Kantar Media Studies Review Pharmacist Internet, Mobile, and Patient Consulting Habits
By Mia Burns
Internet usage among pharmacists has not changed much since 2011, and more pharmacists report using smartphones and tablets for professional purposes but still trail physician use, according to Kantar Media’s Sources & Interactions 2013 Study – Pharmacy Edition. The pharmacy edition, conducted every year, is designed to profile pharmacists’ media use in areas of interest to advertisers, agencies, and publishers. In addition, Kantar Media found in its 2013 pharmacy study that the 114,765 actively practicing full-time pharmacists in the United States report spending an average of just over 2 hours of time consulting with patients per day.
Pharmacists still conduct about the same amount of Internet sessions for work reasons; however the length of an average session has increased by about a minute and a half. When compared to physicians, pharmacists tend to conduct about one fewer Internet session per week, but spend between 1 and 2 minutes more per session. “Pharmacists are asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘least important’ and 5 is ‘most important,’ the importance of various sources of information in helping them stay abreast of industry developments, business ideas, and new products and services,” Kantar Media's Healthcare Research Team told Med Ad News Daily. “They were also asked to indicate their exposure to each source. We receive client feedback each year to make sure we’re asking pharmacists the questions our clients are curious about. This year, we’ve expanded our survey to better display how pharmacists interact with digital media. Health system pharmacists are using the Internet almost 50 percent more frequently than retail pharmacists.”
But Jeff Harrell, PharmD, and owner of Ilwaco Drugs in Ilwaco, Washington, has a different take on the study findings. “I personally believe that pharmacists are actually going and using the web more than physicians,” he told Med Ad News Daily. “I think that with medication therapy management and Internet-based resources that we need to utilize and dispense on a daily basis that we are relying on the Internet much more in this day and age.”
When it comes to smartphones and tablets, usage of pharmacists among both devices showed a steady increase year-over-year. The percent that use smartphones for work reasons rose 2 percent year-over-year while tablet usage jumped by 7 percent. The data suggests that like other healthcare professionals, pharmacists see the value of incorporating digital technology into their jobs although they have not adopted the devices as quickly as doctors.
“We have expanded our mobile device usage section to better understand how pharmacists use their smartphones and tablets and how they interact with medical journals, newspapers and magazines via smartphone apps, tablet apps, etc.,” says Kantar Media's Healthcare Research Team. “As with physicians, iPhone dominates as the smartphone of choice. Even with emergence of digital resources, 9 out of 10 pharmacists read current issues of professional journals in print; only a fourth read digital versions.”
The figures from the 2013 Pharmacy Readership Study have not fluctuated very much since 2008, with pharmacists still spending about 2 hours per day consulting with patients. A large portion of a pharmacist’s work responsibilities also includes filling and refilling prescriptions for consumers. The 138,271 actively practicing U.S. pharmacists report filling or refilling about 259 prescriptions in an average day. Similar to patient interaction, this number also has not wavered much since 2009, ranging from about 251 to 259 prescriptions filled per day.
The study is designed to provide an unbiased evaluation of media brand consumption, publication readership, and information sources used by pharmacists, tied to their customer interactions, prescription filling habits, work location and role, to assist marketers as they evaluate promotional potential in pharmacy media, according to Kantar Media's Healthcare Research Team. “On average, the projected number of readers of an average pharmacy publication issue is 19,744,” the researchers told Med Ad News Daily. “Again though, this ranges depending on publication from about 60 to more than 76,000 readers, demonstrating that there are clear favorites among this audience and specific media brands that will be more effective at delivering promotional messaging, depending on campaign objective and target audience.” In addition, 57 percent of full time pharmacists see all or most sales reps, and 71 percent of full time pharmacists say that they are allowed to make drug substitutions.
“We’re probably not spending as much time with the patient that we think we are,” Dr. Harrell told Med Ad News Daily. “Interaction that you think is a minute is probably closer to 30 seconds. Their report on this is pretty accurate that it is just over two hours in a full time day filling about 259 prescriptions. That would be about 15 seconds per patient if you had 250 come in.”
Pharmacists will need to adopt automation so they are spending less time filling prescriptions, thus freeing them up to spend more time with patients, Dr. Harrell says. “Automation and technology—those I truly believe are going to pull the pharmacist away and give them a little bit more time. Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are probably going to become a more integral part of the patients’ healthcare management at the pharmacist level with more MTM like programs.”