China Insights

Physicians' professional online time grows 30%

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Health 28.10.2015 / 06:15

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Among all surveyed physicians, 85% say they welcome digital marketing activities, and 76% believe brands will realize advantages by “going digital”.

Kantar Health found that physicians spent an average of 23.7 hours online per week in 2015, compared to an average of 20.6 hours online a year ago, according to Digital Life Physician 2015. The 2015 study revealed that 12.5 online hours were spent on professional-related activities, a 30% increase from 9.6 hours in 2014.

"Digital Life Physician 2015", the third annual joint study by Kantar Health and China's leading doctor online community, is the largest online physician survey in China focusing on measuring physician's digital behaviours. This year's survey covered 4,704 doctors from tier 1 to 5 Chinese cities and used a combination of innovative online and offline methodologies to measure the digital engagement levels of physicians across multiple online channels. 

The survey also found that doctors from respiratory (13.8 hours), oncology (13.5 hours) and cardiology (13.4 hours) specialty areas spent more online time for professional purposes than their peers in other areas. Compared with last year, the increase of online professional time is more significant in low tier cities, lower title physicians and higher level hospitals.

Growth Of Professional Online Time

* Distribution of professional online time

In the research, medical-related online activities were grouped into six categories, of which "Knowledge", "Search" and "Continuous Medical Education" attracted more time than other activities.

• Knowledge (3 hours, 24%) - Physician sourcing of professional information online using medical portals, medical information websites, product websites, encyclopedia websites and association websites to acquire disease and treatment, product, and conference and exhibition information.

• Search (2.6 hours, 20.8%) - Physicians use of professional search engines and/or databases to find articles, books, guidelines, literature and related information.

• Continuous medical education (CME) (2.1 hours, 16.8%) - CME and online training, including online courses and lectures, surgical videos, patient case analysis, web seminars and online examinations.

• Tools (2 hours, 16%) - Physician use of online devices that assist their clinical practice, research and education, including online professional dictionaries, pharmacopoeia, reference retrieval, scaling and atlases.

• Peer (1.7 hours, 13.6%) - Physicians connecting and sharing with peers online; writing professional blogs, articles, reviews and comments; and following, communicating or cooperative authoring with peers on social networking sites (SNS) and bulletin board systems (BBS).

• Caring (1.1 hours, 8.8%) - Physicians interacting with patients, participating in patient education and support programs, answering patient questions online, and providing online consulting services.

* WeChat and medical-related accounts

WeChat is the dominant social platform in China, and it is also an important and effective channel for Chinese doctors to acquire medical-related information. Of all doctors surveyed, 94% have installed WeChat, and 86% have subscribed to medical-related public accounts.

More than half doctors have subscribed 1 to 5 medical related public accounts.

Sixty-four percent doctors will "read all" (6%) or "read most of" (58%) the "push messages" sent by medical related public accounts while 33% doctors will read small part of "push messages" that interests them sent by the public accounts.

Overall, 85% of physician respondents say they welcome all kinds of digital marketing activities, and more than seven out of 10 Chinese physicians believe pharmaceutical companies will realize advantages by "going digital".

In 2015 survey, AstraZeneca was voted by physicians as the most digitally active marketer in the industry, followed by Pfizer and MSD.

Digital Life Physician Pharma Ranking

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's notes

* About DXY

DXY ( is the largest online academic portal for 5 million Chinese physicians and life sciences professionals. It was established in 2000 and now has 1.8 million licensed physicians. DXY features 100+ columns to facilitate communication, information sharing and collaboration of medical professionals within practically all sub-specialties of clinical medicine, basic medical research, life sciences and pharmaceutical research.

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of health industry in China, please contact us.

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