It is inevitable. The time is now. It can be felt all over the Internet and even beyond its reach. The potential power of the B2B social networks has had a large impact on major industries and Pharma is no exception. As a matter of fact the medical community, like always, is one of the first to embrace technology and one of the first to be visible in social networks, even long before Facebook became a multi-billion dollar company.
In the United States, there is a sustained growth in social network memberships among physicians from 2007 to 2011, reaching more than 3 million in 2012. In Europe, Germany and the UK are spearheading global alliances. And as expected, the Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing and dominant region with 35% of the total membership among physicians.
Social networks are rapidly taking the place of traditional sources of product information – with our without the participation of the manufacturer. With reliable and readily available answers to questions and inquiries within the control of the user, the future is bright for social networks. Social content that is managed well and workflow that is optimized will play a leading role with this development. Collaborative productivity, seamless collaboration, increased efficiency and productivity, improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs – these are the keywords that will dictate the success of physicians’ social networks.
One thing to note, though, is how Pharma dislikes a regulatory vacuum. With its risk averse, authoritative and controlling nature, there will be some resistance towards the e-savvy community. However, we have seen many signs that pharma is taking an active role in being involved in e-communities for patients and physicians. The ability for pharma companies to reach numerous engaged physicians in an online forum is an enticing opportunity and has even helped fuel the growth of these networks. Not too surprising, considering the declining access trends we have seen within the pharmaceutical sales organization.
With the continued growth of physician social networks over the past 5 years, we knew ultimately there was the potential for these networks to join up and collaborate. We have already seen some early signs of this in the marketplace, and we are excited to see what might occur here in the future.
As you can imagine, the potential for convergence has been on the mind of many within the digital marketing community and the pharmaceutical industry. Digital Pharma West is planning to engage our audience in an interactive workshop session where we have some of the world’s largest physician social networks joining us to participate in a group exchange on the current trends and the potential for convergence of these networks in the future. Click here to visit our agenda for more information.