HCP’s use of social media: the good and the not so good

SUMMARY:

  • A survey of more than 4,000 physicians showed that virtually every physician uses social media for personal reasons, while two-thirds use it for professional reasons.
  • 86% of diagnostic device companies, 65% of pharma marketers, and over half of biotechs use social as a critical part of their marketing mix to reach HCPs.
  • Doximity was flagged for having anti-vaccine information.
  • HCPs don’t necessarily want pharma trying to sell products via social media.
  • The best approach is to use social media to connect HCPs to clincial information and drug trials.

According to Live World, “a survey of more than 4,000 physicians showed that virtually every physician uses social media for personal reasons, while two-thirds use it for professional reasons, a number that is growing higher every day; in fact, HCPs are joining social media platforms in their professional capacities at the same rate as non-HCP users. And while HCPs have their own “walled gardens” for private discussions and virtual “Grand Rounds,” they use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Reddit to connect in their professional capacities as well. 

The annual MM&M/Deloitte Healthcare Marketers Trend Report showed that 86% of diagnostic device companies, 65% of pharma marketers, and over half of biotechs use social as a critical part of their marketing mix to reach HCPs.

According to Sermo, two-thirds of physicians spend at least an hour on social media, with an average daily use of two hours and twenty-two minutes. HCPs are also connecting more than ever: one study showed that HCP posts about healthcare increased from 10% in 2013 to 50% in 2019.

In just five years, 75% of the workforce will be millennials, which means a changing healthcare and social media culture.33 Even now, nearly 70% of all HCPs are digital natives. Most HCPs go to Medscape as a “first stop” in the morning to get their healthcare news.

Reaching 730,000 physicians and 1.9 million other healthcare professionals worldwide, including medical students, residents, nurses, and more,45 Medscape is the largest news site for HCPs around the world, 

With over a million members, Doximity is the largest professional medical network in the United States, including three-quarters of all U.S. physicians, 90% of fourth-year medical students, and 45% of all nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants are issues.

According to CNBC “doctors on the industry networking site, Doximity are finding their news feed inundated with anti-vaccine comments from fellow physicians”. A leading physician said, “it’s baffling to peruse Doximity’s site and find the type of misinformation that he expects to see on Facebook and YouTube, where conspiracy theories run rampant“.

Unfortunately, the Live World report mixes statistics from non-healthcare marketing and does not address the key challenges for marketers. For example, Millennials HCPs have less trust in pharma claims and often want to see more data around product claims. Most HCPs also don’t want promotional pharma initiatives mixed with their social media. They also don’t like it when social media platforms mine their data to sell to pharma. But there are still a lot of opportunities.

Social media is best when it’s used to connect people. We have used social media to sponsor “ask the thought leader” and to share clinical data. We have had regulatory and legal people monitoring, so we don’t go outside regulatory guidelines, but it has worked well even in an archived chat.

Social media targeted at HCPs is also a great way to educate physicians. A leading pharma company recently sponsored a series of Q&A around the use of their new cancer drug. The HCP team came away from the chat with new issues that needed to be addressed.

As for ROI, most social media targeted at HCPs are more than willing to measure engagement. In one case, we had the social media site follow-up with HCPs who attended an online seminar to ask if their opinions around the drug had changed. Most said it had, but they still wanted to know more.

HCPs rely more on their laptops and tablets, but the last thing they want is pharma busting down the door to sell their products. Millennials value engagement over sales talk and want to build relationships with pharma companies that return their trust.