Leveraging ePatient Communications

As social media in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry becomes more widespread, a growing trend is ePatient communication. The internet has become the go-to source of information for many people; that holds true as they research diagnoses, check up on current research, and connect with others for support.

Citizen bloggers, with a particular diagnosis, educate themselves,  and are a key source of information for others with a similar diagnosis. In the digital age, where nearly everyone has a smartphone, these “man on the street” blogs offer a personal voice, answering questions and addressing areas of concern, as well as offering support. Patient bloggers, read by a wide range of patients and caregivers, can be a key source of internet buzz, when they offer a review or opinion on a new therapy or drug treatment option. Pharmaceutical companies can network with these bloggers, gaining both a platform for patient marketing, but also a window into the concerns and trends patients notice.

Pharmaceutical companies may also choose to interface directly with their epatients. UCB, the Belgian pharma giant, sponsors microsites for patients to log in and share personal stories, as well as Facebook pages and YouTube channels to engage their epatients. They see this as a non-traditional market research option that allows them to rapidly gather data from their patients, allowing swift market shifts that give them the opportunity to capitalize on what their patients say they want.

Company websites, created for patient communication and education provide an invaluable source of information, both for the patients and for the pharmaceutical company. Direct patient contact provides an unfiltered, honest opinion on current research and perceived research gaps, as well as personal testimonials on how new treatments and pharmaceuticals are affecting daily life for patients. One of those companies is Roche Diagnostics, makers of insulin pumps and diabetic testing supplies like the Accu-Chek blood glucose meter. They started the Roche Diabetes Social Media Summit, an annual event where they invite diabetes bloggers to company headquarters to brainstorm on how they can work together to deseminate information on diabetes. Additionally, Roche Diagnostics sponsors one prominent Diabetes blogger, provides funding for Diabetic community outreach and maintains Facebook and Twitter pages. They post to their own blog, as well as maintaining a presence on several major Diabetes support blogs.

As the number of people turning to the internet for information on medical information and pharmaceutical innovation and research, the need to connect to ePatients, both directly and through bloggers, will become more important. Communication and relationships with these ePatients continues to drive the pharmaceutical market, shaping the industry for years to come.  Our annual ePatient Connections conference taking place this coming September discusses this, and many other key trends going on in ePatient communications and we hope you are able to join us at this unique event.

CATEGORY: Healthcare
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