More Than Two-Thirds of U.S. Consumers Seek Medical Advice Via the Internet and Social Media, Accenture Study Finds

Survey suggests pharmaceutical companies are falling short in addressing this captive audience

CHICAGO; Nov. 16, 2010 -- A new Accenture (NYSE: ACN) survey shows that U.S. consumers seeking medical advice are turning to medical websites, social media sites, online communities and informational websites in far greater numbers than the web sites of pharmaceutical companies. According to the survey, of the more than two thirds (68 percent) who go online for health information, slightly more than one in 10 (11 percent) regularly turn to a pharmaceutical company’s website to seek information about an illness or medical condition, compared to nine in 10 (92 percent) who look to other online resources more frequently.

The survey of more than 850 consumers suggests that pharmaceutical companies that are not fully leveraging multiple online channels are missing a real opportunity to address this captive audience. It also demonstrates that the fundamental shift from a predominantly one-way company-to-patient dialogue to enabling a patient-to-patient – and even a patient-to-physician dialogue – through the evolution of social networks and online communities, has resulted in fragmentation.

“Pharmaceutical companies that embrace innovations such as social networking and communications via mobile devices and integrate and align their communication strategy across multiple channels will be positioned to have a much greater influence on their patients’ choices and consequently, realize significant increases in revenue, profitability and sustained competitive advantage,” said Tom Schwenger, global managing director for Accenture’s Life Sciences Sales & Marketing practice.

According to the survey, 69 percent of respondents expect pharmaceutical companies to provide information about the medical condition or illness for which they are taking drugs. To address that expectation, Accenture believes pharmaceutical companies must not only provide the right information, but upgrade their websites to create a more dynamic, interactiveexperience, demonstrate an understanding of their patients’ needs, provide holistic solutions and clearly reinforce their brand identity in a two-way dialogue.

“While pharmaceutical companies are methodical in manufacturing their products, there is a clear disconnect in how they communicate with their patients,” Schwenger said. “Companies need to reevaluate their marketing campaigns to ensure they are integrated across all patient touch-points and channels to meet customer demand for health solutions, increase trust and brand loyalty and enhance customer perceptions.”

Accenture asserts that there will continue to be significant, disruptive innovations in the pharmaceutical sales and marketing model within the next five years driven by the creation of a more customer-focused business model, further cost-cutting initiatives and the quest by companies to gain a more competitive edge.

“The survey results clearly show that pharmaceutical companies must adopt a better understanding of their patient behavior through sophisticated analysis in order to fully capitalize on how patients interact with social media channels and websites,” said Schwenger. “With only 11 percent of survey respondents saying they most often use a pharmaceutical company’s web site to seek information about an illness or condition when looking online, pharmaceutical companies have a tremendous opportunity to better connect with patients through multiple digital venues in addition to their own website.”


The study was based on an online survey conducted by Accenture of 852 adult consumers in the U.S. between August 30, 2010 and September 3, 2010. The survey sample is representative by gender, age, and geography of the U.S. population. Consumers polled indicated they or someone in their household was currently taking prescribed medications.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 204,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010. Its home page is


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