1 in 3 online consumers (36%) is interested in receiving customer service from the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, these engaged health consumers want contact, first and foremost, with a clinical expert associated with a pharmaceutical company: namely, a doctor or a nurse. In third place would be a patient advocate representing the pharmaceutical company.

During the recording of a podcast this week hosted by Med Ad Newss managing editor Josh Slatko, featuring Monique Levy, VP of Research at Manhattan Research, Adam Budish, SVP of Sales with Epocrates, and me, Monique mentioned this data point from the latest ePharma Consumer study conducted by her firm.

The specific question in the study gauged “interest in having an Rx question personally answered by a representative of a pharmaceutical company.”

That 1 in 3 online health citizens is keen to hear directly from a clinical expert with a pharma company speaks to consumers’ interest in accessing health expertise. This cohort of health consumers is looking for information they can use to take to a physician, double-check and dig deeper into a diagnosis or medical condition, right from “the source” of a drug or health product.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: This finding reinforces something we discovered in the Edelman Health Barometer about what information sources engaged consumers look to for health engagement. Health consumers said that, in the future, “conversations with my doctor” and “family and friends” would grow in importance for engagement. Closely following these personal connections will be medical journals, government, and conversations with “someone like me.” People highly value health expertise, and the more they access more complex information such as that found in medical journals or WebMD, the more comfortable they get.

This is patient engagement’s happy and healthy-by-product: health literacy. Pharma has the opportunity to engage with patients as experts on conditions and therapies. Liberate those in R&D with white lab coats that are deep into the research: a growing cadre of activated health consumers will engage back. This can result in a virtual cycle of trust-building between consumers and a health sector that’s low on the trust totem pole: Big Pharma.

The podcast, on mobile platforms in health adopted by physicians and consumers, will be available online in August 2012 via Med Ad News. Once available, I will provide a link in this post so Health Populi readers can tune into this energetic, informative conversation.