Philadelphia, PA — Monique Levy, Vice President of Research at Decision Resources Group (you might know them by their previous name: Manhattan Research) shared a whirlwind of research and ideas about the new tensions and needs in healthcare. She started with one we’ve all been talking a lot about:

The decision making power of physicians is eroding

Requirements of healthcare systems and payers are driving decision making at the point of care. According to their Taking the Pulse survey in 2015, 82% of physicians say that the majority of the prescriptions they write are within the formulary.

To help physicians prescribe an off-formulary treatment that a patient might request or that the doctor might just be intrigued to try, they need our help in developing business cases that challenge the constraints of the system.

Decision Resources is also betting that new kinds of services will help brands stay relevant in this changing healthcare-as-a-business climate. They found that 59% of physicians expect to receive more services, relevant to emerging needs:

  • 31% want adherence programs
  • 46% financial resources and instruments
  • 35% prevention and wellness tools
  • 29% support meeting federal quality programs


Value for payers is tied to cost today; experience, tomorrow

Decision Resources’ study of formulary decision makers found that 55% of payers mean cost today when they speak of value, but 65% believe that in the future, value will increasingly include quality and patient experience.

An equal number – 65% – believe pharma can provide value by delivering solutions and support that help their organizations achieve specific metrics-based goals.

How do they find that information? Levy said that most are using physician-designed product sites to find answers to their critical questions about brand-named medications. Payers are relying on those digital resources more than ever. Look at the number of FDMs who agree that they’re using digital resources for formulary decision making now more than a year ago:

  • Hospital: 83% all digital, 52% pharma digital
  • MCOs: 76% all digital, 20% pharma digital
  • PMBs: 63% all digital, 13% pharma digital


Physicians are looking for immediate information fixes

Just like all of us, right? They want to get directly to the information they need at the moment they need it. When 46% of doctors go to pharma websites they’re looking for product information; 12% are looking for condition info; 4%, customer service.

Search is obviously a big tool they’re turning to. 76% are are using search terms that include medical technology; 68% conditions, and 47% brand-name drugs.

One place those instant answers could come from in their own EHR, but mining for data there is a relatively new behavior: 33% say they’re currently using data from their EHR to drive clinical outcomes.

Physicians are looking for support to keep their patients accountable

As we move into an outcomes-driven era, doctors are looking for resources beyond medications to help their patients meet key health goals. What kind of resources? Ones designed to support the conversations they’re already having:

  • 41% apps to track health metrics
  • 42% condition info I can email to a patient
  • 42% treatment information I can email to a patient
  • 36% remote monitoring devices or tracking
  • 31% adherence programs

One other quick note – some of these programs could be used while the patient is still at the practice. Their Cybercitizen report found that  25% of people are using their smartphones to search for information or resources when the physician steps out of the exam room.

Empowered consumers are experiencing new burdens in healthcare decision making

High deductible healthcare plans are adding a new speed bump to many conversations between doctor or pharmacist and patient: cost. The new financial burden + increasingly access to information means that patients are more involved in complex healthcare decision making than ever before – even when they don’t have the tools to be confident about those decisions.

Doctors are trying to navigate this new space and know the right way to support patients. 46% of doctors say cost impacts health choices more than two years ago. They’re giving patients more information, too, but patients can have all the information in the world and it won’t help if they don’t know how to evaluate it. Here are some of the new needs Levy highlighted:

  • 42% of patients use a condition website; 37% use a product website
  • 37% say pharma websites need to do a better job of helping me evaluate and select which treatment is best for me
  • 50% want information on a pharma websites to be tailored to their needs
  • 59% of online consumers expect healthcare to offer the same level of customers service I receive at a service-oriented company like Amazon

Video remains a key medium that patients are using for learning. 42% of people are watching health videos. Of that group, 43% say a video can be as informative as a visit to the doctor; 32% say a video has helped them make a decision about a drug.

Patients want more meaningful support

Involved patients, especially those who use smartphones, want more sophisticated tools from pharma. And, importantly, that support is meaningful in their overall consideration of value of the medication. 21% of people said they would pay more for a drug or health procedure if they new it came with extra support services. Those numbers are even higher in high-impact chronic conditions: 50% would pay more of ulcerative colitis treatments; 35%, RA; 34%, Psoriasis)

The kinds of advanced tools they want from pharma were highlighted in a survey of people living with multiple sclerosis:

  • 29% want online tools to help understand what drugs are covered by insurance
  • 37% want advanced MD or hospital finders based on personal preference, including location, cost, quality, and patient ratings
  • 32% want online questionnaires that suggest conditions might have and 41% prefer symptom trackers
  • 33% want a medication comparison tool


We have an opporutnity to create tools for audiences who aren’t satisfied with nebulous health tracking and want real measurements of the impact of their behaviors. Today, 42% say they are digitally track health measurements and 11% use a wearable to track health, wellness or fitness

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.