How to build an online medical information service that resonates with your customers

Jiayi Chen | 28th July 2017

In the past few years, budgetary challenges have led pharmaceutical organisation’s to reduce their sales forces. However, as an increasing number of drugs have come off patent, there is a growing need for clinical and scientific medical information.

Now more and more pharmaceutical companies are investing in medical information services, committed to offering robust clinical and scientific information to healthcare professionals.

Major players such as Pfizer, Janssen and Eli Lilly have built up their online medical information services, helping them to better meet the needs of healthcare professionals.

Why is medical information important?

According to our research, global medical information requests have grown 7% per year since 2008 and digital platforms are one of the primary resources for researching medical information.

A mammoth 68% of health care practitioners are searching online for treatment strategies and guidelines, with 46% using search engines to assist with prescribing decisions. The pharmaceutical industry has responded to this growing need with the design and delivery of medical information solutions, which are now commonplace among major manufacturers.

Until online medical information services came to play, the delivery of medical information was inefficient. Now, with a self-service medical information website, healthcare professionals can access the information they need right at the point of need.

This is beneficial for healthcare professionals and cost saving for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

5 things to consider when developing a medical information service

There are five key considerations Pharma companies should be aware of when developing a medical information service:

1. Understand that global regulation and compliance varies

Manufacturers are responsible for the way they respond to unsolicited requests for medical information about prescription drugs. They also have to make sure the requests are compliant with the legal requirements.

These requirements can differ greatly in different countries. For example, in many European countries, healthcare professionals need to verify their professions before accessing on-label and off-label information.

This not only has legal implications but also impacts the customer journey and the UX design of the medical information service. A thorough understanding of regulation and compliance requirements is critical.

 2. Remember user research is at the heart of your solution design

The success of the service depends on how well it addresses healthcare professional’s needs and provides added value. Take their professional requirements, information-seeking behaviours and their context of use into consideration.

The solution design should always keep users’ needs in mind. User experience design creates positive experience at every touch point. It helps users navigate easily and ensures they get the information they need without roadblocks.

Conduct primary research before the service design generates insights. These insights can validate healthcare professional’s needs, map their learning journeys and preferences and help you to understand their digital behaviours. This information will inform the service design.

3. Improve your SEO

It might sound simple, but visibility in search engine results is critical for an online medical information service. Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help improve the chances of information being found by healthcare professionals.

A carefully crafted SEO strategy combines on-site and off-site factors. Useful tactics include using targeted content, metadata, sitemaps, and building valuable links. By adopting SEO techniques that only let Google crawlers bypass the authentication, Google will be able to access the content while healthcare professionals have to provide authentication to get the information they need.

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