of 10 in the US. According to a global survey conducted by healthcare solutions company, Indegene, doctors in India are using a mix of channels such as video calls, apps, emails, text messages, etc. for both patient interaction and meeting medical representatives. This is a paradigm shift from the earlier face-to-face interactions considered to be the only channel to meet the doctor. This trend has an evident bearing on accountability and costs as already witnessed in the US healthcare market.

According to Dr. M.S. Dhillon, head of orthopaedics, PGI Chandigarh, “Our endeavour is to treat more and more patients and improve their health status. Technology enabled channels, be it internet or mobile, help us get information on new drugs, emerging treatment protocols, etc. It helps us do our job more efficiently and yet keep ourselves abreast of global changes in the world of medicine.”

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Healthcare professionals in India increasingly choose digital channels of interaction.

Doctors also named Abbott as the leading company making use of technology to provide global medical updates. Abbott’s Knowledge Genie, a portal for doctors, is a one-stop online repository for scientific education of healthcare professionals, also accessible through an android and iOS mobile app.

Bhasker Iyer, vice president, Abbott India, said, “Abbott’s no.1 ranking in the HCPs’ perception score for digital engagement in India, demonstrates the salience of our initiatives such as Knowledge Genie to further scientific education in interesting, user-friendly formats. Keen, actionable insights from our field teams have enabled us to adopt different digital channels for communication towards healthcare professionals in a clutter-breaking way.”

Indegene’s 2015 digital savvy HCP survey also revealed that doctors in the US have moved away from a pure face to face interaction model to virtualization given the Obamacare and Compliance to ethical marketing imperatives. In China, the pressure of hospital population has pushed doctors to use their smartphone for maximum interactions. Additionally, stronger internet penetration, speed and competitive smartphone prices have also helped doctors in China choose smartphones as the most preferred device.

According to Gaurav Kapoor, EVP, emerging markets and product strategy, Indegene, “Doctors just don’t have the time for face to face meetings other than those for their patients. Tremendous focus on delivering better health outcomes leaves very little time to spend with pharma reps. In addition, physician access has changed and doctors expect a better digital experience.”

Doctors also prefer specific time slots for information updates through various channels. While doctors in India access information through digital channels between 2:00pm and 5:00pm, morning and early noon hours are preferred by doctors in the US (11:00am to 2:00pm). Apps usage amongst all channels was high amongst doctors in the US and Japan.

Indegene’s worldwide digital HCP survey was conducted on a sample of 1600 plus doctors across USA, India, China, Japan and the rest of Asia. Of the surveyed doctors, 85% were in the 10-years plus experience bracket and 67% were domain specialists.

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