Last week I attended some research whose objective was to measure online health seekers’ attitudes towards the use of social media and BOTS for drug and medical device companies. The research was qualitative and consisted of of all demographic groups. They didn’t hold back and were willing to discuss how, why and where they go online for health information. Here are the topline results.
1ne: Everyone in the groups was active on social media with facebook being their preferred platform. However, many were dismayed that after searching for health information on facebook, or joining a group, they were being served “suggested posts” for their health condition. As one woman “I keep seeing MS groups as suggested content and it feels intrusive”.
2wo: Groups said they would NOT use social media for health information, but rather use it to share others experiences in living with a chronic health condition or specific treatments.
3hree: Everyone was not happy with the use of BOTS. When they want to interact with a brand, company on social media they want a real person to interact with them. When the moderator explained the complex regulations that define drug company interactions on social media the vast majority said that “well, they shouldn’t be there if they can’t talk to me!”.
4our: We also found that some people do not want to use social media at all for health because of both privacy concerns and being reminded that they have chronic health conditions.
5ive: Surprisingly, we heard a lot of people who said they were “tiring” of social media. The reasons were everything from “too many ads” to “too much fake news”.
Even though there is anger at high drug prices the groups still believe that today’s pharma products are responsible for people living longer and healthier lives. There seemed to be more anger expressed at insurance companies which they see as dictating treatment options via higher co-pays. They want help from others to “navigate the system” and often that involves social media.