Kantar Health Blog

Engaging South Korean doctors – should digital be the default?

by Junghwa Lee | Jun 21, 2012
Junghwa Lee

In an earlier blog, I looked at how online patient communities could yield interesting findings for some therapy areas in South Korea.  Like their Western counterparts, doctors in Korea have to now manage newly empowered patients who come to them armed with information and data gathered online. They also have to make themselves accessible to patients via mobile devices as well as desktop computers, while adhering to established codes of ethics and confidentiality. However, unlike their Western counterparts, Korean doctors have a history of being very active online, mainly because of the government support for high speed technology, the high status attached to having access to such tools plus the access to the latest global medical news and peer reviews that being online affords.


But while there have been numerous studies into the online habits of physicians in the West and some very general studies on overall online usage there was no specific information on Korean doctors online habits. We therefore set about undertaking a study to reveal how best to engage Korean doctors online, looking at a sample of over 400 doctors across key therapy areas - endicrinology, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, hematology/oncology and pulmonologyin general hospitals, as well as PCPs in clinics.

Our study confirmed that online communication is a key facet of Korean doctors’ working life. While a high percentage still see sales reps and discuss treatment with colleagues in offline meetings more than once a week, this activity was combined with high online usage (81% online at work), particularly for the younger doctors. Internet usage at home was also around twice as high as TV viewing, the next most popular activity.

You can see a summary of our key findings here but basically we found that Korean doctors appear to show the same sort of strong engagement characteristics seen in other parts of Asia, such as China. Western doctors tend to be much more functional in their approach to social media, possibly because they have greater access to offline per reviewed journals and other materials than Korean doctors or simply because they do not live in the broadband capital of the world!

Have you found digital to be a key facet of your stakeholder campaigns in Asia? Please let us know!


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