Using the Internet to reach doctors, numbers don’t matter. What you have to say and how you say are more important.

SUMMARY: Several online providers promise that they can reach physicians with your message, but I would argue that numbers are only important if they can be measured against key brand objectives. Ask your target audience what THEY use and how they use it to understand each platform’s relevance.

 According to research from HealthLink Dimensions, more than a third of physicians reported using social networks to communicate with their professional peers, and 59% said they see the value in social media and plan to use it as a resource in the future. But what about websites targeted at physicians like Sermo, Medscape and Doximity?

Physicians have the same online habits as most of us. They usually start their day with and prioritize what needs immediate attention and what can wait. They then go to both general news sites before logging into a medical website. It has been my experience that the number one site physicians tend to utilize day in and day out is Medscape.

When I asked several physicians “why Medscape,” there were many reasons, but the common point among all of them was familiarity. They have their Medscape home page set up the way they want and need, and they know how to get around the site to find the information they need. Think about this for a moment. If, tomorrow, your favorite news site changed the usability with a new interface, would you really have the time to relearn how to find what you want?

Pharma HCP managers must also triage their messages to physicians. If the message is promotional, there is a high likelihood you will get a poor response, but if the message contains important updates, it is more likely to be read. We tested a message that pulled key important label copy from a 24-page product label. It had a phenomenal success metric, and a majority of the audience download the complete product label.

What about social media?

I’m not sure if social media I the right tool unless it’s a direct query from an HCP. Docs don’t like pharma listening in their conversations to one another, and they really don’t like leaders intervening in their conversations if it’s too promotional. On the other hand, we did make a thought elder, who worked on clinical trials of a cancer drug, to take questions from other physicians about those clinical trials. However, it was a logistic nightmare because legal and regulatory had to monitor the conversations.

When it comes to social media there are a lot of numbers about HCPs using social media but you need to go beyond the numbers.

Finally, after the storm of the pandemic, many doctors re suddenly overwhelmed with patients. Some are tired and in need of rest, while others need help understanding patient needs. Pharma has a LOT of information on these topics and should make it available to physicians. For example, what are the health conditions that most patients have put off due to COVID? Have patients been more/less complaint, and how should we advise them on the importance of staying on therapy?

When using the Internet to reach doctors, numbers don’t matter. What you have to say and how you say are more important.