Doctors reliance on pharmas increasing, while general public trusts supermarkets more. What’s wrong with this picture?

andibreit / Pixabay

The News:

When it comes to pharma partners, doctors prefer quality digital content, according to a new report. While that comes as no surprise and makes sense, new research shows that it also fosters trust with US physicians.

For the first time, DRG Digital’s Manhattan Research queried doctors about which pharma companies they trust in its annual “Taking the Pulse” survey, FiercePharma reports. They asked a range of questions about those that have quality content, empathy for healthcare providers and a patients-first motivation. However, it was credible scientific content and nonpromotional value adds from pharma that showed the strongest correlation to trust.

And the three drugmakers who ranked as most trusted were Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYC), Biogen Inc. (Cambridge MA) and Celgene Corp. (Summit NJ), in that order, among physicians who had digital interactions with them. Not coincidentally, doctors also praised those companies for their strong, relevant online content.

For instance, for Bristol-Myers, 91% of the physicians who had recent interactions with the pharma online agreed it was a trusted partner, while 82% further agreed that it “provides the most up-to-date information and services online.” Biogen was named by 90% of physicians as trusted and 82% noted its valuable content. Celgene, in third place, was trusted by 82% of doctors, with another 77% agreeing that its information was most up-to-date.

The trust questions were new additions to this year’s study, which is now in its 16th year.

“Companies that refresh their digital properties with current digital content seem to be more trusted,” said Matthew Arnold, principal analyst at DRG Digital. “It may be kind of a dull finding, but if you’re not refreshing your content online, if you’re not adding value to the physician relationship, you’re actually damaging the trust they have in you.”

Heather Figlar, director of US physician research at DRG Digital, added, “Given just how bombarded physicians are and how overworked they are, if you’re going to have a portal up and running, you want to make sure you have refreshed content. Even though it seems like an obvious idea for a good relationship, not all (pharma) companies are doing it.”

Pharma companies that provided consistently relevant content and partnered with trusted third-party publishers avoid getting blocked or spurring unsubscribes.

“Nearly two-thirds said they are most encouraged to open emails if they are from a trusted source, and half pay more attention to prescription drug ads on websites they trust,” Arnold said.

Steve’s Take:

Ever read the title of an article and say to yourself, “I must’ve gotten that wrong?” Then you find out you got it right?

Here’s one that, after reading the above article on how doctors reliance on pharmas for trustworthy information about drugs is on the rise, gave me what I call “reader’s whiplash.” The article’s title was, “Public trusts supermarkets more than pharma.” It was published by Pharmaphorum.

A new poll has revealed that the public trusts supermarkets more than pharmaceutical companies–and while governments were the least trusted organizations in the survey, the results are and should be disappointing for an industry where reputation is paramount.

The survey by Ipsos/MORI was commissioned by Roche Holding AG (Basel CHE), as part of an event in London that discussed the issue of public trust in pharma companies, as well as governments, healthcare systems, and the corporate world in general. Results showed that just 48% of more than 18,000 people across 23 countries think that pharmaceutical companies will treat them fairly.

It’s a poor result compared with supermarkets, which came out top in the survey, with a 69% trust rating. According to the survey, pharma is in the middle of the pack with broadband and cable service companies but outperformed national governments (36%) and foreign governments (29%) in trustworthiness.

Pharma also fared worse among those with personal experience, with 12% saying the experience was better than expected and 17% saying it was worse than expected. Supermarkets were more likely to exceed expectations, with 18% saying that they had exceeded expectations, and 13% saying they were disappointed.

And results are disappointing compared with a similar survey by Edelman 10 years ago–in that 55% of people in the developed world, and 70% of people in the developing world trusted pharma.

Bottom Line:

PatientView’s report–“Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2017, the Patient Perspective”–is based on the findings of a November 2017-February 2018 survey exploring the views of 1,330 patient groups worldwide. The report provides feedback (from the perspective of these patient groups) on the corporate reputation of the pharma industry during 2017, as well as on the performance of 46 pharma companies at 12 key indicators that influence corporate reputation.

The Corporate-Reputation survey is now in its 7th edition, so the stockpile of data is becoming more susceptible to drawing valid conclusions. In addition, PatientView integrated several, important new indicators of corporate reputation into the 2017 survey to reflect the changing, and more demanding, relationships that now exist between patient groups and pharma companies.

How did PHARMA perform?

In 2017, patient-group attitudes towards pharma improved, after plummeting in 2016:

  • 43% of respondent patient groups thought that the pharma industry had an “Excellent” or “Good” corporate reputation in 2017–against 38% of patient groups saying the same in 2016.
  • In 2017, respondent patient groups ranked the pharma industry 3rd overall for corporate reputation out of 9 healthcare-industry sectors, the other sectors being: biotech; generic-drugs industry; health insurers (for-profit, and not-for-profit); medical-device industry; private-sector healthcare; and retail pharmacy. In 2016, patient groups ranked the pharmaceutical industry just 5th out of 9 healthcare sectors.

PHARMA also improved in essential activities:

  • 2017’s patient groups rated pharma as improving its performance over 2016 at three areas of activity important to patients and patient groups:
  1. Patient centeredness (35% of the patient groups stated that the industry was “Excellent” or “Good” at this activity, compared with just 26% in 2016);
  2. Integrity (31% described the industry as “Excellent” or “Good” at this activity, compared with just 28% in 2016); and
  3. In services provided “beyond the pill” (27% thought the industry “Excellent” or “Good” at this, compared with just 20% in 2016).

On the other hand…

  • Respondent patient groups were far more negative in 2017 than in 2016 about several other pharma-industry activities. For instance, only 48% of 2017’s respondent patient groups judged pharma “Excellent” or “Good” at being innovative (down from 59% in 2016; which, in turn, was down from 69% in 2015). The 2017 figure is the lowest-reported percentage for the pharma industry’s capacity to innovate since 2011 (when PatientView’s Corporate-Reputation surveys began).
  • Equally negative were 2017 attitudes towards the industry’s ability to make high-quality products. Only 57% of respondent patient groups in 2017 saw pharma as “Excellent” or “Good” at making high-quality products (down from 64% in 2016–which was also down from 72% in 2015).

Again, the 2017 figure is the lowest-reported percentage for pharma and high-quality products since 2011.

Steve's Take: We deserve better when supermarkets are #trusted more than our #pharmaceutical companies Click To Tweet

I don’t know about you, but with supermarkets commanding a 69% public trust rating and pharma rated way back in the middle of the pack with broadband and cable service companies, shouldn’t we expect improvement? Barely outperforming our national government in trustworthiness isn’t anything a pharma CEO should be proud of. We simply deserve better, and that’s my take.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email