The conversations of online communities

action on rxIf pharma companies do not join the digital dialogue and influence the conversation, they will lose an opportunity to shape it, and they may be put on the defensive trying to refute the statements made by those that do take part.

70 percent of patients who are online in the United States use the Internet to find healthcare information, and more than 40 percent of people who diagnosed their condition through online research had it confirmed by a physician. Patient’s arm themselves with information about product safety and efficacy gleaned from websites and online communities, but is pharma part of that conversation?

For some, the act of logging onto a computer network and having a conversation with someone you have never met seems utterly foreign, but these are often the same people who will happily chat up a stranger in the grocery line. Nearly 80% of respondents participate in online groups to help others by sharing information and experiences, and 66% participate in a professional community to belong to a group of colleagues and peers. 41% participate in groups to be seen as someone knowledgeable.

Nearly all reported that they participate in online networks and communities for educational purposes and to learn about topics. .This demonstrates the growing importance of online community as an educational platform for experts to show what they know and for information seeking to find the insights they seek.

stuck in past

There is a huge difference between listening to the conversations in online communities and actually taking an empathetic point of view to interact with these people who are looking for health information.  Pharma has two options; they can participate in the conversation or use the internet to bring people together to help each other.  Both strategies have risks, but rather than be put on the defensive and left out of the conversation pharma needs to rethink how to become part of the conversations in a meaningful way.