Doctors often give out information leaflets to educate patients about their condition. But are those always being read? And can patients access more relevant information using digital sources?
In a recent survey by Bryter, 70% of Primary Care Physicians said they have personally recommended leaflets to their patients with type 2 diabetes. Comparatively, only 33% of diabetes patients recalled recommendations to read a leaflet from their doctor, and fewer than half of those (43%) had actually done it. There seems to be a discrepancy between doctors’ intention to pass on information, and patients’ willingness to take it on. This may be caused by the perceived quality of information available to patients. If they don’t think it’s going to be useful, why read it at all?
With leaflets there is also the chance that patients will look at them once and then forget about them. Doctors rarely have the time to go through them with patients, and they lack the interactive element that will prove useful to patients in the long-term. These days, digital options offer an alternative that may keep patients engaged for longer.
Traditional leaflets may still be the education material that most doctors recommend to their patients, but a number of digital sources are now also recommended. One third of doctors say they recommend patient support group’s websites (34%) and 3-in-10 recommend their patients use a health tracking device (31%). The digital source that most diabetes patients recall being recommended to them is drug company / product websites, which highlights a need for useful, relevant content to appear there.
When asked what could have the most positive impact on type 2 diabetes patients, 29% of doctors said leaflets, but 69% chose any of the digital sources available. The survey amongst diabetes patients showed that they are open to using information sources, both leaflets (59% said they would very / fairly likely read those) and digital: over half said they would use patient support groups, government websites, health tracking devices, or drug company / product websites.
With a variety of digital services now offered by pharmaceutical companies and other providers, patients have a greater chance to find a source that supports their needs. Novo Nordisk offers an online portal with videos providing clinical, professional, and product education. Sanofi has developed a number of devices under the MyStar brand, which help monitor blood glucose levels and manage the patient’s lifestyle accordingly. Over at the Apple Store, apps such as Glucose Buddy are available to track glucose, meds, and diet.
There is a clear demand for information sources, recognised by doctors and patients alike. Leaflets still play an important role and can indeed be useful as a starting point, particularly if they provide the information patients need at an early stage. However, digital is and will continue to play an increasingly important role in patient education and support
When it comes to digital sources, devices and content, Bryter can support providers and help them tailor their offer so that they can deliver what patients need to help manage their condition, and stay informed about their health.