KEY TAKEAWAY: False information is a problem with social media so much that Facebook is trying to stop false news stories at the sources. But what about all the bad information when it comes to healthcare? In most cases, it’s consumers who are left to sort out what is true and what is false, but we all suffer when it leads to a patient not getting help on a small problem that can lead to a huge medical issue.
Only 7% of social network users have provided a review of pharma products according to Wave researc h and while that is a low number it’s still significant given the number of people who use social media.
However, we need to look beyond the numbers for how people use social media for health. Rodale found that the top uses for social media and health information were information about a medical condition (55%) followed by reviews and ranks of doctors (38%). In other words, consumers are not necessarily going to use social media to comment about a specific drug or treatment. However, there is considerable risk if pharma continues to ignore the conversation.
While it does seem that some pharma companies are indeed starting to embrace social media the biggest stumbling block seems to be that damn ROI bug which dictates everything that pharma marketers do.
So the real question becomes are consumers and patients making decisions based on social media comments? My belief is no, they are not. They are however using social media to paint a big picture of health information and online treatments.
While I am a huge believer in using data supported marketing I also understand that marketing dynamics vary by health condition. People, for example, do not use the internet for health the same way when searching for information about cancer say versus allergies. It also depends on whether a user is checking information based on a visit to their health care professional or is using the information to decide whether or not to visit their physician. Then there are the people who go online to search for information on Rx’s they have just received and then deciding whether or not to fill and take their medications. This is why physicians, when writing an Rx for patients, need to ask patients if they have any questions or concerns about the treatment. I have said in the past that physicians should be able to print drug information in the office for patients so they can read it before they leave the office and ask about potential side effects.
Social media is becoming a more important part of the conversation and decision making around health care treatments, but I do not believe that a lot of patients believe what they read on social media when it comes to treatment reviews. However, that being said pharma still needs to decide whether they want to be part of the conversation or continue to remain on the same legal and regulatory side lines.