A group of scientists and HCPs have published a paper indicating that, through their use of hashtags during medical society conferences, biopharmas and medical device companies exert a disproportionate influence on healthcare providers to promote their products or services instead of sharing unbiased, evidence-based information.
The full analysis with comments (including mine) can be viewed here:
I must admit this aspect of pharma’s Twitter contributions to hashtags is one that I had not fully considered, possibly because I have been far more concerned with encouraging the industry to use social media and engage with HCPs openly. We should not forget that it was only a few years ago that the very first pharmas plucked up sufficient courage and developed appropriate internal guidelines to enable them to contribute to conference hashtags; Boehringer Ingelheim springs instantly to mind.
Yet, most importantly, the analysis raises some critical issues concerning the industry’s apparent power to influence: should its behaviour be curbed or regulated in some way?
BALE (Suisse), 22 juillet 2015 (TICsanté) - Novartis ambitionne de coupler ses molécules en développement à d'autres technologies, produits et services, principalement digitaux afin d'aller "au-delà du médicament" en fournissant des "solutions thérapeutiques holistiques", a déclaré le directeur mondial du développement, Vas Narasimhan, le 30 juin lors d'un voyage de presse consacré à l'innovation.
The rise of digital technologies has had a transformational impact across everyday life and business globally – including the healthcare industry.
Exponential growth in the use of the internet, social media, and apps; as well as the uptake of personal computing, smartphones and tablets by all healthcare stakeholders – patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and payers – is well documented.
As a result, the role of social media in healthcare and impact on patient engagement is moving to centre-stage, propelled not only by technology, but also by patient demand and growing influence of the digital native generation.
The term social media encompasses social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), collaborative services, blogs, content hosting sites (e.g. Wikipedia), and virtual communities.
Markets have become conversations, and social media is the online platform and location where these conversations take place.
Social media creates highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, comment on, discuss, share, and modify, user-generated content. It provides a way for people to participate in conversations; to tap into what people are saying about a brand, a product or a service.
By participating in these conversations, companies are exposed to what their customers are thinking and saying – these are the insights that can lead to making better business decisions.
Social Media also plays an important role in establishing communication with consumers and disseminating relevant and accurate information.
Social media has changed the way we communicate – between organisations, communities, and individuals.
Although the pharma industry is heavily regulated and thus forced to work within much stricter guidelines, it does not mean that social media as a marketing and communications platform should be ignored.
Social media marketing has become a way in which companies engage with their customers.
Over the past few years there has been a general understanding among pharma companies that they can’t use or benefit from the use of social media, things have now shifted to a point where they should be asking ‘how can we use social media?’
By avoiding social media, companies are missing out on important opportunities to enhance their online presence and connect with their customers.
Healthcare app developers take note: “Patients are people. They’re only patients part of the time,” advised Neal Sofian, vice president of engagement and innovation at Vivacity, a wellness subsidiary of Premera Blue Cross in Washington state.More than a few developers focus too much on customer retention rather than app efficacy, according to Sofian. If the health app is to address a one-time concern rather than a chronic disease, retention is far less important than building something that people use when they really need it, he said.“I don’t think people give a damn about their health unless they’re sick, then they care a lot,” Sofian said Tuesday at the MedCity ENGAGE conference in Bethesda, Md. “Illness is not the same as health, but that’s what we’ve been building on,” Sofian added, to some applause.
In 1948, the year I was born, the average American man did not retire at age 65. He died of a heart attack.There were no thrombolytic drugs to break up the clots that were starving his heart of oxygen, no beta-blockers to ease the strain on his heart. There were no cardiac surgeons. Coronary artery bypass grafts lay a dozen years in the future, and though cardiac catheterization had just been developed, it would be nearly three decades before it would be used to reopen blocked coronary arteries
If pharmaceutical and medical device companies are on the fence about how to incorporate social media into their digital marketing campaigns, they better get moving. The reason is simple: That’s where patients and consumers are.
The first place that most people turn to for health information is the Internet. Increasingly, the main way that people access the Internet is via a smart, mobile device. In a post at Compliance Monitor, Cadient’s Gene Y. Miller notes that research from the Pew Research Center shows that 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their phones to look up health or medical information; 19 percent have downloaded an app. “Pharmaceutical marketers,” Miller writes, “need to engage with their audience on their terms.”
In the fall of 2014, the FDA released draft guidelines covering how companies can discuss their products on social media. Those preliminary guidelines call on companies to state both the risks and benefits of their products, a tall order considering that Twitter’s interface limits messaging to bite-sized snippets of information of no more than 140 characters.
Striking a balance between conveying an effective marketing message that also includes appropriate safety and risk disclosures can be difficult. But Miller says that with some effort, pharma marketers can do both.
Say much, use little space. In order to convey both risk and benefit, Miller suggests economizing space by using abbreviation, punctuation marks, and symbols, such as “&.”Primary and secondary links. Primary links should be a site that provides more complete information about risk. A secondary link could also be included for additional information.Consider the platform. Twitter is not the right forum for every pharma marketing message. If the proper risk/benefit balance cannot be achieved in the constraints of Twitter, or any other social media forum, Miller says that perhaps that platform should not be used for that particular message.Composing an FDA-approved Tweet. In a nutshell, keep it short and sweet. Include the benefit. Communicate the risk. Use the full FDA-approved product name.
Technology changes quickly and regulation moves slowly. The FDA will likely have more to say on the matter and the agency’s guidelines can shift and change. But Miller says that’s no reason to wait. Internet users generate more than 500 million Tweets every day, according to some estimates. “Short-form messaging and advertising is going to remain a major fixture of the media landscape for the foreseeable future,” he says.
Apple medical ResearchKitWhen Apple first announced ResearchKit, it was met with a fair amount of skepticism about whether the data collected via smartphones would be robust enough to be useful. But just a few scant months after that announcement, it seems many in healthcare are at least paying attention to the possibilities of smartphone-based data collection in general and ResearchKit in particular.Last week the National Institutes of Health made it clear they were looking into something along those lines for the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Now Buzzfeed is reporting that at least two pharma companies — GlaxoSmithKline and Purdue Pharmaceuticals — are looking into ResearchKit projects of their own.GlaxoSmithKline confirmed it was “currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months.” Purdue said that they’re still in the early stages of developing something for the platform.
Christian Gardner, Director, Media Services at pharmaphorum marks Social Media Day by looking at pharma's progress in engaging patients and healthcare professionals via social media.
Did you know that today is Social Media Day? I know what you're thinking, with the advent of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest, surely every day is social media day?
Well, despite this seemingly constant activity, it's good to step back once in a while and think about how we use social media, and how it applies to conversations in healthcare.
In particular, I want to talk about the importance of communicating via social media clearly, concisely - and most importantly - consistently. This is important for everyone, but for the pharmaceutical industry it's critical.
We often communicate – not just on social media – in peaks and troughs. The pharma industry tends to deluge its audiences with messages around key events, congresses and milestones. But between these activities, it can sometimes feel to our audiences like someone turned a switch off somewhere.
I think it's fair to say that pharma is still lagging behind other sectors in how it uses digital and social media. Regulations (or a fear / lack of understanding of them) have played a role in this, but, happily, that's a post for another day. During the last few years I've watched pharma's engagement in social media mature: some companies are still tentatively dipping their toes in the digital waters; a brave few have embraced social media, often to their competitive advantage. The bottom line is, things are getting better.
So how is social and digital media being used most effectively to regularly engage with stakeholders? Here are a few observations.
As the 'empowered patient' becomes more prominent, pharma must find ways to communicate and work collaboratively with them
Focus on Patients
Of course, pharma has to be very careful not to promote medicines when engaging with patients online, but there are no rules to say that it can't communicate more broadly. Many companies refer to themselves as 'patient-centric', but what does this actually mean? And why doesn't this come through in much of their social media efforts?
At a time when the 'empowered patient' or 'ePatient' is becoming more prominent, particularly online, pharma should be thinking of more ways to communicate and work collaboratively with patients and patient groups. But before any of this can happen pharma needs to do something very important – listen to what is being said.
For example, in many rare diseases, there is a distinct lack of information on social media for patients, compared to something like breast cancer. Granted, breast cancer affects more people, but the need for reliable information for patients remains, regardless of the disease.
I see an opportunity here for pharma to partner with existing ePatients to create content, where there is mutual benefit. Partnering with ePatients not only adds credibility (they've been through it), it also eases some of the compliance concerns from a pharma perspective.
It's also time leaders within the industry get better at explaining what they mean by patient-centricity. One thing is certain, it can't be just another corporate buzzword. What sort of commitments and changes to how pharma works does it really represent? On top of this, there needs to be some definition of what success looks like.
I was very happy to see some evidence of this relationship moving forward at last week'seyeforpharma Patient Summit 2015 in London. But there was still feedback from attendees that some of the challenges being discussed were the same as those from a decade ago.
Some of the most promising pharma case studies included initiatives around gathering qualitative feedback from patients during clinical trials (AstraZeneca), raising awareness around back pain to ensure quicker referrals and / or prevention of disease (AbbVie) and genuine interaction with patients in Spain via corporate social media channels (Leo Pharma).
Opportunities for continuing engagement
Healthcare congresses are evolving at an astonishing pace. Many are now seeing the number of people following via social media far exceeding those physically present at these meetings. This is down, in part, to people simply not being able to travel as much. It's also the result of increasing technological capabilities.
According to Symplur, the amount of tweeting at ASCO 2015 was not just higher than the previous year, but greater than any other medical congress to date. Over 13,000 people took part in the conversation – this represents a massive shift for ASCO, and will undoubtedly influence the future direction of this and other congresses.
Pharma is responding to this change by upping its digital and social activity around these events, providing those attending and those following with 'live coverage' via its social channels. This was evidenced by one of Mike Thompson's tweets during ASCO (see below; follow him on Twitterhere). There's also excellent data coverage provided from investors, trade journalists, HCPs and the medical societies.
We're also starting to see more representation from patients at medial congresses, although some medical societies are grappling with compliance issues around patients and the general public attending scientific symposia and data presentations. Nonetheless it's clear there is no going back to the 'closed shop' approach for these events, and patient participation is likely to continue to grow and mature.
Pharma therefore has a fantastic opportunity to build relations with healthcare professionals, the medical community and even ePatients during these meetings. While recent progress is encouraging, the industry needs to make engagement part of its routine – and not just something to do around the big events. That way the conversations and relationships can be more open, trusting and truly constructive.