According the the Journal of Medical Internet Research “OHCs are a powerful tool to address some of the challenges chronic care faces today. OHCs help to facilitate communication among professionals and patients and support coordination of care across traditional echelons, which does not happen spontaneously in busy practice.” So the question becomes why isn’t pharma using OHC’s more ?
Mention developing an Online Health Community to most pharma companies are you’re likely to get a lot of reasons why “we can’t do that” as opposed to reasons “why you should do that”. If I was able to develop an OHC 10 years ago while working at a conservative midwest pharma company it can be done. Here is how to make it happen..
(1) Ensure that you have a clear objective for the community and that people can share and read real information from others.
(2) To eliminate risk anyone who posts in an online community should be required to register which includes eMail verification. However their personal information should never be disclosed to others within the community and you should make clear that you are not collecting ANY personal information.
(3) There should be a disclaimer advising posters that, because of FDA requirements, some posts may need to be edited for content.
(4) Once someone has been verified and posts information their post should be held in que until it has been reviewed by your MLR people to ensure that there is no off label promotional activity.
(5) To keep the conversation going posters should have the option to read follow up comments from others.
(6) You can easily set up an approval process entirely online so you don’t have to wait for weekly MLR meetings. Remember the Internet is about users not your processes.
(7) Listen to what is being said by people within the community and remember that for every post there are probably dozens more who have the same concern who are not posting.
(8) Share the information you learn with physicians so they better understand patients concerns and can address them before hand if necessary.
Remember that one of the biggest strengths of the Web is bringing people together to share information. While we are indeed a regulated industry it is still our job to help patients make the right healthcare decision not to sell them on products that may not be right for them.