On November 7, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its plan to research methods for including risk information about pharmaceutical and medical device products in promotional internet communications that have character space limitations, such as sponsored links and microblogs. This move seems to be a step in line with the FDA’s plan to align drug promotion regulations with more modern communications technologies and platforms since releasing draft guidance in June 2014, “Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices.”
When the FDA released the Social Media Guidance, it generated a significant amount of worry in the life sciences industry because it simply put the old rules for traditional communication platforms (i.e, print media, radio, and television) to the newer technologies (i.e., social media and other internet uses). Essentially, the Social Media Guidance required companies to include all relevant risk and benefit information in all internet promotions, even if that form of communication has character limitations. The FDA previously stated that the alternative is to not use the character space limited platforms to promote regulated products.
The FDA’s reasoning has long been questioned, since links to the complete product risk information can be more easily included in shorter communications. FDA did mention links to “a more complete discussion of risk information about the product” in the Social Media Guidance, but only as an additional element to a promotional communication that includes full benefit and risk information.
The Proposed Studies
The announcement proposes four different studies to gather data on participants’ retention of risk information communicated through sponsored links and microblog posts. The four studies will present participants with different promotional communications about two fictional drugs:
- A sponsored link to a fictional weight loss drug embedded in Google search results related to weight loss
- A sponsored link to a fictional migraine drug embedded in Google search results related to migraine
- A promotional tweet for a fictional weight loss drug embedded in a Twitter search page related to weight loss
- A promotional tweet for a fictional migraine drug embedded in a Twitter search page related to migraine
The FDA will tailor the promotional communication and participant instructions to gather data on circumstances that may affect the user’s retention of provided risk information in each study. Each participant will be presented with risk information either within the character-limited communication itself, or through a link provided in the communication. Second, each participant will then be instructed to either browse information about weight loss or migraine, or to perform directed searches for specific information.
It is the FDA’s belief that in each case, users will be more likely to retain risk information and have a greater sense of relevant risks when the risks are presented within the primary promotional communication and when users are searching for specific information about conditions or treatments.
The proposal is welcome, as the flow of information about FDA’s social media policies more or less stopped at the release of the June 2014 draft guidance. Only one OPDP letter issued in 2016 cited social media activity, leading to even further gaps and confusion.
If the studies support the FDA’s hypothesis, it is likely that the agency will not allow exceptions to the benefit/risk information requirement, even as communication and social media platform technology continues to evolve. However, if the studies show that risk information retention and perception of risk are statistically similar across some or all of the variables, the FDA will then be forced into reconsidering whether alternative methods of product risk communication may be acceptable.
Un nouveau système servant à protéger l'ouverture frauduleuse de bouteilles de vin est disponible sur le marché. Deux entreprises, Selinko et Toppan, se
Dans la santé aussi le NFC arrive pour assurer la traçabilité et la sécurité de la chaîne du médicament avec DIGITALCSP.
Patients, doctors and pharmaceutical companies regularly use social media to learn, educate and share information about diseases and treatments.
While patients and doctors have been active social media participants since its inception, pharma companies have been slower to adopt due to regulatory concerns. But now pharma has worked through what the guidelines are, and how to communicate in a way that is compliant with internal and external regulatory, medical and legal groups.
Many face challenges in becoming faster to act and change, and there are still some who are slow to adopt, but we have reached critical mass in Social 1.0 – the use of social media channels for content marketing.
What’s next for pharma and social media? We call the next phase “Agile Social.”
In this next phase, pharma social will move from informational to experiential – think immersive video, virtual reality, merging apps and devices with content, and more.
What is especially exciting about pharma is that it deals with some of the issues ripest for experiential media…what it feels like to have a disease, what medicines DO in the body, the joy of healing. Healthcare is by its very nature anchored in the human experience.
We wanted to know how companies compare in moving from informational to experiential social.
To find out we created the Health Innovation Index. By analyzing over a dozen attributes of a company’s footprint and behavior, we are able to objectively assess who is lagging, keeping pace, and who is leading the way in this transformation.
At Ruder Finn we are big believers in pushing the boundaries to better connect companies and their stakeholders. And in our healthcare practice, we believe the move to experiential media presents a huge opportunity to give pharma and other healthcare companies a special place in peoples’ minds and hearts due to the essential human nature of health.
We’d love to share what we learned via the Healthcare Innovation Index with you. Please contact us and we’d be happy to share what we found about you and your peers, and to discuss…….what’s next.
Background: With online health information becoming increasingly popular among patients, concerns have been raised about the impact of patients’ Internet health information-seeking behavior on their relationship with physicians. Therefore, it is pertinent to understand the influence of online health information on the patient-physician relationship.
Objective: Our objective was to systematically review existing research on patients’ Internet health information seeking and its influence on the patient-physician relationship.
Methods: We systematically searched PubMed and key medical informatics, information systems, and communication science journals covering the period of 2000 to 2015. Empirical articles that were in English were included. We analyzed the content covering themes in 2 broad categories: factors affecting patients’ discussion of online findings during consultations and implications for the patient-physician relationship.
Results: We identified 18 articles that met the inclusion criteria and the quality requirement for the review. The articles revealed barriers, facilitators, and demographic factors that influence patients’ disclosure of online health information during consultations and the different mechanisms patients use to reveal these findings. Our review also showed the mechanisms in which online information could influence patients’ relationship with their physicians.
Conclusions: Results of this review contribute to the understanding of the patient-physician relationship of Internet-informed patients. Our main findings show that Internet health information seeking can improve the patient-physician relationship depending on whether the patient discusses the information with the physician and on their prior relationship. As patients have better access to health information through the Internet and expect to be more engaged in health decision making, traditional models of the patient-provider relationship and communication strategies must be revisited to adapt to this changing demographic.
While all drug launches are complex, launches of rare disease treatments are particularly so. Our experience suggests that companies that launch rare disease treatments must excel in four areas.
Patients affected by rare diseases often find there are no treatments for their condition. Of 7,000 known diseases in this category, 95 percent—referred to as orphan diseases—do not have a single FDA-approved drug treatment. Rare diseases by definition affect a small number of patients, and they historically have not attracted significant pharmaceutical investment.1
Recently, though, large pharmaceutical companies have begun to pay more attention to rare diseases, drawn by government incentives and the greater likelihood that treatments for what are often life-threatening or severely debilitating diseases will be successful for both pharmacos and for patients. The sidebar “Government incentives” describes some of the measures governments and regulators have introduced to encourage innovation in diseases with low prevalence2and high unmet need.
The effect has been that, in 2015, 45 novel rare disease therapies were approved by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, significantly more than the average of 28 approved during each of the previous nine years.3With sales of orphan drugs forecasted to achieve compound annual growth of 10.5 percent a year4to account for 19 percent of worldwide prescription sales at a value of $176 billion by 2020, and with typically low commercialization costs, rare disease therapies are becoming increasingly attractive and are expected to further bring transformational patient benefits.
How pharmaceutical companies with new rare disease drugs launch their products will be crucial to their success, however. For while all drug launches are complex, launches of rare disease treatments are particularly so. Usually, when a large company introduces such a treatment, it is entering the relevant therapeutic area for the first time. It is therefore likely to lack both expertise in the disease and in-depth understanding of the health ecosystem and of patients’ experience of the disease. Because the condition is rare, the launch team will have few, if any, analogs from which to draw lessons. And because the company is likely to have bought the drug from a small biotech company at a late stage of development, it might allow too little time to prepare for its launch.
To be successful, the launch of a rare disease treatment needs a different approach from the standard launch framework. This paper explains why, and describes the hallmarks of success.
Four strategic pillars for a successful rare disease drug launch
Our experience suggests that companies that launch rare disease treatments successfully excel in four areas. They show great commitment to the rare disease community, whose support is key. They use innovative methods to identify patients who need treatment. They take a highly tactical approach to patient access. And they help patients and their caregivers navigate a healthcare system not usually geared to supporting those with rare diseases. These pillars might be in place for a few launch archetypes, such as specialized oncology drugs, but the level of commitment and the tactics and capabilities needed to launch a rare disease treatment are of a different order.
Commitment to the rare disease community
Many pharmaceutical companies underestimate how hard it is to generate the insights upon which the successful launch of a drug for a rare disease depends, when so few people suffer from the disease and so few other stakeholders are familiar with it. What is the patient’s experience from first noticing symptoms to diagnosis? How many and which types of physicians might they see in search of a treatment? How many treatment centers are there, and where?
This kind of knowledge of the patient ecosystem is crucial, as it will inform every aspect of the launch: the search for patients and prescribers, securing of market access, and ongoing support of patients who ultimately undergo treatment. Those companies that have successfully launched rare disease drugs have discovered the vital role that the rare disease community—patients and their families, advocacy groups, and a small number of therapeutic area experts (TAEs)—plays in generating these insights. In addition, it is this community that will help to build awareness of the disease, including among payors. Its members are therefore crucial partners in the launch of a drug, and pharmaceutical companies must be genuinely committed to them to meet their needs.
Launch teams need to invest significant time with patients and caregivers early in the launch process to understand their journey and the barriers they might face in accessing treatment. This in itself can be a sign of commitment, but more can be done. For example, setting up a social media platform can prove valuable to patients who are geographically scattered, enabling them to share experiences and creating a sense of solidarity. Such a site is also a channel for dispersing information about an upcoming launch.
Advocacy groups, on which patients often rely as their primary source of clinical information, are equally important partners. In the absence of market research, they can be engaged to help in the development of patient databases and surveys of patients’ needs, the design of clinical trials, and in finding and enrolling patients for those trials—a task that can be extremely challenging even if only a few dozen patients are required. In return, companies can show their commitment to advocacy groups by providing logistical support for fundraising and awareness-raising activities, or by financing studies that go beyond drug approval requirements—Phase IIIb and IV studies, ISTs, and outcome registries.
TAEs too are valuable, especially in building awareness of a disease. For many physicians, dedicating time and attention to a specific rare disease is a major career choice, and companies can back them, for instance, by involving them as investigators in clinical trials.
Companies will of course need the ability to piece together the various insights they glean in order to formulate a launch plan; there is no launch blueprint. Often, it falls to senior launch leaders to “join the dots,” and this will influence the skills to be embedded in the launch team.
Patient group identification
Identifying the largest possible patient group is a lengthy task. Beyond building relationships with diagnosed individuals, advocacy groups, and TAEs, how should pharmaceutical companies go about it?
Their approach will depend on the disease. For rare diseases with low diagnostic rates, companies can work with advocacy groups to distribute free diagnostic tests. In the case of Fabry’s disease, for example, Sanofi Genzyme partnered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the United States to supply laboratories and physicians with testing kits.5Other tactics include hosting events and mounting digital campaigns targeted at educating healthcare providers.
Companies need to learn how to use every piece of information that might help them to identify patients who experience many of the typical symptoms of the disease but have not been diagnosed. Sufferers of rare diseases might by definition leave no digital trace in the form of claims codes, but they do have a medical history. Algorithms can be devised to search for de-identified patients’ claims codes associated with a given disease. For instance, patients suffering from the genetic disorder Gaucher disease might experience fatigue, a distended abdomen, low appetite, bruising, and stunted growth, and hence have accumulated claims codes for splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, anemia, or thrombocytopenia. Armed with this statistical analysis, a company’s field force can focus its visits on physicians with the highest probability of having a patient with the specified rare disease (while those with a lower probability of having a patient suffering from it can be approached through less expensive digital channels). As more and more de-identified patient data is gathered, the algorithm can be refined and improved to target more physicians, more accurately.6
Navigating patient access to rare disease therapies, key to the success of such drugs, is challenging because of their high cost. In addition to cultivating partnerships with advocacy groups and TAEs, there are three ways in which pharmaceutical companies can work to ensure patient access: by devising early access programs, minimizing the time between a patient’s diagnosis and treatment start, and helping to close potential funding gaps.
Devising early access programs to enable commercial use. These programs take various forms. “Experimental access” gives free access to study patients for two to three years prior to a treatment being granted approval in any given country. This can be extended to life even if no commercial access is granted. “Named patient access” offers early access for patients prior to a drug’s registration. And “humanitarian access” gives free access for patients in markets where a treatment is not commercially available, which will stop only if commercial access is granted.
Which countries to prioritize for early access will be shaped by the number of patients requiring treatment. But the likelihood of achieving sustainable patient access also counts, influenced by the regulatory system, the availability of alternative funding sources such as private donors, and a program’s potential to act as a catalyst to bring about reimbursed access for a broader patient population. Pharmaceutical companies’ distribution channels will also be a deciding factor. The particular characteristics of each country will determine which form of early access program is appropriate.
Minimizing the time between diagnosis and treatment start.Preparing the application for coverage of treatment fees can require a considerable effort from the patient, particularly in the United States and some emerging markets. Companies can assist patients with the paperwork and, if coverage is denied, with the follow-up process. In some countries, companies will have a department dedicated to giving this support.
Helping to close potential funding gaps. Patients’ access to rare disease therapies can be hindered by high treatment cost or the lack of specialized centers of care. To close funding gaps and facilitate specialized treatment centers’ setup and maintenance, companies might partner with third parties such as governments and private donors.
Patient and caregivers’ support
Once started on therapy, patients and their caregivers must be given sustained support to ensure adherence to the treatment. Among sufferers of rare diseases we have observed a particularly high rate of discontinuation as a result of both clinical and psychological factors.
There are several ways pharmaceutical companies can help enhance patient experience and avoid discontinuation. These include providing nursing services to educate patients on how to administer a drug and manage its side effects, and undertaking to update treating physicians on their patients’ condition. Along with social media groups designed to enable patients to exchange information and share concerns, most successful companies also set up help lines. In addition, they might offer educational resources for patients to learn about their disease and treatment.
A company can provide these support services internally or externally through advocacy groups or other third-party providers, depending on cost considerations and regulatory constraints (a direct interface with the patient is permitted in the United States but usually not in Europe, for example). We found that when permitted, providing these services internally allows for a more consistent patient and provider experience. It is important that companies monitor and refine support services continuously, as once a drug has been launched, much can be learned from patients’ experience of their treatment, including whether and why they might consider discontinuing it.
Operationalizing the rare disease treatment launch team
When it is clear what needs to be done, the question becomes how to deliver it. Much hinges on the launch team, the composition and deployment of which will be quite different from pharmaceutical companies’ standard model.
Embed a culture of cross-functional collaboration
An unusually high level of collaboration is required between members of a launch team for a rare disease treatment, for several reasons. First, there are only a small number of TAEs for most rare diseases—in some EU countries there might be only a handful. This means that if the medical, access, and commercial members of the team operate independently, they risk inundating TAEs with multiple approaches and conveying inconsistent messages. A thoughtful, coordinated strategy is required to identify and develop relationships with TAEs and advocacy groups. Cross-functional collaboration is equally important in order to join the dots between the pieces of information accrued by medical and commercial field representatives and thus to generate the patient ecosystem insights required to craft the launch strategy.
One way to achieve the required level of coordination is to put in place a centralized communication system that tracks team members’ interactions with the various stakeholders, all the various launch activities, and any key insights. Some companies enforce collaboration and coordination through appropriate incentives.
Another way to avoid a silo mentality and enforce collaboration is to make the team roles themselves cross-functional. Instead of appointing a conventional sales representative, for example, a “field entrepreneur” can be assigned to manage a given territory. He or she will develop and execute a multi-stakeholder plan that includes building and maintaining relationships with physicians and advocacy groups, engaging in discussions with local authorities and payors, and developing patient-finding algorithms. This position requires excellent strategic and commercial capabilities, knowledge of market access and public affairs, and scientific expertise.
Cross-functional roles support a successful launch
Similarly, conventional medical science liaisons can be replaced by “therapeutic area expert developers” who not only build and maintain relationships with TAEs and are able to respond to medical questions raised by prescribers, but also collect insights from the field that are shared with field entrepreneurs and other team members to shape the launch plan. Medical and strategic capabilities are therefore required. The sidebar “Cross-functional roles support a successful launch” describes the operational roles within a high-performing launch team for a rare disease drug.
Size launch teams accurately and deploy them early
As a rule, launch teams for rare disease drugs are smaller than those for more conventional treatments, and tend to be allocated fewer resources. Given the challenges associated with finding and supporting patients, developing insights, securing access, and generating real-world evidence, though, they arguably have more to accomplish. To use their resources as efficiently as possible, therefore, successful companies take great care in deciding the size of a team and how it is deployed.
Exactly how many people are needed will depend on certain factors in five areas: the disease, the regulation, the patient journey, the market access situation, and the competition level. For example, finding patients with a particular disease will require fewer resources if there is a straightforward genetic test for it that physicians can conduct. But more resources will be needed if diagnosis is harder and physicians need to be educated on how to make it. Likewise if a disease has especially strong side effects that require the implementation of a patient support program. In addition, the more treatment centers there are and the more decentralized they are, the bigger the launch team must be. In countries where early access programs are appropriate, dedicated medical capacity will be necessary early in the launch process.
What is certain is that the field entrepreneur for a rare disease will be responsible for a larger sales territory than the sales representative for a drug for a more prevalent disease. Typically, a field entrepreneur for a rare disease treatment in the United States is responsible for a sales territory worth between $25 million and $30 million. For a specialty drug (not for a rare disease), that figure is $5 million to $10 million.7In the biggest European countries—Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy—a launch team of between four and eight people with one or two field entrepreneurs is often sufficient to ensure a successful launch.
In respect of deployment, large pharmaceutical companies typically invest in building field capabilities for a standard drug launch between six and twelve months in advance at country level. Staffing for the launch of a rare disease treatment has to begin earlier, although not everyone has to start at the same time. The medical field force—that is, the therapeutic area expert developers in the cross-functional team—begin first, 15 to 18 months before launch, in order to engage with TAEs and advocacy groups and build awareness of the drug. Policy and access shapers usually start three months later to ensure they have enough time to engage with payors. The rare disease analytics and marketing experts kick off three months after that to generate detailed insights into the local patient ecosystem, while the field entrepreneurs can be deployed three to six months before the launch, just as sales representatives are for a standard launch.
In Europe, companies should take care not to duplicate the entire team in each country. Rather, resources should be shared unless specific, country-related activities need to be undertaken. Field entrepreneurs, for instance, are typically anchored at country level (and accounted for within the country P&L) in large and mid-sized EU affiliates, as they will need to engage with local stakeholders. But other launch roles that do not require specific country knowledge, such as an understanding of local regulation or local language skills, can be shared across countries, even when covering large and mid-sized countries. Small countries are mainly covered through regional hubs, whatever the role.
A further organizational best practice that helps reap economies of scale is the building of regional centers of excellence in areas such as market analytics and supply management. Their role is to build knowledge and share insights, and hence improve capabilities.
Excel at generating real-world evidence
Given the typically high price of a rare disease drug, companies often struggle to win rapid market access, particularly in Europe. Payors frequently wish to see evidence of a drug’s value beyond the data packages usually used to achieve market authorizations, often because of the low number of patients available for Phase III studies. Pharmaceutical companies which are successful at launching rare disease treatments therefore put significantly more resources into generating evidence in the real world for several years in order to strengthen the case they put to payors, often securing sustainable patient access in Europe within two or three years of European Medicines Agency approval.
The process for generating evidence is in principle straightforward. Companies first define the value of the treatment, decide what arguments are needed to support their definition of value, determine what data is needed to support the arguments, and design registry protocols, Phase IV studies, observational studies, and other vehicles to generate the data. To achieve this, an exacting level of operational excellence involving fluid and compliant collaboration between the medical, access, and commercial functions is needed.
Studies need to be devised with care if they are to yield high-quality data. Any failings in design might not become apparent for several years, especially if companies decide to delegate studies to contract research organizations. Many practicalities need to be taken into consideration to make the process work. Is the data input interface user-friendly? Are healthcare practitioners able to observe in real life the data the protocol is asking for? Are contracts with third parties structured so that incentives for high-quality data delivery across many years are aligned? And are the third parties charging a competitive rate?
Devising a launch for a rare disease treatment does not necessarily come easily even to a large, efficient pharmaceutical company, as it is likely to challenge the status quo with a new approach and processes in the cause of relatively small patient populations. Companies that have launched rare disease treatments successfully help others to understand where best practice lies. Companies aspiring to emulate this success and help solve hard medical problems for patients should scrutinize their capabilities, their highly tuned medical, access, and commercial operating models, their thinking on organizational structures, and their resource levels—and learn fast.
2017 will be the year we see supply chain digitization take off at hyper speed. While it’s been occurring over the past few years, the need for speed is important for those businesses facing profit and costs challenges. For pharmaceutical businesses, the industry is faced with not only profit and cost challenges but many other challenges including globalization, complex supply chains, increasing regulations, counterfeits, personal medicine and more. As such, the benefits of digitization can help the pharmaceutical industry to adapt in a more efficient manner.
Six of the top 25 largest global pharmaceutical companies announced the formation of Align Biopharma, a new group dedicated to setting technology standards that will make it faster and easier for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to connect with the life sciences industry. Founding members, with input from across the industry, will develop open standards and solutions for companies to streamline how HCPs get the drug and treatment information they need to deliver improved care to patients.
In ophthalmology, Allergan and Novartis, the parent company of Alcon, are members of the group.
“Common industry standards can make it more effective and efficient for life sciences companies and healthcare professionals to connect,” Patrick Retif, VP IT, Global Commercial at Allergan, said in a news release. “Working together can help harmonize digital engagement and information access across the industry and create a better experience for our shared customers.”
The rise of specialty drugs to treat complex diseases is creating a greater need for HCPs to have more timely and tailored information. As the number of new drugs increases so does the amount of information healthcare professionals require to facilitate patient engagement. There is significant potential for biopharmaceutical companies to use digital technology to inform HCPs on new or more complex treatments.
Initially, Align Biopharma will focus on developing two new standards to facilitate seamless digital engagement and simplify the HCP experience:
Identity management – definition of an identification and authentication standard to enable a single sign-on for HCPs to access online content – including websites, portals, virtual events, or webinars – across all companies.
Consent and communication preferences – definition of standards for consent and preference management so that there is consistency in how HCPs specify communication preferences with each company.
“Digital is transforming how life sciences companies and HCPs collaborate and interact,” said Paul Shawah, vice president of commercial cloud strategy at Veeva Systems. “With the proliferation of advanced treatments and digital channels, adhering to industry standards will simplify the challenges doctors face in getting the right information quickly.”
As pharma gets ready to explore social media, perhaps they should first ask patients/consumers if they want to engage pharma companies via social media as new research indicates that social media has a very low confidence among US adults.
The biggest threat to online health seekers is “trust in information”. There are a lot of sites out there that will automatically cookie users and use those cookies to serve up ads which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
Can pharma leverage social media to enable patient conversations? The answer is yes, but legal people need to stay away from coffee to allow someone at pharma to talk with patients and the FDA has to better understand what patients want from pharma companies via social media.
In the course of my research I have learned that nothing is more private than a patients’ health. Using social media to engage pharma companies is a very huge step and pharma has to make sure that the step is worth it by adding value in the patient’s eyes, not marketers.
Social media is NOT the answer for pharma at a time when all social media marketing is tanking with stories of false metrics and extremely low organic reach. Social media is part of DTC marketing, but it’s only a very small part of the pie.
Le laboratoire AstraZeneca vient de lancer
“You need to build your brand.” “Creating brand loyalty is paramount.”
As a practice, you may not think of yourself as a brand, per se. And all the constant yammering from “experts” about brand building can be overwrought. But the truth is your practice is a brand of sorts. You may be the brand that provides the most available procedures. You may be the brand that provides the most attentive follow-up care for your patients. You may be the brand that is known for rhinoplasty. You may be the source for wisdom teeth removal. Or to your patients you may simply be a brand that they trust and enjoy patronizing.
People may not think of your practice and associate it with a logo, such as a big brand like Coca-Cola, but a practice creates its own brand. And brand loyalty is important to create loyal patients. Here are a few ways to build loyalty to your practice through your Facebook page.
First off — What is brand loyalty?
Every business from hardware stores to plastic surgeons would say their ideal customer is one thing: a loyal one. Brand loyalty is nothing more than a person being partial to one business or product over another.
Before these digital days, brand loyalty grew out of a simple belief in the product. It was pretty much a one-way street. People bought Budweiser over Miller because they liked the flavor, and maybe even the company’s advertising, more than Miller.
Today, customers expect more. They often want something in return from the business or company. One way to engender that give and take is with your practice’s Facebook page. Since we’re all about the digital media world here at Advice Media | MedNet, here are some ways to use your Facebook page to build give and take…and patient loyalty.
How about a rewards program?
Consider creating some sort of rewards program, VIP club, or something similar. This may seem silly — plastic surgery or dermatology or dentistry practices aren’t like Starbucks. You don’t get a free mid-facelift when you buy a tummy tuck and two Botox sessions. But before you go off here, think about it. Maybe it’s a VIP program for those patients who have had X number of procedures. Maybe it’s based on how long they’ve been patients of your practice for a dentist.
Social media is a great way to let this group feel they’re really a part of your practice. You can announce the program on your Facebook page, along with perks that come with it. You can encourage those VIPs to post content to your Facebook page, maybe your blog (for something like a first-person before and after procedure story). You can ask the group if there is a certain new procedure they think you should add to your practice (maybe something like Cellfina or Ultherapy, maybe Invisalign).
It should be exclusive, however — not just anyone gets to be a VIP of your practice. But your recognition of their continued patronage is important to them, and that recognition builds their loyalty. Maybe you give them a free laser skin tightening, maybe free dental whitening. Maybe you have a special wine and cheese party once a quarter. Whatever. Your Facebook page is a great way to promote the possibility of every patient becoming a VIP patient.
Encourage your patients to review your practice
Research shows again and again that up to 90 percent of U.S. consumers read online reviews when making decisions about businesses and products. In the healthcare industry, this is the way potential patients seek to find a level of trust before they’ve even entered the practice.
Encourage your patients to review your practice, whether it’s a formal review on RealSelf, or just talking about something they’ve had done on Facebook. If they’re thrilled with their new nose, have them post a selfie video of it on your Facebook page. And then be sure to interact with the post from the practice side.
Don’t fear a bad review. Most people don’t trust reviews where there is never a negative word; they think the reviews are planted. But if there is a less-than-favorable review, be sure to respond to it and try to fix any issues the patient had. And then ask the patient to post about the final result.
Show them the real you
Doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers have always had a level of mystery to their offices. You can pull back the curtain with your Facebook page. Take photos of staff members doing their jobs, or just being goofy and post them to your page. If you just purchased a new laser for gum contouring, take a picture or video and tell your Facebook followers about it. If your aesthetician paints in her free time, put some of her work up on your page. If you have four dogs, post about them.
The idea is to show your Facebook followers a side of the practice they normally don’t see. That makes them feel more like family, and that keeps them coming back.
According to Facebook Health industry manager Danielle Salowski, it's the combination of reach, scale, and engagement that make Facebook and Instagram useful tools for healthcare marketers. Facebook reaches 1.7 billion people around the world per month; on mobile, it reaches more than one billion people every day. Similarly, there are 500 million people using Instagram every month and 300 million each day.
One in every five minutes on mobile is spent on either of the social media platforms, Salowski noted.“When you think about that in context, there's actually a Super Bowl happening every single day on mobile in the U.S.”
It goes without saying that marketers continue to fall over themselves to affiliate themselves with the Facebook juggernaut. There are four million active advertisers on Facebook and 500,000 on Instagram, with 98 of the company's top 100 advertisers using both platforms. While Salowski declined to share specific details about the presence of pharma and healthcare marketers, she said that opportunities for them are numerous, given the six million health-related groups on Facebook that together accommodate 70 million users.
“We're getting there with pharma brands getting more comfortable on the [Facebook] platform,” Salowski added.
Established about a year ago, Facebook Health is the social-media giant's newest industry team, comprising a mix of experts from pharma, healthcare, and digital media. It is staffed by Facebook veterans across a range of markets, including New York, Washington D.C., and Menlo Park, California.
For pharma marketers hoping to more effectively reach audiences on Facebook and Instagram, Salowski offers the following ten tips from the Facebook health team.
1. PARENTS AND BABY BOOMERS ARE ACTIVE ON FACEBOOK
Parents spend 1.3 times more time on Facebook mobile than those who are not parents.
Some drugmakers may think that Facebook is not relevant to their audience, but Salowski said that parents and users over 45 years old are actually quite active on the platform. According to the company's findings, parents spend 1.3 times more time on Facebook mobile than those who are not parents. In addition, Facebook found that 82% of its 45-plus audience said that modern technology allows them to connect with friends and family easily.
“We see new moms using groups a ton. When you think about that life stage, there are obviously lots of questions you have. You want to create a community to get answers,” Salowski explained. “We also see a lot of groups for caregivers. They have a loved one who's suffering from a certain condition and the groups become a way for them to vent.”
2. FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM: ONE PORTAL, TWO PLATFORMS
With a common advertising infrastructure, advertisers only need to create a single ad for Facebook and Instagram deployment. Photo credit: Franklin Heijnen/Creative Commons
As part of its effort to be marketer-friendly, Facebook has a common advertising infrastructure across all of the company's products. This means that advertisers only need to create a single ad for Facebook and Instagram deployment.
“All the technology, targeting, and measurements live in one portal, so it's really easy for advertisers to start using Facebook for mass global reach across variants and different products,” Salowski said.
Of course, advertisers with more flexibility can choose to tailor their ads to provide custom content for each platform.“For pharma, sometimes it can be so hard to just get that one asset approved, they may want to use that across both platforms,” Salowski continued. “What we want the brands to do is experiment, because there's not a one-size-fits-all.”
3. FEED-BASED ADVERTISING WITHOUT INTERRUPTION
Since both Facebook and Instagram are feed-based products, all advertising is integrated in the user's feed. There are no pop-ups or interstitials.
“When you think back in the day, people used to have really personal relationships with their physician and pharmacist. We got a little away from that, but we believe that Facebook can help bring that back and help pharma reconnect with people one-on-one,” said Salowski.
4. PERSONAL TARGETING AT SCALE
At a basic level, Facebook can target users by age, gender, and device, but it can target by specific interests and locations as well. “We built an interest graph where we can target people based on things they're interested in, people they follow, and pages they like,” explained Salowski. “It's not just mass marketing being bought on television. Our targeting can get to the root of more about your patient than just age and gender.”
5. START WITH A BRANDED PAGE
Building a branded page provides drugmakers with a vessel for their media content and allows them to leverage Facebook advertising's capabilities. At the same time, It can serve as a tool for drugmakers to drive business outcomes.
“Our goal is to work as a partner with [pharma companies] every step of the way and get from asset creation to talking about content strategy and helping them navigate med/legal review,” said Salowski. She points to Allergan's Facebook page for immunosuppressive agent Retasis as an example of a branded page done well.
6. UNBRANDED PAGES CAN CONNECT AND ENGAGE
AstraZeneca's Save Your Breath community for patients suffering from COPD has nearly 100,000 members.
“We've seen some brands build unbranded communities off their Facebook pages that become safe places for people to come together and connect,” said Salowski. “It's more about the condition they're suffering from.It's never actually about the drug.” To that end, AstraZeneca's Save Your Breath community for patients suffering from COPD has nearly 100,000 members.
7. BE CREATIVE WITH SAFETY INFORMATION
Bayer was the first pharmaceutical company to test Facebook's scrolling ISI capability within the newsfeed. The drugmaker is using the ISI capability on an ad for its bluetooth-enabled auto-injector Betaconnect. The ad includes a click-to-call feature that directs users to Bayer's nurse call center.
While not a new ad product, Facebook's scrolling ISI allows advertisers to layer text on existing Facebook ad units. Drugmakers can stitch together a static or video ad with a scrolling video of all the text in the ISI.
8. DRUGMAKERS CAN DISABLE COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK PAGES
Drugmakers have the option to disable comments on Facebook pages to avoid adverse event reporting. It's a change the company made with pharma in mind, Salowski noted.“There are clear ways to contact the brand that we feature. But if the user has a question or wants to connect with the company, they can do that through the page.”
9. BE IMMERSIVE WITH VIDEO
A video for GSK's meningitis campaign garnered more than 63,000 views and nearly 2,000 likes to date.
More than 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every day, and pharma advertisers who have brought their videos onto the platform have seen good results, said Salowski. In September, GlaxoSmithKline ran a campaign on Facebook to raise awareness of meningitis. One of its videos for the campaign garnered more than 63,000 views and nearly 2,000 likes to date.
Drugmakers such as Pfizer are also starting to experiment with Facebook's more immersive products such as Canvas, which combines text, links, images, and videos for a full-screen mobile advertising experience. “Canvas is a product where you can activate sight, sound, and motion to take over the entire screen,” said Facebook Health's Sachin Nanavati at Digital Pharma East in Philadelphia in October. “The average dwell time on Facebook Canvas ads is 31 seconds.”
And there's also Facebook Carousel, which allows users to scroll across several images and integrate video. “It's a good opportunity to tell a story on mobile,” said Nanavati.
"Canvas and Carousel ads are appealing because of the opportunity that additional screen space provides to display the appropriate balance of information related to our medicines and their ability to engage and inform consumers in an interactive way," said Julie Thaler, Pfizer's director of digital strategy and data innovation, in a statement.
10. FACEBOOK OFFERS CONTENT, WHILE INSTAGRAM OFFERS INSPIRATION
There are two different purposes for each platform, said Salowski. Facebook is about content discovery, while Instagram is a platform for inspiration.
“When I go on Instagram, I'm following fashion designers, beauty artists, and fitness stars – those are the people who inspire me in my life,” she explained. “You're going to Facebook to seek information. You might want news or you might want to see what your friends are up to. When you think about that from a brand perspective, brands can have it all on both, especially if you're demanding mobile first.”
Back in August, 2011, Facebook opened up comments on ALL pharma pages, which meant that the pharmaceutical industry no longer was able to shut off comments on their product-related pages. Consequently, several companies decided to shut down their pages (read, for example, "Pharma Facebook Pages Being Phased Out" and "Janssen to Shut Down Psoriasis 360 FaceBook Page").
These days Facebook offers new opportunities and tools for the pharmaceutical industry to do promotions such as disease awareness campaigns (e.g., "Novartis, Queen Latifah, & American Heart Association Team Up on Facebook Live Broadcast") and ads that comply with FDA regulations (e.g. "Bayer's Betaseron Facebook Ad Uses a New Feature: Scrolling ISI" and "Will Drug Ads "Like" Facebook?").
Meanwhile, many top pharmaceutical companies have corporate Facebook pages. The following Slidehsare presentation is an analysis and review of Big Pharma Facebook pages. View the presentation here.
- #Pharma Lacks Commitment To Do Facebook Well
- It's Time for Pharma to Get on the Facebook Brandwagon, Says @zdunnhealth
- Yo, #Pharma! You Can Do Facebook for Brands. Here's What You Need to Know.
- Poof! FB & SnapChat Offer #pharma Marketers Transient, Untraceable Messaging
- Facebook Likes Pharma. Pharma Likes Facebook. So Why Doesn't FDA Like "Likes"?
- FDA Targets Companies for Facebook 'Likes.' Is Twitter 'Favorites' Next?
Flumoji is your health wizard. Tell it how you feel and it will magically learn how to help protect you from Flu and other ailments.
This MIT study is designed to help increase awareness of the spread of flu and flu-like symptoms and educate you on how to reduce the risk of -- and help prevent -- flu infection. Your data along with other users of the app could potentially improve overall health outcomes in the general population.
Flumoji is being tested by MIT and GSK to see if it can speed up identification of flu outbreaks.
“Real-time tracking of seasonal flu outbreaks is key,” says GSK on Facebook. “However, researchers have yet to find a tracking mechanism that’s fast and reliable enough to support testing of potential #flu treatments in clinical trials.”