Social media plays an increasingly important role in the marketing and communications plans for pharmaceutical firms.
Trends point to patients and healthcare professionals using social media to research, communicate and influence buying decisions. There are already examples of pharmaceutical firms who are already successfully using social media.
However, many firms have been waiting on the sidelines waiting for guidance from the regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In response to the industry’s request for guidance, the FDA has been busy coming up with some. Over the last 6 months, it has released 3 draft guidance documents for social media.
This is a fast-changing situation with the FDA widely expected to release final guidance on social media very soon.
Acknowledging the keen interest in this area, on July 10th the FDA delivered “The Social Media Draft Guidance Webinar”. The slides for the webinar are available on the FDA’s website.
There are a few recurring points running through all the pieces of FDA guidance, namely:
Communications must be balanced, accurate and non-misleadingThe closer to the creation or adoption of the content, the more likely a firm is responsible for that content.There is no “one-click rule”. Risk information should be given equal prominence to benefit information, regardless of space constraints.Direct hyperlinks to risk information and/or FDA approved labeling may to be provided from the message, update, ad or tweet as a means to learn more about the product.Organizations must capture and preserve full and proper recordsSocial media communications need to be properly retained, preferably in context, in a format that preserves interactive linksFull metadata such as author, date, etc., also needs to be archived
What is clear is that the FDA means business when it comes to the conduct of pharmaceutical firms on social media. Firms can expect to be held accountable if these standards are not met. Even before the draft guidelines were released, the FDA already demonstrated that it is closely monitoring pharmaceutical firm’s use of social media. This is illustrated by the warning letters issued to firms it believed had used social media inappropriately, for example:
Failure to reference risk about a drug on a Facebook pageWarned for “Liking” a consumer’s comment on its Facebook drug pageFirm warned that its Facebook Share widget does not provide adequate risk information
With the key guidance on the use of social media from the FDA widely expected to be finalized in soon, there is a real likelihood that the FDA will increasingly step up its monitoring program and impose sanctions on non-compliant firms.
However, in response to this recent guidance, we may begin to see more firms explore how they can use social media to build brand awareness, facilitate communities, even drive revenues. These firms need to take thoughtful steps in order to deploy social media compliantly, including, making sure communications are balanced, accurate and non-misleading as well as taking steps to monitor and preserve real-time communications.
Check out these compliant social media guidelines from the FDA:
Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (December 2011)Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarking Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics (Draft Jan 2014, Final expected July 2014)FDA Draft Guidance for Industry Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)FDA Draft Guidance for Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)
History just might repeat itself when it comes to Apple's HealthKit. If the tech giant triumphs in the healthcare marketplace, it would be yet another example of it perfecting a nascent technology that its competitors had brought to market first.
Third parties receive personal health information from more than 90 percent of visits to health-related websites, according to research to be published in the March 2015 issue of Communication of the ACM.
A new study by a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student finds about 70% of about 80,000 health-related Web pages allow third parties to access data on which specific "conditions, treatments and diseases" users looked up on the sites, raising...
Social media has fundamentally transformed the way human beings interact and gather new information.
Referral MD pulled together 24 statistics on how social media has impacted the healthcare industry using a number of different sources, including Search Engine Watch, Mediabistro and Institute for Health.
Here are the 10 of the statistics:
1. More than 40 percent of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.
2. 18 to 24 year olds are more than twice as likely as 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions.
3. Ninety percent of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks.
4. Thirty-one percent of healthcare organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing.
5. Nineteen percent of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types.
6. From a recent study, 54 percent of patients are very comfortable with their providers seeking advice from online communities to better treat their conditions.
7. Thirty-one percent of healthcare professionals use social media for professional networking.
8. Forty-one percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific physician, hospital or medical facility.
9. Thirty percent of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47 percent with physicians, 43 percent with hospitals, 38 percent with a health insurance company and 32 percent with a drug company.
10. Twenty-six percent of all hospitals in the United States participate in social media.
Mobile tools, such as text messaging, can help boost adherence in global chronic disease management, which can lead to improved health and more cost-effective care, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
If you think young people are the only ones ready to embrace telemed technology and healthcare social media, think again! It might surprise you to know that the 60 + demographic of patients in the U.S.
Everywhere you turn, digital dominates. Articles across the Web proclaim its importance in marketing strategies, and now, digital marketing is unavoidable. Why? Its benefits and ease of use are too great to ignore. But let’s get a little more specific. When it comes to healthcare marketing, why does digital matter?
In this article, we’ll discuss three key benefits of integrating digital marketing into your promotional strategy taking into account customer demands of the healthcare sector.
Before we get started, take a look at these impressive statistics:
77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo51% of patients say they’d feel more valued as a patient when doctors use social media, blogs, and other digital engagement outlets72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past yearBehind using search engines and checking email, the #3 activity people do online is search for health information
Customers and potential clients demand your presence on digital channels, but what’s in it for you as a healthcare marketer?
Unlike traditional marketing channels, digital marketing allows for the optimization of individual campaigns while the programs are live. Instead of sending out one message to a broadly targeted audience in say, a television, newspaper or radio ad, you can tailor your messaging according to keywords, devices, interests, locations, demographics and more. Digital programs also give advertisers the ability to adjust targeting techniques at any time. For example, a company started a marketing campaign to target woman age 30-50 for their cosmetic procedure. Shortly after the campaign launched, the company realized a better target for their procedure is males over the age of 65. Unfortunately the company has already bought TV and Radio ads on stations targeting women. Digital platforms allow companies to adjust their target criteria in real-time so that there is no wasted budget. Much like an investment portfolio, digital channels allow advertisers to "invest" budget in areas that perform and eliminate underperforming campaigns. Does radio, print or TV provide that capability? Once an ad is printed, filmed or recorded, there is no opportunity to make improvements or adjustments.
Your audience is online, and as such, you should already be engaged in digital marketing. At the very least, you should be strongly considering adopting a digital strategy. Google Think surveys found that 76% of patients were using hospital websites for research, compared to 32% using TV, 20% using magazines and 18% using newspapers.
With the ability to closely monitor digital campaigns and act on real-time metrics and feedback, medical marketers can see better returns on investment.
The mobile market is growing at an incredible rate. In fact, this year eMarketer predicts that worldwide smartphone penetration will reach two billion. Google research has already found that roughly 1/3 of patients use tablets or mobile devices on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments.
The statistics below only go to show mobile’s rising prominence in the healthcare industry:
Of patients who found physicians and private practices on their mobile devices, 44% scheduled an appointment (Source)Year-over-year (2012-13) the number of consumers using mobile devices to search for healthcare services increased 22% (Source)52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones (Source)
You’ve no doubt figured out by now that mobile should be a priority when it comes to your healthcare digital marketing strategy. Luckily, most digital marketing platforms will allow you to target users by device. Just make sure that your ads and landing pages are optimized for mobile devices, or you may end up doing more harm than good.
As part of the healthcare industry, you know that in any situation, everything can change at the drop of a hat. New market research makes your campaign irrelevant? Marketing budgets get slashed? Management isn’t sold on your execution strategy? This can mean big trouble if you’re dealing with prepaid campaigns and/or advertising programs that can’t be paused immediately.
With digital marketing campaigns, these crises are easily averted. The freedom and flexibility offered by digital advertising methods are invaluable! There’s no need to pay weeks or even months in advance, and you have complete control with the ability to turn these programs on/off with the click of a button.
Healthcare digital marketing is no longer a suggestion. It’s a requirement. Customer demand for digital is constantly growing and the benefits of a digital strategy far outweigh its disadvantages. At this point, it’s a no brainer. Digital marketing matters, and in order for your healthcare practice to be successful, you’ll need to meet patients where they are: online.
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