China’s doctors going digital but need better medical apps: study

Digital communication channels are gaining strength in China’s medical sector, but more than 60% of physicians are deleting medical apps shortly after installing them because they’re not useful or professional enough, according to a new study from Kantar Health.

The study – Digital Life Physician 2016, which is designed to assess how physicians in China acquire medical information – reveals that digital communication channels continue to gain strength for medical information access, with more than 90% of physicians have installed medical-related apps on their smartphones.

But the survey also found that over 60% have deleted these apps, most often within four weeks of installing. The main reasons given for deleting apps are that they are not useful or fail to meet physicians’ professional needs.

“With each generation of our study it’s becoming overwhelmingly clear that physicians in China are rapidly adopting digital information channels as a primary means to consume information and communicate,” said Diana Tan, General Manager, China at Kantar Health. “However, our latest report finds that companies need to work harder in designing medical-related apps that deliver quality content, are continually useful, and remain engaging over time. Unique insights such as this will enable healthcare stakeholders to achieve deeper, more productive engagements that will ultimately improve patient care.”

 Key findings of the study include:

  • 97% of physicians in China subscribe to medical-related WeChat accounts.
  • Physicians subscribe to an average of eight medical-related public accounts, and more than half read all or most “push” messages sent.
  • Physicians are most likely to install medical-related apps to acquire knowledge or get information on the industry.
  • Physicians are challenged with finding the right medical-related public accounts because they have many options.
  • Physicians are spending an increasing amount of time online, 27.4 hours per week, with over half of that time spent on professional activities.

Digital Life Physician 2016, conducted by Kantar Health and DXY, is the largest online physician survey in China that’s purely focused on picturing the real-life online behavior of physicians in China and the competitive digital landscape. More than 10,000 respondents participated in the survey from both web and mobile survey apps covering more than 20 specialty areas. The study, now in its fourth year, measures three elements: physician behavior, company performance and best practices.

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