Archive for October, 2010

When is digital strategy not digital strategy?

I want to pick up a bit more on the closing remark from my DigiPharm Europe 2010 posts. If you recall, I said:

To survive in this landscape, Pharma must make inroads into developing a digital strategy – and by that I mean integrate your digital tactics into your overall strategic plan, and at the same time, generate and maintain internal buy-in by developing a corporate digital strategy that integrates digital into the fabric of your organization’s culture and operations.

Although I work on the agency side myself, this is something that I face every day – My agency is full-service, so we integrate strategy with digital as well as traditional medical communications and we employ a range of highly skilled staff to satisfy that requirement, so there can be a challenge of enlightenment with regards to the uses of digital as a means to communicate with some people internally. Its a balancing act, and there is always resistance from those who don’t see the value of these channels or those who are set in their ways, unwilling or unable to move from their comfort zones. I approach these individuals with a mix of elucidation (e.g. demystifying microblogging), training (e.g. the concept of information architecture and the process of designing and developing a web project), encouragement (setting up a LinkedIn profile is a start) and information (circulating good examples of digital communication); all mixed in with the ol’ Jacobs Charm(tm).

For Pharma, the challenge is greater, as we have to layer on the regulatory and legal aspects (not to mention the challenge made by the boundaries of geography, where regulatory jurisdiction hinders us at every step!). For Pharma marketers wanting take advantage of the rich digital opportunities out there, it can be a daunting and frustrating task. However, with a bit of perseverance and the right inclusive and encouraging approach, it is achievable even in the most conservative of companies to gain buy-in from key stakeholders.

As a strategic thinker, its important to consider digital in your corporate, franchise and brand strategy, but I want to make absolutely clear that the phrase ‘digital strategy’ is a misnomer when it comes to a communications plan. When we consider the use of digital channels or tactics, we must also remain mindful that these are tools within the communications plan to serve the strategy, and not to replace the strategy. Pharma marketers need to be very clear that using a digital tactic will achieve those strategic imperatives. We all love iPhones, gadgetry, social media, interactive games and multimedia – but we must also make sure we take a step back and think – will this suit our needs? Or will we be better off with a simple or traditional print tactic?

Still having trouble? There are loads of great agencies out there who can help. Get a recommendation, throw a stone or ask me.

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 7

Here’s my final post on the #DigiPharm narrative. Part 7! Again, I am reporting on selected sessions from Day 2, ones that I found of note or interest. You can read the twitterstream for more information on the presentations not covered here.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Still friends
First up after lunch was John Mack of Pharma Marketing News detailing to us Europeans the new rules for new media: a funny thing happened while waiting for FDA guidance. Waiting on the FDA is ‘Waiting for Goduidance‘; apt, considering the FDA hearing was October 2009. 70 presentations at the FDA hearings came from stakeholders, and interestingly the stats show that industry service providers made a large proportion of those presentations. Mack thinks that they are ‘pushing Pharma outside of the social media envelope‘. In addition, because of the first-come first-served basis, the share of voice for patients and HCPs was much reduced from previous hearings (1997).

From a survey taken by his readership, Mack explains that Pharma parses into different categories what they are accountable for and what they are not according to the way the funds have been given/spent (grants, paid content, display ads). Interestingly, around 45% of Pharma responders said that Pharma should be accountable for the content even on sites they do not have direct control of (funded by grants). There are also mixed views on accountability with regards to correcting third-party misinformation, with 12% of Pharma suggesting that all off-label information should be corrected by Pharma and 49% of Pharma opining that no corrections should be mandated on third-party sites.

Regarding space limitations, most responders to the survey did not know if space limitation is a problem in Pharma online communication, and therein lies the challenge: how do we make 140-character messages meaningful to the patients in addition to fair and balanced? Mack focused one of his infamous ‘Mack Attacks’ on the Race With Insulin Twitter page featuring promotional Tweets from Race driver Charlie Kimball on behalf of Novo Nordisk (although a picture of the two smiling together may indicate they are still buddies – not sure where Kimball’s hands are though!). A big thing for Pharma are Adwords and search results (around 40% of US Pharma’s online spending budget says Mack), and because Google was losing the Pharma revenue, they piloted and presented a solution for prescription drugs that included a fixed warning of 60 characters, a link to more information and a fixed landing page in the headline.

So where is the draft guidance? Mack predicted that we will get guidance by the end of October, but the FDA will produce and roll out draft mini-guidance documents over time, the first of which, he predicts, will be concerning space limitations. However, he says, that hasn’t stopped Pharma diving into social media, although there have been problems around mishandling (citing sanofi-aventis’ VOICES page being assaulted by a patient who suffered permanent hair loss from the chemotherapy Taxotere, resulting in the comments being turned off). He concludes by suggesting that the greatest mistake for an online pharma initiative is to not have a crisis plan.

Following the presentation, Mack sat down for a panel debate with Chandler Chicco’s Sam Walmsey, taking questions from the floor. Walmsey asks why he is so critical of the industry, and he admits that he “…doesn’t make a living by telling people what they are doing well, he leaves that up to awards ceremonies (it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it?). But do ‘Mack Attacks’ help Pharma? Responses from the floor suggest that they do, but it does involve a headache of lawyers (I believe that is the collective noun), Gary Monk recalls individuals who received a Mack Attack and this significantly increased their Twitter following.

The right measurement
A quick note about the presentation from Preston Hennington of PR Newswire on building your brand using multimedia. I didn’t really take much away from this, but when he was talking about using free online tools to track sentiment, buzz and influencers (such as Social Mention, Twitority and Twitalyser), it rang alarm bells. I feel strongly that these free social media tools should be used with caution, especially when interpreting the results. You are better off spending some money and getting it right!

I expect in 2040 we will all have cell towers grafted on at birth
A brief mention here of the Mobile presentation from Hedwig Scheck of GSK. Frankly I found there is nothing new here (considering my avid interest in mobile), but of note some responses from the floor from questions: most of the room are thinking about launching an iPhone app, but only a handful actually have done so. Also of note is that sanofi-aventis has unveiled an iPad and iPhone app glucometer with add-on hardware and GSK have developed an iPhone app for the German market to help allergy patients. She predicts that by 2011, more than half of brands are expected to use between 5 and 25% of their marketing budget for mobile marketing. My thoughts are that Pharma should be careful of focussing too hard on iPhone specifically to the detriment of Android – consider that Gartner predict by the end of the year it will become the number 2 mobile operating system (after Symbian and above BlackBerry and Apple). There are, of course costs associated with Android, considering the breadth of handsets and the fragmentation of the operating system. We should also be mindful of the new operating systems due: Windows Mobile 7, MeeGo (Nokia’s new smartphone OS) and Bada (Samsung), plus the launch of a number of app stores.

Microchips and pills
Next up is connecting patients and physicians to treatment outcomes in the digital era presented by Todd Stephens of Merck Serono. He starts by asking: ‘Which of these three can you do well?

  • Product leadership
  • Operational excellence
  • Or customer intimacy?’

It is difficult to move focus from one to the other, or indeed to get a balance. He says the problem currently is that Pharma needs to choose the technology they invest in three to four years in advance. There is a displacement in timelines between technology development, application of that technology, legal and regulations and roll out. Indeed, the choice of technology is relatively redundant to payors, as they are focused on outcomes, not technology: ‘Drugs are not reimbursed if they are not proven to improve treatment outcomes‘ A question: will we be looking for reimbursement of medical apps? Interestingly, Stephens implies that Merck Serono are working on a mobile compliance tool in endocrinology.

So will adherence/compliance be the next important topic in digital? I say this is one part of the patient story. With the rise of mobile help or hinder this? Will Mobile compliance apps be the way forward or, as Stephens alluded to, will ‘intelligent medicines’ as being trialled by the NHS be the way forward? More questions to debate.

The end? Not by a long run
Here endeth the narrative from DigiPharm Europe 2010, but looking back at the presentations, data, case studies, demonstrations and discussions, I can’t help but think that these are challenging and exciting times in the Pharma industry. I for one am encouraged by the growing effective use of digital technology and channels, and at the same time worried about the potential direction this could take. I think two things have become very clear from this conference:

  • There should be some discussion and agreement on regulatory issues with regards to digital and to social media in particular, and this discussion should focus on the global nature of the internet and therefore consider the cross-boundary nature of how the drug industry should be regulated.
  • To survive in this landscape, Pharma must make inroads into developing a digital strategy – and by that I mean integrate your digital tactics into your overall strategic plan, and at the same time, generate and maintain internal buy-in by developing a corporate digital strategy that integrates digital into the fabric of your organization’s culture and operations.

Thanks for reading!

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 6

So here’s the penultimate part of this week-long series. Today I am focusing on the morning session of Day 2 of DigiPharm 2010 and the concluding blog post tomorrow will cover the afternoon session. I will not cover every presentation from Day 2, just the ones that had impact with the audience.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 7

One-way Code
First up on day 2 was Heather Simmonds from the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), who is responsible for administering The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) Code of Practice. Simmonds stressed how important it is to follow the code of practice, even if may seem out of date (2008 was the last update). She quips ‘”Heather said it was OK” does not trump the ABPI code of practice!’.

Her advice is that ‘if you put your head above parapet, consider how you will defend what you’re doing if you have to – if a complaint is made‘. She also says that even if embarking on an educational campaign, Pharma should treat everything as promotional unless you can clearly show that it isn’t and that many EU States consider every piece of information from Pharma to be classed as advertising. I’ve often experienced this from a medical education standpoint when providing educational materials for a launch product – the materials were treated and scrutinized exactly the same way as a promotional detail aid and a journal advertisement.

With reference to the relevance of codes of practice to digital and social media, Simmonds states that in the EU, self-regulated Pharma codes of practice are media-agnostic. The ABPI Code has planned updates in November, but will be limited in scope (requirement to provide unsubscribe link in emails). She says that they know Pharma wants to use social media, but are not clear about what that use would be. The ABPI plan to first issue ‘guidance’ on social media before introducing it into the Code.

Simmonds covers the traumatic journey of the proposed EU Directive amending legislation about Pharma providing information to the general public about prescription medicines. She says that the aim is to avoid changes allowing the direct to consumer advertising that is common practice in the US. the drugs industry want to be able to provide information directly to patients, but don’t want to advertise to them.

With regards to the reach of the ABPI, if a UK company posts promotional information on the internet outside of the UK, it still falls under the remit of the code. The main questions in the UK from the PMCPA are:

  • Why do you think that social media is not covered in the 2008 code (even though it is not explicitly mentioned)?
  • What do Pharma actually want to do?
  • What will be the impact of the EU directive on providing information to patients?

Discussions on Twitter surround the fact that social media is a global phenomenon and that regional regulatory bodies need to consider this if they are to grow and adapt alongside these channels. They should possibly look at other globally-regulated industries to see how they achieve their goals in this space. There are call for a public forum to discuss these issues and the redesign of medicine regulations globally.

Comments are on
A change in topic to engaging with patients sees Gary Monk of Janssen on the stage: from innovation to integration – ‘engaging with connected patients and HCPs’. Gary talks us through a successful patient social media project using a YouTube video on ADHD that was part of an integrated approach. Monk mentions that there were practical challenges for internal agreement that included engagement and education. He says he used a YouTube video to sell the project internally (I couldn’t find it from searching YouTube, unless it’s this…?). Janssen seeded the campaign to targeted groups (parents and teachers), and the level of engagement was good.

A key point made by Monk was that the success of the programme rested not only on seeding the content well, but finding an agreement internally regarding the comment policy. In fact, it was evident that allowing moderated comments yielded more effective results than that of Pharma marketing messages. He commented that the public discussion in the comments area balanced out naturally, even the difficult discussions. Examples of comments that were not published included those that were off topic, with strong language or turn of phrase or if they mentioned specific products. With regards to the process, moderation took longer in the beginning, but became easier.

eMarketing excellence
Rene Neubach of Pfizer on how to successfully launch online programmes and engage with HCPs. He says that it is crucial for Pharma eMarketing teams to have internal guidelines for individual channels and that these guidelines should be working and evolving documents. The devil is in details: concentrate on what we know we can do well: delivering information to customers (I read this to say that obviously this isn’t the whole story, deliver info first, engage when ready). He mentioned that a website bounce rate benchmark is normal if 30-35% and that Pharma needs to get digital basics better, such as usability, language and relevance; as well as KPIs on the likes of bounce rate. He warns that Pharma can’t use literal translation of materials for multi-country initiatives: transliteration needs to understand the intent/topic and therefore this should be carefully considered (As Global, ask affiliates to manage the translation for their company).

Neubach presents Pfizer Engage, a system that allows for continued engagement with HCPs post-conference. Essentially, they use iPads during the conference and sign HCPs up to receive the enduring content. In this way, they build on the time, effort and expense of the conference, maximising the return. Pfizer measure success using an engagement index, and the programme works as it is scientific, unbranded and personalized to each HCP, although they are learning and improving constantly.

He goes on to present experience with Back in play, a patient campaign educating around the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis that uses football (soccer) as a ‘hook’ to drive the messaging. Neubach stresses that the concept was tested with the target audience first, and it has become a great success (2 million players in a very short time).

Finally Neubach talks about integrating the emarketing team (like a centre of excellence), so that all the knowledge is collected in one global place – this avoids the problem if a brand manager leaves, carrying all the local knowledge with him. A challenge with that, as pointed out by John Mack, is that this may encourage ‘edumbness‘ in the local teams, but Neubach states that the central eMarketing team at Pfizer act like an internal agency and are very quick to respond to requests.

That cover’s today, tune in tomorrow when I start with John Mack’s Hawaiian-shirtless presentation on the process leading up to the imminent FDA guidance.

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 5

Once more unto the DigiPharm breach.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 6
Part 7

Building up to reportable adverse events
When last we spoke, I covered patient community discussions. We now turn our attention to reportable adverse events and the Internet presented by Daniel Ghinn and Paul Grant. They start by re-stating the Nielsen report that suggested one in 500 adverse events were reportable, whereas Patientslikeme.com found that 7 in 500 were reportable within their own forums (Link to Pharma marketing Blog’s analysis). When Grant and Ghinn question attendees, a Boehringer employee mentioned that they had received three adverse event reports in the past 12 months and Sam Walmsley from Chandler Chicco PR agency found less than five associated with campaigns that she had worked on.

The presenters made it clear that content in context is very important in adverse event reporting. They hypothesise that in conversations, the volume of reportable adverse events are likely to vary by therapeutic area, channel and language. The duo picked a week in July and focused on 10 different therapy areas, looked at brand name variance and generic noise. They started with the brand, saw if a side effect was mentioned and then checked if personal pronouns were used (inferring a conversation). These filters created the conditions of possibility for identifying potentially reportable adverse events.

The results showed that spam, especially on Twitter, can make up a high percentage of results, and in fact, over 90% of product mentions in social media is spam in the US, 99% in Brazil and 93% in the UK, dropping to only 50% in France. From their analysis, by therapy area, potentially reportable adverse events range from 5% plus and if a brand or disease is in mainstream media, the incidence of potentially reportable adverse events spikes (the LiLo effect).

Ghinn and Grant point out that there are a large range of mentions of adverse events across therapy areas, so one-fit measurement is not a good idea and we also need to consider how many adverse event reports originate from counterfeit drugs or due to direct to consumer marketing. The point is made (in Twitter discussions) that many parameters to take into account analysing online data, so a global vision is essential to limit bias (@thibaudguymard) and that we should look to define and analyse adverse events from two angles: the formal regulatory one and the one as a nuisance to patients (@rohal).

Back on the stage, Ghinn and Grant show how a series of tweets could build up into a conversation that can exhibit all the requirements for a reportable adverse event (where individual tweets would not qualify), with a strong response from the floor. They ask questions in conclusion:

  • Will you monitor real-time engagement?
  • Will you take a global, national or regional view?
  • How will you collaborate with colleagues across marketing, corporate communications and pharmacovigilance?

140 characters or less
next to the stage are Silja Chouquet and Andrew Spong with a rather unique silent presentation on Healthcare Social Media Europe (#hcsmeu). They demonstrate the power of the hashtag on twitter to provide a story. Rather than reproduce this, I’ll just point you towards the tweetstream between 3:51pm and 4:12pm (be warned that there is much joviality surrounding a certain risqué comment…).

HCPs do not like reps. At all.
The final event of the day is a panel discussion featuring Dr Ameet Bakhai, Consultant Cardiologist, Barnet General Hospital, UK on reaching key decision makers – the challenges. The panel discuss iPhone apps for measurement and assistance of patient care. They say that, even within the British National Health Service (which is thought to be old-fashioned technically), physicians are very tech-savvy and mention that the top-selling iPhone app for physicians is a stethoscope (although I could find data to corroborate this). A word of caution from the panel: social media can be a quick and efficient way of killing people, but Pharma cannot live ‘in backward days‘.

A question from the floor: What’s the future of the pharmaceutical representative? The answer: The rep is only useful as a local conduit, as HCPs can find connection quicker than rep. In fact, some UK practises have banned sales reps, who will have no access to physicians in those clinics. One panel member opines that if a sales representative does not send the presentation in advance, they will not be seen. If they do send one in advance and it does not interest the HCP, they will not be seen. Dr Bakhai says that there is no need for Pharma reps, unless they are knowledgable, add value and are working with med/marketing colleagues. My guess is that he is really focusing on the value of field-based Scientific Advisors (Some companies call these Medical Speciality Managers [MSMs] or Scientific Managers [SMs]), who focus more energy on the data rather than relying on sales aids that use a specific story flow. Additionally, we need to consider that this is the opinion of a small panel and may not necessarily reflect the views of the thousands of HCPs in the UK.

When asked if the panel have an example of where digital-pharma oriented companies can work with HCPs to benefit the patient? Dr Bakhai responds that a Pharma company has helped build a website & provide a telemonitoring resource for cardiology patients in the UK. In the future, Pharma need to help physicians use technology effectively, such as help develop ECG on mobile phones. He also likes accredited CME he can use on a smartphone and share with his expert patient panel (he demonstrates an app to teach CPR). My position – this is hard in Europe right now, fragmentation of differing national CME/CPD systems and requirements notwithstanding, EACCME are evolving and in flux with respect to how to proceed with CME, and currently (unless you are a UK physician, as the Royal College of Physicians allows sponsored CPD events) there needs to be a hands-off approach (you can’t use your promotional medical education agency for CME activities in Europe).

Another question to the panel: have you ever been to any Pharma sites to find drug information? The answer is a simple no, but they do use Wikipedia as a point of care decision-making resource. The problem may be that Pharma is very slow to approve and update content – it means that these sites are much less relevant and behind and disengages ‘customers’. Parting shots to Pharma: ‘spend time in the front line. Spend one day in the field. You (Pharma), we (HCPs) and patients will all get something out of it‘.

Thanks for your time, that concludes today’s post and Day 1 of DigiPharm Europe 2010. I’m planning to cover Day 2 in two posts, so you’ll be pleased to know I’ll be finished on Friday!

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 4

And to the next instalment of this series on DigiPharm Europe 2010.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

When is a community not a community?
The session entitled “Community management in Pharma” was presented by René Vvan den Bos and Erik Van der Zijden. They focused on mythical ailment for gamers: nintendonitus, but created little (relevant) residual Twitter activity from their presentations, other than the need for transparency when creating an online community and to make sure you have buy-in from internal stakeholders. Also, make sure that the community you are targeting actually want a place online to call a community. And who will moderate? Patients? Are they objective enough? Do they get incentives? (my response: absolutely not, they should want to be involved to better further the community).

Net of physicians
Carwyn Jones of doctors.net.uk outlines doctors.net.uk’s work with international doctors’ networks. He says that the number one use of the internet by doctors is for professional use. Interestingly, they are sharing customer segmentation with Apple and Blackberry to assist doctors.net.uk to understand personal lives/interests. Indeed, Jones mentions 12.5% of doctors are accessing the site from iPhone, with 15,000 downloads of the iPhone application.

Jones asks: ‘How do you engage with a doctor online?’ – he says UK doctors do not have time to view webcasts, they are notoriously time-poor, but their commute is dead time – podcasts are a good solution. He also mentions that they trust Pharma to give them quality educational products (apparently Roche tops these in the survey) and that they only like to see reps if they are of high quality (my perception here is different – and this is discussed later in the programme).

Online, ‘engagement’ is considered 20% more important than content and there are five potential mistakes to building an online asset:
1. Not working out how to promote to your target market
2. Being seduced by technology (iPad anyone?)
3. Overestimate the importance of your brand
4. Measuring the wrong things (‘Time on page’ doesn’t necessarily relate to ‘impact’)
5. Not identifying the target audience

The mother of all dashboards
We now have Judith von Gordon-Weichelt, Head of Media & PR, Boehringer Ingelheim talking about social media monitoring. She demonstrates the dashboard that they use internally to track sentiment, buzz, news, press and other activity surrounding their brands and corporate communications, it’s very comprehensive! They are monitoring English and German social media in-depth and the next challenge is working out how to engage and develop specific guidelines for 44,000 employees. Not much else to say about this other than everyone was very impressed indeed.

Strengthening communities
We then had a really interesting presentation from Paul Wicks of Patientslikeme on data-driven partnerships between social media and Pharma. He says that good data is getting easier to obtain. At this point (on Twitter) John Mack shares his interview with UCB Pharma and Patientslikeme. Wicks says that Patientslikeme collect reports about treatment from opted-in members and share with all members and partners. He asks Pharma not to create an account to see the user data, but to view the 20% of data that is available publicly.

Wicks says that the more patients engage in Patientslikeme, the more they benefit from it. He uses UCB as an example partner regarding epileptic patients’ unmet needs: providing tools to record seizures: ‘I am not my seizures’ and show how the disease can affect someone’s whole life. Patientslikeme help connect that patients with others in similar positions. He states: “We build communities by helping [patients] manage their condition” and make ‘better decisions through listening to the patient voice‘.

Wicks moves on to the partnership with Novartis on the organ transplant community, where quality of life tracking over the long term reveals rich insight into transplant patients’ experiences, and how to support them. he makes a good point: The keys to maximizing data-driven partnerships is to partner with organisations whose goals align with yours, and, of course, measure something important ‘look for the win-win-win, but always putting the patients’ interests first … always imagine there is a patient in the room with you every time you make a decision’.

Questions from the floor: What is the future for Patientslikeme? Wicks responds that it is to focus on symptom management tools and predictive modelling for a disease. They want to have 3,000+ different communities for patients. And are they planning to provide support to caregivers? Currently caregivers can interact on Patientslikeme on behalf of under-13s, but they are interested in investigating issues with privacy rules to expand this to carers of other communities.

here’s a link to a relevant Patientslikeme study: Sharing health data for better outcomes on PatientsLikeMe

I hope this roundup is a useful resource for readers. Coming soon in part 5: Reportable adverse events and the internet.

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 3

Third in the series of posts about the proceedings from DigiPharm Europe 2010.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Mixing print and digtal
So on to the second presentation of the day, where Mark Prince presented on integration of online and offline strategy. Prince rejects the practice of using microsites as conference websites, as these become redundant and are one-use only. I agree and partially disagree: I agree with both these points, but if the meeting is carefully and specifically branded, or if it is an educational event, you may want to use a microsite to separate this out from your product or corporate branding. Prince also recommends building a content management system (CMS) into an event website so that you are not at the whim of your IT people. I always think this is a great idea, as it allows for timely updates and allows for meeting materials to be provided on the site. I also agree with that providing as many slides or materials on the site post-meeting will go down very well with the audience (and those who were unable to make the meeting itself). On Twitter, the point is made that delegates also want to access the site via a mobile interface, so optimizing for that is also a good idea.

In terms of resources, Prince says to invest the Rep’s £40 worth of journal articles and redeploy that resource. He recommends a USB Webkey as a link between digital and print – giving away a USB key within a print ad that allows a physician to enter a protected website. There are some reservations about this, although it seems a good idea in principle. For example, what percentage of physicians will even get to the stage of inserting a webkey into their PC (that’s after the assistant has opened the mail and already selected what the physician will view)? It seems to me a rep-led campaign with webkey would be more effective. On Twitter, it is pointed out that search engine optimization for a specific keyword may be more effective (e.g. in a print ad “search for pharmaconference 2010” and typing this phrase in google would show the registration page for the event). On the other side of the coin, an online campaign may actually be the right option but fail due to poor implementation.

Wikipedia editing
I very much enjoyed Kay Wesley‘s series of videos about ‘how can pharma drive a creative commons in healthcare’. She suggests we are not using Wikipedia effectively. At this point I should add that there were wireless access problems at the event, so there was not much Twitter activity during this presentation, which didn’t help as Kay was using vote by tweet to try to gain opinion. From the “stand-up/sitdown” voting mechanism (therefore non-voters are counted as “no”) plus those who were able to get on-line, 83% of respondents hadn’t edited a relevant Wikipedia page and 89% of Pharma companies polled don’t have policy to keep Wikipedia up to date. John Mack quips: ‘The only use of wikipedia by Pharma I’ve seen has been MIS-use!’. Interestingly, 26% of responders say Pharma updating of Wikipedia is a breach of regulations, but on Twitter, there is some consensus that clause 24 of the ABPI code of practice in the UK (pdf) would allow this (even if this is not within the spirit of the Wikipedia editing guidelines). Indeed the representative of PMCPA in the room (who produce the ABPI guidelines) confirmed that so far, there have been no breaches of ABPI code with respect to Wikipedia page editing. Regardless, I think editing your own company or brand articles on Wikipedia can be dangerous, as this is a bit of a taboo topic, so Pharma needs to be careful of the negative PR this may generate – even if it is updating for accuracy, but on the other side of the coin, it is important to correct inaccuracies. One omission: there was no discussion on needing a neutral point of view.

Edit: I would like to draw your attention to the comment made by Paul Wicks that there have been discussions on Wikipedia about Pharma editing. It seems that the way forward is to use the ‘talk’ channels in Wikipedia and suggest where changes should be made (with full disclosure, natch), but allow independent editors decide whether to make those changes.

Be accountable in social media
Next, a Q&A with Sabine Kostevc of Roche about the Roche social media guidelines (PDF) that were made available to the public and downloaded more than 5,000 times since publication on August 10 2010. Sabine says they took 3-4 months to develop from existing old documentation by 8-10 senior stakeholders and they allowed grass-roots comment to filter up via senior functional group representatives with the support of internal project sponsors (legal counsel) to make the guidelines public. This is a brilliant move by Roche and it has, in some ways, set the tone for all Pharma and very smart to bring on-side people who could potentially block the process. Sabine mentions that an internal communications campaign was undertaken within Roche and that the guidelines have delivered clarity across the organisation.

Post-publication, it is too early to see the impact of the guidelines, but there has been positive feedback from employees, according to Sabine, and will reviewed annually. In addition, the principles set out in the guidelines are not being ‘policed’ and rely on employee adherence, it remains to be seen if Roche expect providers and partners to adhere. Comments from the floor allude to Pfizer planning similar guidance.

Talk… and also listen
Alex Butler (Janssen, but speaking his own views) took to the stage to talk about building two-way relationships. Butler says social media is only one component of an integrated strategy. Going forward, it won’t be viable to keep social media elements separate (again this recurring theme of integration running throughout the conference). He mentions that Pharma is not trusted (says between tobacco and oil!) and thinks that social media is a way to improve trust between the public and Pharma. However, social media interactions, like people, are imperfect, and any social media engagement by Pharma will be imperfect due to Pharma’s conflicting obligations, however we should, where possible, follow the etiquette of each social media platform.

Butler turns his attention to outcomes measurement, he states that we are data rich but insight poor. Obsessing over measures and metrics robs the data of the value of its key insight. Quoting Einstein: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Jannsen conducted a Twitter poll where 55% answered no to the question of “Do you trust inform from pharma companies?” (75% if you count neutral responses). He says, and I very much agree with this statement, that Pharma companies need to build up their presence in social media now – you cannot pay your way in later and after publishing and control, the next stage is curation of content – Pharma has to engage and it is not all about pushing messages. He also says that people don’t use websites – they are driven to pages via social media links.

Questions from the floor – How do you allocate resources? Butler spends around an hour to an hour-and-a-half a day on Jannsen UK social media.

That’s it from me right now! There’s still quite a bit more to come (I’ve barely reached lunch on the first day!).

DigiPharm Europe 2010 Pt 2

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Here I continue the commentary on the discussions surrounding topics from DigiPharm Europe 2010. We left off around halfway through Kai Gait’s presentation on business organisation for a digital future in Part 1, which can be found here. Gait says that fear of losing control is a real inhibitor with respect to social media in some organisations and that Pharma must invest in buy-in internally from all stakeholders. This is a theme that actually repeats a number of times throughout the conference, and one that I personally think is key to a successful implementation of any tactic in the social media space.

Gait lists five steps to drive digital internally:

  • Be helpful
  • Be present (or available for questions)
  • Be social – in real life! (are we losing social skills because of social media?)
  • Share the love – make it about them and their brand
  • Pay it forward – show value

There is some discussion about this, questions about whether the meaning of ‘social’ has changed, and whether the 5 steps are really principles rather than a plan. I think they are ideals to work towards within our current reality.

He says something that resonates with the audience: ‘People aren’t afraid of change, they are afraid of being changed‘ and describes three ‘lightbulb’ moments: 1) chose a positive theme; 2) simplify complex and challenging theories; 3) share awe-inspiring stories. Gait also mentions six drivers of influence: reciprocation; consistency; social proof; liking; authority; scarcity. On Twitter, Paul Grant points us towards The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cianaldi

Further discussion focused on the global nature of digital – Pharma must look at engagement at this level and try to solve the regulatory issues with a global mechanism of sharing information. This is another theme that rears its head several times during the conference. Daniel Ghinn points us towards his call for international debate about this issue.

That’s it from the first presentation. I wanted to cover that in details as it is an important topic of discussion. In the next post, I’ll start with Mark Prince with his presentation: Paper – scissors – digital! (integration of online and offline strategy).


About me

Hi, my name is Paul Jacobs and I write the Medigital blog, as well as being the Director, Digital Strategy at Sonic Boom, a digital and social agency. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about the digital domain in pharma and medical communications/education.
Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are my very own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer, family or pets. Twitter: @PJ_Medigital
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