An interview I did recently for an organisation conducting some research into the future of social media use by the pharmaceutical industry prompted me to remind them, and myself, that we should not talk about pharma as a single homogenous beast when it comes to such digital engagement.
The fact is that there is a vast differential across the sector in terms of how social media is being used, ranging from those organisations with no active channels to those that are using multiple platforms for active engagement with doctors, patients and everyone else with an interest in healthcare.
In the conversations I have with pharma personnel, most fall into the camp of either already using social media or wanting to use social media but not knowing where to start or how to use it effectively. But, for the most part, both groups understand the benefits of using it.
However, there is a third group who, while they may be interested in social media, misunderstand what it can deliver for the industry and other healthcare stakeholders. You can normally identify them by their use of a three-letter abbreviation that sounds the death knell for social media in pharma – ROI.
Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely on camera.
Box is a project that features projection mapping on a moving object beautifully choreographed and performed live. A fusion of technology, Optical Art, and a choreographed stage performance, the complexity of this video is truly incredible. While we’ve all seen projection mapping before this one takes it to a whole new level .
Arguably the most profound benefit of investing time in your organization’s Google+ page is the increased presence in Local results. Most patients are searching for organizations within a reasonable proximity – we call that Local Search – and these solutions are often pursued from a mobile device. Local search is incredibly important because it enables brands that wouldn’t normally rank on the first page to receive optimal positioning due to its location – and thus, its likelihood of providing visitors with a satisfying solution to their query.
Benefit 2: Innovative Ways to Engage
Google+ allows people and brands to interact with followers in ways Facebook and Twitter can’t. For example, a Hangout is essentially a video chat session, but unlike Skype, it can be accessed within Google+. No downloads are necessary.
Helpouts, an extension of Hangouts, is a pretty cool feature that recently launched. It allows individuals or brands to help people in real-time. While most Helpouts are available at a cost, some brands are making representatives available to help an audience for free. Banfield, for example, offers real-time pet wellness information, covering a wide variety of topics. Not only does this educate an audience, it also strengthens the brand perception and public relations. I’m sure there are already human healthcare brands taking advantage of this new level of commitment and transparency. It will be exciting to see how Helpouts continues to unfold and affect the way we seek solutions......
Benefit 3: Patient Advocacy
As more people turn to search engines when seeking health care, organization and physician reviews have increased in value and in quantity. Google takes many factors into consideration when serving results, so while a portfolio of pristine reviews doesn’t guarantee you a top-ranking position, it certainly helps the cause. Among the many ways your organization can manage its reputation through Google+, we recommend asking patients to contribute their feedback.
Benefit 4: Community Interaction
What separated Google from other social networks from the start was the ability to group people into categories, or circles, and thus filter what you share with specific groups. Similar to that mindset are Google+ Communities, groups of users that share a similar interest or profession. Healthcare brands and professionals are carving out new areas of interest, while simultaneously spreading innovation and connecting with other brands and patients.
The “Healthcare Glass Explorers” community, for example, discusses and shares the many ways Google Glass is changing the world of healthcare.
You could be excused for not noticing the $2bn acquisition of Oculus Rift VR by Facebook recently – particularly in light of the fact that this deal was dwarfed by Facebook’s purchase of the instant messaging service, WhatsApp, in February for a staggering £19bn.
However, this news signified something more than just another big tech deal.
If you don’t know (and I can only imagine your embarrassment if you don’t!) Oculus Rift VR is a company pioneering virtual reality (VR) technology. The “Rift” – the abbreviation for the kit the company makes – is a headset that enables the user to be immersed into a 3D environment where, by simply by moving their head, they can change their viewpoint a full 360o.
Sounds pretty straightforward? I have witnessed many people – from a group of my daughters’ friends to the CEO of a blue-chip company – trying on the headset for the first time and the response is always the same: “WOW!” To prove that this kit is not just for geeks, one of the developers of the Rift recorded a video of his 90-year-old grandmother taking a virtual tour of a Tuscan villa with the headset and posted it on YouTube (over 2.2m views at time of writing). She sums it up well: “It’s so real! If I ever explain this to somebody, they won’t believe me.”
And while the big name is most definitely Oculus Rift, Sony announced just a week before the world learned of Facebook’s latest acquisition that it too was joining the virtual reality party with a development called Project Morpheus, a VR headset that it is looking to deploy alongside its PlayStation gaming platform. There are also rumours that Microsoft is looking at creating its own VR apparatus, presumably to complement the Xbox system.
Technology just for gamers?
Virtual reality has always been viewed as the domain of gamers. In fact, the gaming community is, on the whole, upset about the fact such technology has been bought by a body that sees its potential outside of gaming. Markus Persson, the designer of the game Minecraft, said when learning of Facebook’s involvement: “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal.”
So what’s the relevance to healthcare, you might ask?
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, admits that the initial appeal is in gaming but, in the announcement on his website, looks to the many other opportunities this technology might afford us: “We’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.”
James Crowson, a developer of a VR “Game of Thrones” experience, wrote recently: “I’m sure that it’s going to play an important part in the bridge between technology and health, for example, using exposure therapy to treat people with phobias such as acrophobia.”
In fact, VR is already being used in the treatment of several conditions. Dr Albert Rizzo, associate director for medical virtual reality at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, works with VR in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2003, Rizzo utilised assets from the Full Spectrum Warrior game to create a virtual combat environment where various parameters, from the weather through to certain elements of scenarios such as an insurgent attack, could be managed by clinicians to enable treatment to be paced and within a controlled environment. The resulting “game”, Virtual Iraq, is used by military medical centres and veterans affairs clinics in the USA. Recent studies indicate that this type of therapy, where VR is employed in the treatment, is effective in significantly reducing PTSD symptoms.
According to a paper by Annette Mossel, a lecturer at the Interactive Media Systems Group at Vienna University of Technology, VR can be used to rehabilitate amputee patients receiving prosthesis. Talking of this advancement, Mossel said: “No other technology offers a way to realistically mimic the real world while providing the user with an intuitive environment. Our recent medical VR training tool demonstrates this in a great way, since the patient has the possibility of realistically learning how to control his/her prosthesis even if the prosthesis is not yet manufactured.”
Currently, experts at Iowa State University are developing VR tools that will help surgical students gain valuable experience with a scalpel without having to cut into cadavers or living subjects. The three-dimensional VR programme simulates both human and animal anatomy and recreates the surgical experience better than almost any existing training method short of the real thing.
The major implications of Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift VR and the news of Sony’s Morpheus project are twofold: this technology will undoubtedly be available quicker and in a less expensive format than previously expected; and that VR is not just for geeks and gamers.
Virtual reality was always a promise, a great concept without any base in available technology. Until now, that is. It just got real – well, virtually real.
Dom Marchant (@DJMSolutions) is Managing Director of DJM Digital Solutions
Virtual reality will soon be actual reality at Facebook, as the social network announced its acquisition of immersive virtual reality technology company Oculus VR -- maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset -- in a deal worth about $2 billion.
DJM LABS Time - each month, we work on a project where there is no brief, no client and no clear objective other than to experiment with new technology. This is our investment in innovation; our R&D. In March, we produced a short projection mapping video in the car park of our offices in South West London.
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