Targeting an eHealth audience: what doctors, pharmacists and patients want from pharmaceutical websites?

The growth of the Internet to communicate with patients and health professionals has become a double-edged sword for pharmaceutical companies. While the Web has created unparalleled opportunities for companies to develop valuable long-term and close relationships with physicians and patients, it has also meant that they now have a much wider choice of sources for gathering information.

There are still considerable barriers that slow down the adoption rate of services provided by websites. The ideal objective for pharmaceutical companies is to retain their audience on a long-term basis, ensuring the balance between meeting their information needs and increasing the return on Internet marketing investment is maintained.

The key to turning this challenge into an opportunity is to exploit the fact that patients still use their physicians as a “filter” for the medical information they find on the Internet, and as a trusted referrer of Internet sources.

So how well pharmaceutical marketing works on the Internet is entirely dependent on how the pharmaceutical information plays within the physician/patient relationship. Pharmaceutical information and advertising must “fit” within the physician/patient relationship in order to get results. This makes the importance of testing and tracking research for pharmaceutical advertising absolutely critical. And the testing and tracking research needs to be done for both stakeholder groups in this communications process — the physicians as well as the patients.

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