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3 Reasons why medical affairs professionals need to be savvy with social media.

The worldwide reach of social media has changed how people communicate. Social media platforms are becoming the go-to source for communication.  Patients are more likely to share their medication side effects, such as the itchy rash they got on their butt or the achy joints that prevented them from playing golf with friends, on social media than to their doctor. Social media channels not only have the potential to act as a way of reporting adverse events but also help companies understand the wants and needs of patients.

Therefore, with the ever-increasing importance of patient centricity and personalized medicines, more and more companies are relying on social media to provide them with answers. These are just some of the many ways that companies are leveraging social media.

1.  Creating a truly patient-centric approach

“There has been a lot of talk in recent years of a need to increase patient-centricity within the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, there have been many great steps towards a more patient-centric approach, and a greater recognition of the value of patient choice and the need for increased self-management across healthcare systems” (Rees, Sumira, & Morton, 2018).  However, to put this into practice companies must provide patients with the necessary tools and education. Companies are now relying on data from social media sites to help them learn how to provide patient-friendly information.  “Listening to social conversation can add layers of insights. Online conversations can uncover valuable insights about the audience, whether this be patients, healthcare professionals or key opinion leaders.” (Rees, Sumira, & Morton, 2018)

[caption id="attachment_2000" align="aligncenter" width="845"] Figure 1 Sciformix Corp. “The Impact and Use of Social Media in Pharmacovigilance”

2. Product Vigilance (PV)

In a whitepaper by Sciformix, “social media has the potential to become an added new-age tool to monitor data in real-time, making it an early indicator of potential safety issues for further investigation. Further, this would enable companies to generate more robust product safety profiles by leveraging the additional social media information” (Sciformix Corporation).

3.  Clinical trial recruitment

According to Medrio.com, “Social media has the potential to be a powerful tool in the clinical trial recruitment process because of its low cost and ability to reach a diverse and broad audience. In 2014, Facebook boasted over 1.2 billion monthly active users, Twitter had 255 million, LinkedIn was at 187 million.  These numbers outweigh the traditional recruiting numbers in every way.  This capability is something that one-sided print/TV ads or even clinician/patient referrals cannot provide: access to diverse cultures, age groups, gender, and income levels” (Medrio, 2015).


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References

Medrio. (2015, August 6). Using Social Media to Recruit Subjects in Phase I Clinical Trials. Retrieved from Medrio: https://medrio.com/blog/using-social-media-to-recruit-subjects-in-phase-i-clinical-trials/

Rees, N., Sumira, D., & Morton, A. (2018, June 13th). The Patient Journey. Retrieved June 19, 2018, from PM LiVE: http://www.pmlive.com/pharma_thought_leadership/the_patient_journey_1239641

Sciformix Corporation. (n.d.). The Impact and Use of Social Media in Pharmacovigilance. Retrieved June 19, 2018, from Sciformix: https://www.sciformix.com/wp-content/uploads/Social_Media_in_PV_Whitepaper.pdf

World Pharma News. (2017, October 9). Social Media in the Pharmaceutical Industry. (SMi Group) Retrieved June 6, 2018, from World Pharma News: http://www.worldpharmanews.com/events/4139-social-media-in-the-pharmaceutical-industry