Uncovering audience insights and maintaining
up-to-date medicines information: a quick overview of the electronic medicines compendium (emc)

In a recent webinar held on January 24th, members of the Datapharm team delved into the accessibility of the electronic medicines compendium (emc) for healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients/carers. The discussion brought to light compelling statistics that shed light on user behaviour and preferences when accessing medical information online.

One striking revelation from the webinar was the variance in usage patterns between HCPs and patients/carers when navigating the emc platform. HCPs are more regular users and tend to explore multiple pages, with a significant portion of visits directed towards prescribed medicines. Surprisingly, while 49.2% of HCP entries land on the homepage, 43% directly access specific medicine pages. In contrast, patients and carers demonstrate a more targeted approach, with an overwhelming 89.7% of entries leading directly to specific medicine pages. This figure suggests that patients often rely heavily on search engine recommendations, indicating the need for optimised search visibility and user-friendly content presentation. This highlights the importance of tailoring information to meet the distinct needs of both HCPs and patients/carers.

Another intriguing aspect highlighted during the webinar was the divergence in the utilisation of Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) and Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) between HCPs and patients/carers. While HCPs primarily view SmPCs (69% of the time), patients and carers also demonstrate a significant interest in this technical documentation (72% of the time). These findings challenge conventional assumptions that patients/carers use the PIL over the SmPC’s and suggest a potential need and opportunity to enhance patient education through clearer, more accessible PILS (ePILs as an example).

Moreover, the use of SmPCs over PILs among patients (72% vs. 28%) underscores the importance of adapting medical information to suit diverse audience needs. While PILs are tailored towards patients and often contain more user-friendly terminology, the prevalence of SmPC usage among patients suggests a desire for comprehensive understanding and transparency regarding medication details. It’s worth noting that upon accessing a specific medicine page, the SmPC typically appears first, potentially meeting the immediate informational needs of patients and carers. Consequently, they may forego viewing the PIL altogether. It could also be that Google, where most traffic originates, is directing users to the SmPC as it believes that it better answers the user’s search query. The user may or may not subsequently view the PIL. This could suggest a couple of things…

  1. The language of the SmPC is better suited to Google giving a response to the user’s search term
  2. Increased conversion to ePIL rather than PDF PIL may help. This is difficult to quantify as Google is much better now at indexing content within PDFs, but it could also be due to Google’s ‘mobile first’ policy that will direct users to content that give a better user experience on a mobile device. As we know, viewing PDFs on a mobile is not good.

In conclusion, the insights gained from the webinar underscore the important role of the emc as a trusted source of medical information for both HCPs and patients/carers. The statistics presented highlight the importance of adaptable and accessible content formats, as well as the necessity for ongoing updates to meet evolving user needs.

Statistics mentioned in this article were provided by Datapharm and cover global data collected between October 2022 and December 2022.

If you need guidance or support with your emc portfolio, we’d be more than happy to help. Please contact us at consultancy@jensongroup.com

Lauren Foster
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