Pharma needs agility
I would like to share through this manifesto a view that is my own, as a digital marketer working in the industry. This is therefore not a company position.
If I can notice a department where we are clearly behind regarding the requirement of the digital channel, this is the marketing and commercial operations. New technologies are pushing the boundaries of what internal marketers can do.
This task has been externalized to agencies, lighter to digest the amount of new trends in the digital era. Somehow, the different topic I am covering next would need the pharma players to internalize them, or at least to know clearly how to deal with them in a good way
Social media is not a trend,
it is a standard
Patients are online users consuming other media and services from others industries.
Therefore, while the health information is one of the most searched and discussed, when it comes to social media services, it is a bit blur on best practices.
First of all, I believe we should help pharma players with a template of internal guidelines for social media, that can be tweaked with the company vision or the brand essence when required. This will help pharma companies to ensure not spending time closing groups of discussion started by employees, and avoid having individuals sharing views on the behalf of the company on public spaces.
These guidelines should be also covering what sales reps can and can’t do. I saw lately some initiatives going in that direction for Twitter, but we should extend this to a broader view. I also believe that social media plans are too often initiated with not knowing the full impact on the structure of the teams required to make it work. Social media is a conversation that starts, and never ends. Or if so, there is a next dialogue taking place somewhere else.
This is the very reason, pharma players should have a check-list knowing if they have all the strength to deal with it, even if they have an agency helping. Also, often what we try to achieve is already out there. We should try to be a strategic partner to patient group, helping them raise their voice.
This will then force us to imagine new innovative services, while helping them manage the content and the conversations. From my experience in different industries, social media can be a tremendous game changer, but now more than ever, it requires a lot of resources.
The pressure from other industries in the web experience is pushing pharma players to step-up their game and we don’t have room for failure anymore. The good news is that a lot of cases studies can help us understand what patient and physicians expect. This is leading me to another topic maybe even more important than the presence on social media itself. Listening to the web is critical to prepare a good presence. Knowing what is missing, and providing meaningful solution is what we should do all the time. Like market research before launching a product, it can take a lot of efforts to listen to the web, but it is worth it as your digital strategy will become more accurate. For a long time, we were scared on adverse events collation through the web.
Thanks to the new updates from the code of conducts, this aspect is clear. I would like still to stress the fact that some platform are a bit complexe to monitor, due to the way patient interacts on it (Twitter is a good example).
We should also be more precise of what is an adverse event on the web, as a lot of identification data are missing to really report complete cases. Ideally, monitoring should be guided, helping pharma players to know how to setup their radar by platform, by disease topics (treatment, symptoms, brand name) and how to deal with adverse events (shall we take what is the SMPC or broader?).
To finish on social media, I think we need to differentiate a one-to-one communication to the one-to-many communication. As in a website, if somebody requires information on a sponsored social media platform, it should be clear that what the code is asking us to do with email addresses, form and the 24h answer window. I just wanted to share my view on the subject, and I am of course please to discuss about it. I am facing every day these challenges and I do believe that this is together that we can push the boundaries of our creativity, for the benefit of the patient and the clinical practice.
Towards Prescribing apps?
With more and more mobile users, health apps are growing fast. With different goals, some of them are designed to help you get a better output from your treatment by following advices, monitoring symptoms or answering questions.
Who should review the accuracy of the code behind? I think we will see an increase of tech start-ups running into the quantified-self movement, or health connected object. If perceived as gadgets, they could be soon impacting the behaviour of patients, and interfering in the diagnosis from physicians. Should doctors prescribe apps then? We do have patient support programs and they could be the missing link for the data accuracy.
We should be part of this as we are strategic partners of physicians, and not let web pure players take the lead, like they did with the telecommunication sector. We see now Google and Apple creating phones, apps and providing even the signal.