Pharma social media is a hot and rapidly-evolving topic. Blogs, social networking sites, wikis, mobile apps, and other social media platforms are becoming increasingly important venues for sharing information in a variety of sectors. The pharmaceutical industry, with its constant flow of new products and events, is no exception. As we move past the midpoint of 2011, I thought it might be interesting to reflect upon some pharma social media trends that have emerged throughout the year. This will help us solidify our understanding of the current state of the pharmaceutical industry, as well as make projections for where it is headed.
The recent proliferation of mobile health technologies within the realm of pharma social media will empower the average Joe to make better decisions about his own health. Thanks to a plethora of smart phone health apps, patients can now check their symptoms, make self-diagnoses, find better treatment, and keep track of their lab results and medical records. Doctors have increased access to pharmaceutical information and thus are better able to make accurate matches between drugs and patient symptoms and histories. Doctors can also monitor their patients from remote locations, which makes everybody happy because the need for office visits and hospitalizations is reduced. As smart phones and tablets become cheaper and more prevalent in our society, mobile health technologies will improve the quality and frequency of pharma social media communications.
The commenting changes that Facebook announced in May represent another trend in pharma social media: increased dialogue between pharmaceutical brands and patients. Facebook users will soon have more power to “talk back” to pharma and OTC brands. Effective August 15, the “whitelisting” privileges that were originally granted to many pharma and OTC pages will be enjoyed only by approved pages representing a prescription drug. Consumers will suddenly find that they can comment on or “Like” things that many brands post to their walls. While brands will still be able to remove offensive comments, this pharma social media change still promotes a freer flow of conversation between the pharmaceutical industry and its consumers.
As a result of this increased communication, the demand for pharma social media monitoring should continue to grow. The pharma industry needs cheap, thorough, reliable monitoring services because it is so important to be aware of what patients and physicians are talking about. Most of this monitoring will likely occur on specialized networks that target specific audiences. These pharma social media platforms are potentially more useful than Facebook because they make it easy for patients and healthcare providers to find the exact information that they are looking for. Over time, I hope that all this pharma social media monitoring will help the pharma industry figure out ways to better serve its customers.
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