China Insights
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Meet the digitally savvy Chinese patients

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Health 21.11.2017 / 12:15

Digital patients full

Compared with other countries, Chinese patients spend much more time online looking for medical information, and more likely to request a prescription change.

We know that Chinese consumers are among the most digitized populations in the world, but what does that mean when it comes to their medical activities? According to the latest annual survey Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017*, Chinese patients spend an average of 29.3 hours per week online, with 26% of this time spent on medical related activities such as providing feedback on the information they've received and service they've experienced. 

They're most interested in medical and disease education articles, followed by medication instructions. However, their satisfaction levels are not very high, as there are trust issues with the information they are receiving. In many instances, they will start their search from Baidu and scroll down several pages to identify reliable sources. In our survey, we were surprised to find that some patients will even explore physician professional websites, such as DXY, Haodaifu and others, to gather information in the physician's domain.  

With Chinese patients becoming increasingly digital, they're now driving demand and creating a joint decision making model between physicians and patients. This joint model is arguably more prevalent in China than anywhere else in the world, and in low risk conditions like a fever or cold physicians may completely defer to what a patient wants. For example, in this new proactive role, 47% of patients in Tier I cities said that they've requested a prescription change, with 42% of physicians approving this change. While in Tier III-V cities, 39% of patients said that they've requested a change, with 32% of physicians approving that change.

Finally, in specialty areas such as diabetes and oncology, the negotiation power of patients can be totally opposite.

Chinese patients are also wealthier and more willing to spend. Many Chinese consumers want the best that money can buy, as 41% of Chinese patients prefer brand name medicines to generics, compared to about 20% of EU and US patients who prefer branded medicines.

Nonetheless, digital can make patient power health a reality, but we as an industry need to supply more reliable sources for patients, as they rely heavily on digital sources for information and support at many points along their patient journey.

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's notes

* In collaboration with DXY for the 5th wave of the study, Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017 is the largest physician and patient online surveys in China that purely focuses on picturing real life in the digital environment. In this latest wave, we updated our methodology, report content and analysis to better serve the needs of our clients. With more comprehensive content and useful insight, Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017 is an even more valuable tool that will enable our clients to better understand the digital landscape in China's medical environment.

The Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017 syndicated reports are now available through subscription. For more information, or to know more information, data and analysis of health industry, please contact us ;

* For contents about doctors' digitalized life and work, please read: "Chinese doctors increasingly prefer WeChat over apps";

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