According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research “the use of social media applications may be seen as an efficient and effective method for physicians to keep up-to-date and to share newly acquired medical knowledge with other physicians within the medical community and to improve the quality of patient care. Future studies are needed to examine the impact of the meaningful use of social media on physicians’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors in practice.” But the question is when are they supposed to have the time to use social media and where can they use and be assured of privacy ?
Medicine, like the Internet, is moving quickly as new drugs are developed and approved by the FDA but what works for one patient may not work for another patient and provide better outcomes. I recently, for example, talked to a physician who trying to get a patients cholesterol under control after failing in three treatment options. She eventually found the answer on the Internet but she said it took her over two weeks to both find the time and talk to her colleagues.
In research with physicians this year I found that there is a real need for a platform community where they could share information provided that the community information was not mined for marketing opportunities. One physician detailed how he had some questions about a certain cancer treatment and found two sales reps in his lobby to talk about their treatment to help cancer patients restore basic labs. ”It took me some time to put 2 and 2 together but when I did I was not happy” he said.
Pharma and medical device marketers need to be facilitators of conversations among healthcare professionals. There is a real need and this is a great opportunity to add value to HCP’s who just don’t have the time to spend hours researching treatment options and questions. Again a huge door with the word opportunity is awaiting someone to knock and open and ask “what if….?”