Power to the Patient

by Adele Li | Nov 14, 2017

Digital Age Empowers Chinese Patients with Information and Independence

The best way to understand patients is to get inside their minds and the minds of their physicians. That's exactly what Kantar Health China accomplishes with the latest editions of its industry leading Digital Life Physician and Digital Life Patient surveys.

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.

A Strong Voice
In our surveys, we found that today's Chinese patients are more vocal, wealthier and more willing to spend, and exponentially more digital. Many Chinese consumers want the best that money can buy, as 41 percent of Chinese patients prefer brand name medicines to generics, compared to about 20 percent of EU and U.S. patients who prefer branded medicines.

With Chinese consumers 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 percent of patients in Tier I cities said that they've requested a prescription change, with 42 percent of physicians approving this change. While in Tier III-V cities, 39 percent of patients said that they've requested a change, with 32 percent of physicians approving that change.

The Online Patient Journey
Chinese patients spend an average of 29.3 hours per week online, with 26 percent 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.

The digital age has certainly empowered Chinese patients throughout the patient journey - from identifying symptoms, to achieving diagnosis, to proceeding with treatment. As discussed, this empowerment involves not only talking about medicines with physicians, but actually asking for prescription changes. This trend has spread throughout China from Tier I to Tier V cities. However, reported success rates vary, with 40 percent of patients saying that they've been successful in securing a change, and with only nine percent of physicians saying that they've agreed to changes.


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

To Learn More
The Digital Life Physician & Patient 2017 syndicated reports are now available. For more information, please contact me at adele.li@kantarhealth.com

Leave a comment

More than one Google Analytics scripts are registered. Please verify your pages and templates.