Tag Archives: Pharma

Build it & they will come

Social Media, by David Hunt

Of course they will come. We’ve sweated blood, sweat & tears to establish our social media governance. We’ve aligned all our internal stakeholders, agreed our polices & opened the doors!! We’re big pharma & they’ll be delighted to talk to us!!

To launch a social campaign requires effort, ambition & conviction. Ironically, the internal campaign required to launch a social media initiative can consume the energy necessary to drive external engagement. In essence, the internal customers can take precedent over external. The product of this dilemma is often, “Where are the interactions? Where is the engagement? Where is the community?” It’s not enough to simply open your doors, you need to build an engaging presence.

Content is King, or so we are told. However, without context & relevance we are simply pushing messages via a new platform. We all see & publish countless updates that are neither liked, retweeted, repinned or shared. And they should, they’re good. However, they’re most likely not relevant to the viewer, or the viewer is not relevant to us. To overcome this, content strategy has to be more agile. It should respond to search & community trends and the evolving interests of peers – to be relevant we must be current. Beyond this, distribution should use expert community management & intuition vs. a pre-determined timeline – to be relevant timing is critical.

There are those in society who talk solely about themselves, their agenda, their opinions. They are typically tiresome & isolated, with a hint of arrogance & belief in their own self-importance. I have a community of family, friends & peers. I’m happy to respond, engage & participate in their stories – we have genuine, balanced relationships. Pharma HAS to work harder in being a member of the community. A social endeavour must have a framework to participate & build an engaging presence – to be interesting we must be interested.trapeze

Sadly not everyone likes me. Like everyone there are those whose company I enjoy, those I don’t. Online is no different. In pharma communications we need to work harder to find peers with whom we can form mutually beneficial relationships. With limited time & effort we could identify 100 new & valuable online acquaintances. We can see their bio, online footprint, sentiment & areas of interest. As we build our presence we can, we can build these relationships. Taking time to listen, engage & discuss – to deliver ROI we need to be social. 

The Pharma Obligation to Social Media

Social media debate, by David Hunt

The patient population is at our finger tips. Technology has provided a broader platform to witness their frustrations, build lasting relationships and work collaboratively to improve outcomes. The pharma industry invests billions in the development of new treatments; they are bold, courageous and imaginative in the pursuit of scientific excellence. Yet, with a few exceptions, remain anxious, nervous and paralysed in social media. The changing environment demands industry innovation and outcome based funding. If science will be at the heart of that drive, social must be the catalyst.

Fear of a brand name?
We invest millions in building a brand, yet remain terrified of its mention in public. Of course, we cannot publicly announce our treatment and associated scientific benefits, and yes we have an obligation to ensure it is not miss-represented either positively or negatively. But are we really at fault if a member of public chooses to discusses our brand in a fair, valid and experienced manner? We live in a free world, and an increasingly global community, we must engage if we have valuable information & insight. Do we not have a moral obligation to respond with valuable insight? Why would we leave Wikipedia with data we know to be inaccurate, when it’s widely considered to be the first point of reference? The vast majority of the general public are wholly unqualified to comment on disease, symptoms, side effects or treatments, but do so with the vigor of a grand-parent championing chicken soup. We have the knowledge, rigor and expertise to harness valuable patient experiences, real-life events and dialogue to support broader society.

But what if we came across an adverse event?
What if we don’t? We all have an obligation to report adverse events. Beyond the rules there is a moral obligation. Many months ago I witnessed a psychiatric nurse discussing how, with appropriate permissions, they monitored patients on twitter – AMAZING! If the NHS can find the time & resource to use social media in such a smart fashion, then big pharma must follow suit.

We’ll be accused of #badpharma and dishonesty!
That is true whether you participate or not. I’d advocate participating and whilst you would never directly challenge an individual, voicing your position to a broadly smart community can only be more positive.

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The approval process takes too long.
Social media is not just publishing content. It’s about listening. It’s an opportunity to hear from patients. It’s about understanding challenges & frustrations and working to address them. That alone is worth embracing the social world. It isn’t a fad, it’s been around since society – the playing field just got bigger.

 

As I often discuss, I’m proud to work in pharma. We make a difference, and we improve outcomes. Scientists & their amazing work will be at the heart of that success, but with the necessary courage communications experts can be the key.

 

The death of traditional consumerism: what does it mean for pharma?

HAVAS Worldwide’s latest paper, The New Consumer & The Sharing Economy, outlines a growing sentiment against over consumption. Seven in ten of us believe it to be putting our society and the planet at risk, and the majority feel that current models of consumerism are not sustainable. More than this, we feel weighed down by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ we own.

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Put simply, we’re tired of consumerism and bored of adverts that try to manipulate us by pushing products at us like they’re the answer to life’s problems. We want to be in control, we want to be able to make informed decisions about how we spend our time and money and we don’t want others telling us what to do.

This goes for healthcare as much as consumer markets. Patients no longer expect to merely be prescribed a pill that they unwittingly swallow down once a day and hope for the best. Facilitated by an abundance of information technologies, they are knowledgeable about treatments and want to be actively involved in managing their own health care.

The wealth of monitoring apps across treatment areas (AsthmaCheck, MoodPanda and Diabetes In Check are but a few) is a fair indicator of a general desire for information and authority regarding personal treatment regimens. For financially hamstrung public health providers such as the NHS, this is a welcome trend. Empowering patients with greater control of their treatment reduces the burden of care placed on public providers, and has the potential to garner much better results by actively engaging patients.

So where does pharma fit into all this? The patent model and subsequent relationship with healthcare providers has always followed traditional models of consumerism; ‘we are a drug company and we’ve produced this drug which you can buy from us’. So how can we who work in pharma support and facilitate patients’ desires for greater inclusion and authority in their care and still turn a profit?

Firstly, we need to reshape our relationship with the people we serve. Pharmaceutical companies can no longer act as vendors and must become partners to professionals and patients alike. In doing so, we need to provide solutions, not pills, and increasingly this will mean delivering holistic services and systems of care. ‘Beyond the pill’ solutions are an arena in which there is massive potential for pharmaceutical companies to add real value.  At HAVAS LYNX we’ve worked on a series of patient care programmes that have been shown to half the number of days patients spend in hospital.

When pharma partners its expertise with other parties, it opens up a world of new revenue streams. Start-up accelerator organisations such as Healthbox are stimulating the sort of innovation and collaboration that pharma should be looking to more and more. Even amidst the context of Pfizer’s efforts to secure the acquisition of AstraZeneca, pharma companies need to look beyond traditional development pipelines when seeking to expand their offering.

We need to innovate past the sector mainstream and recognise outsider trends, much in the same way that Facebook is making moves to expand beyond social by purchasing of ProtoGeo. There are so many exciting and disruptive technologies being developed that have the potential to transform the lives of patients. Far more than offering supplementary revenue, these areas that currently lie on the fringes of the market are likely to be the mainstay of pharmaceuticals in the future.