Filed under: social media | Tags: facebook, healthcare, marketing, physicians, s&r communications group, sermo, social media, twitter, web 2.0, youtube
The S&R Communications Group Social Media Survey was conducted on July 20, 2009, via SermoTM, an online community for physicians. The purpose of this survey was to gather information about the personal and professional use of social media by physicians. The survey was administered to 102 physicians and was directed at physicians in the specialty areas of family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry. The survey contained 18 questions on various topics that ranged from basic demographics to use of specific social media sites.
One of the most important pieces of information gathered with this survey was not a surprise: Some physicians do use social media professionally.
Who uses it?
Of the 79 respondents (77.5%) who reported using social media professionally, 72.2% were 25 to 35 years in age. (The other 27.8% were 36 to 55. No one over the age of 55 participated in this survey.)
How do they use it?
Like any other tactical tool, social media will not be effective for every physician or every situation. The majority of respondents reported using social media to connect with physicians within their specialty (87.3%), to connect with physicians outside of their specialty (64.6%), to connect with colleagues they trained with (54.4%), to connect with medical school alumni (53.2%), and to connect with key opinion leaders (21.5%).
Interestingly, only 2.5% reported using social media to connect with patients, which suggests that physicians do not see social media as a viable means of communicating with patients. Why is this?
Perhaps the answer lies in the benefits respondents see in or their reasons for using social media professionally. Because the majority of physicians see social media as a means of gaining professional information, it is reasonable to expect that very few respondents would use social media as a means of communicating with patients. Plus, respondents, even those who reported not using social media professionally, reported that the 2 largest downsides to using social media professionally were issues of privacy (69.6%) and legal concerns (52%). Other downsides included concerns over credibility, time requirements, the impersonal nature of social media, and incongruence with their ideals of being professional.
At the moment, physicians must be careful about interacting with patients via social media. However, social media presents the opportunity to satisfy the demand for more immediate information and to correct mistakes quickly. Doctors already use non–face-to-face methods like letters, phone calls, etc. It may only be a matter of time before social media falls into this same category.
What can we learn from this survey?
As the world of pharmaceutical advertising is changing, we have to change with it. This survey confirms what we already knew: Social media will play an important part in pharmaceutical advertising. This survey indicates that social media is a source for information for physicians, so we know that we have the opportunity to create a place where we can build relationships with physicians while rapidly providing education, information, and the ability to interact with KOLs and other physicians.
In fact, more than 50% of respondents reported that they would be in favor of additional social media designed for better professional interaction with patients and other healthcare professionals.
As they always have, physicians are turning to their colleagues for information, and you have a responsibility to your product to participate in this conversation and ensure that accurate, factual, and complete information is being presented to the physicians who are seeking out that information.
Contact Wayne Dunlap (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a full report.
Filed under: physician, social media | Tags: facebook, healthcare, new york times, patient education, physicians, s&r communications group, social media, twitter, web, web 2.0, youtube
There is an interesting discussion going on in the blogosphere surrounding a New York Times piece from last month titled, “Medicine in the age of Twitter.” It talks about the time constraints of physicians and how in the world of the internet and instantaneous media, a physician can provide offline consultation to patients when time is at a premium.
The piece was written by Dr. Pauline Chen, who is a proponent of social media interaction with patients. She states,
There continues to be anecdotal evidence regarding social media’s potential to strengthen the patient-doctor relationship. “One way I see that power is through education,” said Dr. Christian Sinclair, a physician for Kansas City Hospice who has created a palliative care network through his blog and Twitter. “I can help to inform the public, I can put the knowledge I have out there. And if there are patients or families who need this knowledge, I can help them because of this network.” Dr. Sinclair has, for example, helped individuals he has met through Twitter connect with local hospices, a process he believes was expedited by Twitter’s particular platform.
Obviously there are numerous positives and negatives to taking the patient-doctor relationship offline. But it would be interesting to see which type of physicians and patients were pro or against. You would assume that early-adopting or younger physicians and patients would be more in-tune with the changing outlets to medical information (61% of patients go online for health information). But the conversation developing at the Well Blog begs to differ. Some of the highlights are below.
“I am a physician and find the concept of augmenting patient care through social networking idiotic. Facebook, Twitter and similar venues are not an appropriate place for the sensitive nature of a patient physician encounter.”
“My doctor is not on Twitter (but he is on e-mail with me) but I do see a huge value in social media–as a rare disease patient, I’ve learned a lot from other patients and their lived experiences, and sometimes taking that knowledge into the exam room (or an e-mail) can really help us sort through decisions about treatments.”
“Initially, I was reluctant to communicate via email with patients; being an old-school internist it was seen as too impersonal. I’ve since changed my mind, and now wholeheartedly endorse electronic communications.”
“Outrageous. I can’t get my doctor to return a phone call, and yet he has time on his hands to gossip on the Internet and exchange tweets.”
“This piece and the MD postings are excellent testimonials confirming the 2006 WSJ HarrisInteractive research showing that 75% of patients want more access to their doctor online, while 75% of physicians don’t. What is missing from this commentary is that the options are not limited to Twitter or Email or Facebook.”
What do you think? Weigh in on the NYT or here.
Filed under: advertising | Tags: ad, advertising, agency, bigpharma, brands, creative, FDA, healthcare, marketing, mashable, Medical, pharmaceutical, s&r communications group, social networking, tv, twitter, web 2.0, youtube
Okay, I have a confession to make. Two, actually. The first is that, in the spirit of recycling, this post is an adaptation of an article I wrote for Talent Zoo late last year. The second is that despite having been a copywriter for fifteen years and a creative director for ten more—running my own eponymous and award-winning agency for five of those years and for the rest working at some pretty well-regarded agencies (by my industry’s standard, at least) in five countries—some ad types reading this might say that I’ve never quite fully managed to actually get into advertising, really.
You see, the fact is that those twenty-five years were spent in medical advertising. And not in the making of those boomer-disorder TV spots that everyone loves to hate—there’s still some fame (or infamy) in that. No, they’ve been spent devising the printed sales aids and journal ads and patient education leaflets through which the pharma industry seeks to persuade your physician to prescribe its products as the cure for what ails you, at any given time.
Now, while medical advertising used to be a fabulous generator of income (days long gone, by the way), it has never been regarded by the ad industry as a generator of high-profile creative executions.
Notice I say executions and not ideas; I firmly believe that this arm of the business has been as fecund and fruitful a hothouse of great communication ideas as any other—just too often obscured by graphs and tables and complicated words in the headline. Nowadays, though, I’m no longer as sure of that as I used to be. Frankly, we’ve had the stuffing regulated out of us. Especially those of us who’ve been at it for a while.
It used to be that medical creatives could feel good about themselves, amongst themselves.
We had our own award shows that sorted the wheat from the chaff, and we could look smugly down our noses at simpletons selling soap powder and sugar water, knowing that we were helping to keep the smartest folks around properly informed about up-to-date ways of treating cancer, cardiac disease, and chronic whatever. We felt like the intelligentsia of advertising and our victories were accomplished through the crafting of ideas; through metaphor, storyline, and okay, admittedly, sometimes even hyperbole. Never mind that our more glamorous industry-mates might think we were dorks. We knew a good idea when we sold one. Masters of nuance, we could weave sophisticated arguments from raw clinical data and infer advantage despite a product presenting a Package Insert (upon which all claims must be based) of mind-numbing parity with its competitors. Well, we’ve had that bashed out of us and then some.
The very idea of an “idea” is now anathema to the FDA, and many big pharma companies have outsourced risk assessment to ex-FDA consultants whose job it is to say “no” to everything and strip value from their client’s communication efforts.
And get paid handsomely for doing so! Ironically, and luckily for the pharma industry, this comes at a time when the medical advertising creative workforce has never been so well trained, contextually experienced, adept at its craft, and simply dying to do something special.
As usual, it’s the young ‘uns that are leading the charge. A client once told me that there would come a time that “one’s experience counts against one.” I’ve been battling with that for a while, tilting at the abovementioned windmills, but I think I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, or some other reassuring cliché. Heretical as it may seem, I’m starting to believe that everything old is new again. After all, if all the creatives and all the customers and all the clients are thirty-something or younger (at least, those with any sort of authority), then all the archetypes are up for grabs. If the medium is the message, then the message is new.
YouTube and URLs wash away the sins of the past. Everything’s a mashup, fresh, immediate, and potent as ever. Sample Aesop’s fables in Flash and voila, you’re golden. And why not? After all, our genes are millions of years in the making. Originality? Oh, please. As long as it sells, baby. As long as the client is happy and it sells. And who’s to say that each time an idea is revisited in this way it isn’t executed with more refinement and, conceptually speaking, more appropriately applied? I think that this is very often the case.
If my confession sounds disgraceful, let me offer this up in my defense: I have the privilege of presiding over a tremendously talented creative department full of enthusiastic, fresh-faced young copywriters and art directors who never fail to amaze me by the brilliance and breadth of ideas they put up on the wall for every assignment. Often, the most apt of these involves a metaphor, and occasionally I have seen similar ideas before, maybe twenty years before. But I’m sure I only thought they were original then because I was too young to know any better.
I think it was T.S. Elliot who said that everything’s been done, it’s only the combinations that change, (someone else probably said it before him, right?) and the older I get the more I concur. Change the combination, change the medium, change the culture even, and you change everything. I increasingly find that those metaphors steeped in cultural relevance, those “old” ideas, are the ones the clients like the most, that undeniably float to the top in market research and that the physicians relate to best. Faced with success like that, me casting aspersions on their vintage can seem like sour grapes. It can suck enthusiasm from the building. I’m really trying to stop doing that. So, if the current regulatory climate precludes developing narratives of cutting-edge novelty, we always have the classics, and thank goodness. I’ll settle for sales, and keep my ego out of it. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say.
Filed under: social networking | Tags: online, physicians, social networking, web 2.0
Although physicians have the same desired end result, it doesn’t mean they react to the same tactics. When marketing to physicians, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking they’re all alike. Though some might think of physicians, particularly older, as non early-adopters to new technology, the opposite may be true.
A report released by Manhattan Research titled “Physicians and Web 2.0: Five Things You Should Know about the Evolving Online Landscape for Physicians” describes how physicians are using Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, podcasts, and online communities, for professional development and networking.
According to the report
• 300,000 physicians use blogs for any reason and 25,000 are actively using them for professional content.
• More than 100,000 physicians are listening to professional content via podcasts.
• 245,000 physicians post professional content online or participate in online communities with other physicians.
Read the full report here.