Weber Shandwick Health has partnered with Pharmaceutical Market Europe to produce a new study Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma, which explores how global pharmaceutical companies are using social media today to engage key audiences.
The study examines in detail the specific challenges that communicators face in developing and executing social strategies, and identifying how professionals are overcoming these barriers.
“Patients are increasingly harnessing the internet to gain knowledge about health conditions and even self-diagnose, leading to a more empowered health consumer and more informed patient-physician conversations,” said Laura Schoen, president of Global Healthcare, Weber Shandwick. “In this new age of participatory medicine, pharmaceutical companies must start by understanding what health communities want and then use digital technologies to reach them with information that meets the demand and takes into account applicable regulations in their markets.”
A key finding from the study is that regulatory restrictions are no longer the primary barrier to social engagement, with pharma marketing and communications executives reporting that they are challenged to a greater extent by socialising their strategies internally, instilling social media confidence in their teams and aligning the right resources.
“As social channels become increasingly important and quite frankly, unavoidable, pharmaceutical companies are no longer waiting for regulatory bodies to clarify what they can do,” says Stacey Bernstein, director of Weber Shandwick’s US Digital Health Practice. “Today, the biggest barrier for authentic pharma engagement in social media rests in the need for better internal alignment and understanding of the medium. We need to build social confidence within pharma.”
The research consisted of 12 in-depth telephone interviews with senior in-house pharmaceutical executives responsible for social media decisions. Interviews took place in Europe, the United States, Asia and Latin America.