Featured panelists at ExL’s annual Digital Pharma East conference this week included practicing physicians, vocal ePatients, social media gurus and digital marketing consultants with plenty of hours logged in big pharma boardrooms.
Amidst jokes about the red tape constraining pharmaceutical marketing efforts in online social platforms were insights into where the industry should move to better incorporate social media, mobile, and digital content into marketing plans.
Kerri Sparling, a type I diabetes patient and avid blogger stressed the importance of using tactful, personable communication to influential ePatients when canvassing them to write and advocate new therapies, as well as to address issues pertinent to a company’s agenda. Her ePatient manifesto also drew upon the insight that pharma companies should focus less on creating online communities themselves, but instead should join existing, neutral platforms that promote honest, healthy discussion, as opposed to excessive, disjointed efforts that usually result in lax participation, tepid dialogue, and an eventual decline into one more digital desert.
An informed panel of physicians gave their often convergent points of view on how they use mobile and other technologies in making decisions in prescribing medicine. One of the common opinions expressed was that although it is good to have access to drug information on a mobile platform (not only for the physician’s reference but for the patient’s as well), the physicians preferred face-to-face interaction with pharmaceutical reps so that they could engage and ask questions directly, and to simply enjoy the human element. This preference jibes with a recent report suggesting similar physician preferences.
One of the conference’s keynote speakers, Sinan Aral, a Professor of Informatics, Operations & Management Sciences at NYU’s Stern Business School, spoke on what makes online content viral; using social media to change behavior; and what to make of the huge quantity of data that social media platforms are generating. He stressed the importance of the development and use of apps such as pregnancy tracking and pill reminders as a way to effectively cull data for marketing and research purposes. In this context, Aral also referenced the Quantified Self movement and the enormous amount of data this movement represents, as a growing number of people begin to measure different aspects of themselves, using trackers and mobile devices in an effort to gain further understanding of the world within the body, and what such self-studies suggest about the world outside.
These are just a few examples of some of the pockets of wisdom embedded at Digital Pharma East. Let us know if you attended the conference and if so, what were your takeaways?