Online communities can be an effective channel for health

cancer_patients_thrive_onlineAccording the Journal of Medical Internet Research “Online communities can be an effective channel for caregivers, especially women, to seek and offer information required for managing clubfoot-related uncertainty. To enhance communication with parents, health care institutions may need to invest additional resources in user-friendly online information sources and online interactions with caregivers of children with special illnesses such as clubfoot. Furthermore, explorations of information-seeking and information-provision behaviors in online communities can provide valuable data for interdisciplinary health research and practice.”  So why are pharma marketers continuing to ignore the needs of online health seekers ?

According to recent research “nearly 80% of respondents participate in online groups to help others by sharing information and experiences.  41% participate in groups to be seen as someone knowledgeable. Only a relatively small percentage use networks and community to persuade others to adopt their point of view or buy a product of service.  It has long been known in the community world that community is no place for a vendor booth – it is for the exchange of ideas and not the waving of sales flags.  This is especially true as patients become consumers of healthcare and explore treatment options and costs.  In short health portals and websites are part of the information gathering but online communities can provide real value to patients as they share experiences.

community to help

Now there are some of you , as you read this, who say that “the risk is too high for us because of adverse events and other DDMAC violations but that is just an excuse.  If I could do over 10 years ago on you can do it today.  You just need to set up a system where posts are not visible until someone approves them and you need to put a disclaimer that posts can be edited for “illegal promotional content”.


If DTC marketers want to move marketing from one way communication and they want to build trust with consumers one of the best ways os to stop looking at consumers as numbers and start looking at them as customers who want and need to be heard.