Pharma needs agility
I want to share through this manifesto a view that is my own as a digital marketer working in the industry. This post is my view, therefore, not a company position.
If I can notice a department where we behind regard the digital channel requirement, 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 number of new trends in the digital era. Yet, somehow, the different topic I am covering next would need the pharma players to internalize them or at least to know how to deal with them appropriately.
Social media is not a trend,
it is a standard
Patients are online users consuming other media and services from others industries.
Therefore, while health information is one of the most searched and discussed when it comes to social media services, it is a bit blurry on best practices.
First, 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. For example, this will help pharma companies to ensure not to spend time closing groups of discussion started by employees and avoid having individuals sharing views on behalf of the company in public spaces.
These guidelines should also cover 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 too often start with not knowing the full impact on the structure of the teams required to make it work. Social media is a conversation that begins and never ends. Or if so, there is the following dialogue taking place somewhere else.
This complexity is why pharma players should have a checklist knowing if they have all the strength to deal with it, even if they have an agency help. Also, often what we try to achieve is already out there. We should try to be a strategic partner to the patient group, helping them raise their voice.
This approach will 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 huge game changer, but now more than ever, it requires a lot of resources.
The pressure from other industries in the web experience pushes pharma players to step up their game, and we no longer have room for failure. The good news is that many case studies can help us understand what patients and physicians expect. This point leads 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 presentation. Knowing what is missing and providing a meaningful solution is what we should do all the time. Like market research before launching a product, it can take a lot of effort 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 of adverse events collation through the web.
This aspect is straightforward, thanks to the new updates from the code of conduct. However, I would still like to stress that some platforms are a bit complex to monitor due to how patients interact with them (Twitter is a good example).
We should also be more precise about an adverse event on the web, as many identification data are missing to report complete cases. Ideally, monitoring should be guided, helping pharma players to know how to set up their radar by platform, by disease topics (treatment, symptoms, brand name) and how to deal with adverse events (shall we take what the SMPC or broader is?).
To finish on social media, we need to differentiate one-to-one communication from one-to-many communication. As in a website, if somebody requires information on a sponsored social media platform, it should be clear what the code asks us to do with email addresses, form and the 24h answer window. I just wanted to share my view on the subject and am pleased to discuss it.
Towards Prescribing apps?
With more and more mobile users, health apps are growing fast. With different goals, some of which are to help you get better output from your treatment by the following advice, monitoring symptoms or answering questions.
Who should review the accuracy of the code behind it? We will see an increase in tech start-ups running into the quantified-self movement or health-connected object. They could soon impact patients’ behaviour if perceived as gadgets, interfering with physicians’ diagnoses. Should doctors prescribe apps, then? We do have patient support programs, which could be the missing link for data accuracy.
We should be part of this as we are strategic partners of physicians and not let pure web players take the lead as they did with the telecommunication sector. Instead, we see now Google and Apple creating phones and apps and providing even the signal.