Last week I attended the #DigiSights13 event a conference on Digital marketing for Pharma & Healthcare companies. It was very focused and I got some key insights into the industry and how digital can provide value to the space beyond the usual brand awareness creating campaigns.

Kudos to a great list of speakers from Dr Malpani, Salil Kallianpur to Mahesh Murthy, Andrew Spong and many more including the MediaMedic (the organizers) founders – Dinchin & Priti

What I found most interesting were the various stakeholder communities involved. I hadn’t thought of the distinctions between pharma companies and healthcare providers much. Here I am listing out the various community and connections that are waiting to be made!

Pharma companies
These usually sell to doctors and sometimes sell directly to consumers

Doctors/Healthcare providers
These include clinics, hospitals, diagnostic labs and so on who provide healthcare to the end consumer i.e. patient

Pharmacists/Retail Sellers
These are a small chunk who play a role as middle agents who connect with end consumer, hence need to be factored in the social process

Getting smarter and informed from ‘Dr Google’ – a term I heard at the conference – these people are asking questions, expecting answers and looking for more transparency and services from their healthcare providers. Since Satyamev Jayate – Aamir Khan’s revolutionary TV show, the deep seethed dissatisfaction towards doctors has been seeing louder expressions as people realise that a lot of pharma companies and healthcare providers are taking them for a ride.

Its very interesting how digital technology can be applied to all these various groups,
Pharma to doctor – Med reps from pharma companies visit doctors to inform them about pharma products/changes/details/research findings and so on. For many reasons they tend to be old school people, landing up at the doctors doors any time of week in groups taking up all the seating while the patients stand around waiting. The manner in which they present their work is also not too interesting.

Both pharma and doctors were looking forward to an improvement in this space by integrating digital technology,

  1. Informative websites with possibilities of connecting with med reps online (apparently it is being done in Japan)
  2. Med reps being lot more effective with the use of tablets and other digital media tools
  3. Apps/Websites where doctors can research on their own or opt to be updated about certain specific topics
  4. e-learning initiatives to train med-reps and keep them up to date. They can carry a digital repository of knowledge with them so as to be able to answer any of the docs questions

Pharma to Patient
This was touched upon a lot. Apparently as per traditional pharma ways, they sell their medicines to the doctors. Many suggestions had come up in this conference about how and why pharma should increase a dialogue with the patients directly. Mahesh Murthy strongly suggested that pharma stop focusing only on doctors, but to converse directly with the patient as well. Some suggestions he had for pharma companies were:

  1. Publish transparent and comprehensive content about all your medicines on your website
  2. Make comprehensive mini site for a particular disease (including a list of all available medications for it) to gain patient’s interest and attention
  3. Launch campaigns to make patients more curious so they ask their doctors why this medicine has been prescribed and not that other one

Other ideas shared around this same campaign was that medical material from pharma companies needs to be provided with each medicine sale by law. This is not implemented by pharmacists in India even if the pharma company provides the material. If it can be ensured by company, can be a great communication channel from Pharma to Patient
Doctor 2 Doctor
Networks are coming up internationally for doctors to discuss issues, new research, trends and so on. There is a lot of potential in this market – niche, specific networks, groups for doctors to connect with each other.
This can be a good space for pharma to join in the conversation and connect with doctors in a new maybe improved way?

Doctor 2 Patient
Where a lot more digitally proactive solutions are already being put into practice. My thyroid expert had kept encouraging all enquiries via email since 5 years back (anyway he charges 1500/- for every consultation so email is mucho preferred!) 🙂 He recently has come on Linkedin though I found it a bit odd to connect with him there.
I remember reading this article sometime back and was totally amazed with the social savviness and how much value this Dr Ashley from Kerala provides to his patients with the use of social media!

So basically a lot of room for some really great, useful and industry changing digital integrations into the pharma and healthcare industry! A lot more exciting thoughts were shared at the conference. You can get the tweet stream transcript here and read event summary blogs from Lighthouse Insights.

Hope you enjoyed this post!