Ask anyone in the healthcare sector what’s keeping them up at night, and chances are they’re going to say three things – adherence, adherence and adherence. Doctors, nurses and hospitals are all trying to figure out why they can’t seem to keep patients on their treatment plans. Meanwhile pharmaceutical companies are concerned, as a drug can only be effective when it is prescribed and taken correctly. Yet many Americans choose to ignore the direction given by their physician.
MotivIndex, a research company that uncovers real consumer motivation through the digital observation of thousands of people, wanted to find out how much faith Americans have in their current doctors. Using a team of PhD sociologists, they deconstructed the lives of over 5000 American medical patients across the country. They looked to better understand the beliefs, values and motivations that were impacting a patient’s relationship with their physician, and driving adherence.
The results: 55 percent of Americans don’t believe in their doctor (You can view the full results of the summary of research here).
The problem? The healthcare industry does not understand the importance of personal agency in the modern era. Times have changed. We have more control than ever before. We have instant access to information. Advice from a friend, family or even a stranger is at our fingertips
Despite all of these inputs, healthcare, physicians and pharmaceutical companies are, for the most part, still taking a “standardized” approach. – When they communicate with a patient, they tend to follow two simple truths:
- Everything is grounded in scientific rigor.
- Your doctor knows best.
While logically, this makes utter and complete sense, this approach only motivates 45 percent of the American patient population to adhere to a treatment. Sure, some people are ok with a non-collaborative approach. Health issues are overwhelming, and when someone from this 45% is told by their healthcare practitioner what they ought to do, the patient will follow the direction with little to no questions asked. But the reason for this, is that this group of people has a belief set that predisposes them to follow authoritative figures. Their values are built around the notion that you, as a person, are supposed to respect the opinion of recognized, knowledge experts. This 45% has a low level of agency. Meaning they believe that fate will play a large role in their health outcomes. They personally can’t do a lot to change the future, other than follow the commandments of the physician.
This lies in stark contrast to the remaining 55% of the patient population.
The problem the healthcare industry faces is that this this “lead user” now dominates the conversation in the health space making up 75% of the share of voice. These are the most vocal, most engaged, and most active people discussing, sharing and feeding information about healthcare, drugs and specific afflictions. The big question is will this loud and passionate group start to alter and change the beliefs held by the 45% adhering to their treatment plan? Because sometimes it’s hard to ignore the loudest voice in the waiting room.
The first step to repairing the doctor/patient relationship starts with the healthcare industry understanding and accepting that we can no longer emotionally, treat every patient the same way. Relying on medical science alone to guide every patient’s journey is creating doubt in the mind of many patients and reducing adherence.