Eight in 10 caregivers have access to the Internet, and of those, 88% look online for health information
The latest Pew Internet health report provides some powerful insights into an audience that is key for many rare disease brands but far too often overlooked: caregivers.
Family members caring for a parent, spouse or child living with a long-term health issue have a significant influence on both choice of treatment and compliance. During some phases the patient’s journey, caregivers may even be the primary decision makers. Understanding their needs and knowing how to build relationships with them is one way to differentiate your brand.
Connecting to caregivers online
How can you reach this important audience? One of the best places to find them is online. Eight in 10 caregivers have access to the Internet, and of those, 88% look online for health information.
According to the Pew study, Family Caregivers Online, caregivers are more likely than other Internet users to engage in a number of health-related online activities:
- 38% of online caregivers have consulted online reviews of particular drugs or medical treatments, compared with 18% of non-caregivers.
- 21% of online caregivers have consulted online rankings or reviews of doctors or other providers, compared with 13% of non-caregivers.
- 20% of online caregivers have consulted online rankings or reviews of hospitals or other medical facilities, compared with 12% of non-caregivers.
This research found that social media is particularly relevant for this group.
- 44% of online caregivers have read someone else’s personal health story online, versus 29% of non-caregivers.
- 28% of online caregivers who use sites like Facebook have followed their friends’ personal health experiences or health updates, versus 21% of non-caregivers who use such sites.
- 26% of online caregivers have looked online for someone with similar health concerns, versus 15% of non-caregivers.
Caregivers are different
Crafting a strategy that meets the needs of this audience requires a recognition of the fact that caregivers’ concerns are similar in some ways to those of the patient, but they are also different. Like patients, caregivers are concerned about disease, symptoms, insurance, healthcare providers and treatment.
But in addition, they face a whole host of challenges that are unique to the caregiving situation–dealing with stress, fatigue and burnout; finding sources of community and professional support; balancing caregiving with work, home and the needs of other family members; and meeting both the physical and emotional needs of the patient.
Building relationships with caregivers
What’s more, caregivers are not just different from patients. They can also be different from each other in many ways. How well do you know the needs of the caregivers in your brand’s community? The best way to learn about them is to listen to them talk about their hopes and their challenges. You may find that you have a lot in common.
What have you learned about working with caregivers? We’d love to hear about it.
(Image courtesy of 2bamazed on Flickr)