Social media has changed how we communicate, network, and even how companies engage their audience and promote their products. The components of social media are people, information (content), and digital technology that enable communication and interaction.
Pharmaceutical companies create and disseminate a large amount of content through many channels. Although slow to embrace social media, pharmaceutical companies now have presence on large social networks like Twitter and Facebook. These pharmaceutical company social media pages are often managed by marketing or corporate communications teams with little or no involvement from Medical Information teams. Medical Information teams have not been included in the social media discussion. It makes sense for Medical Information teams to leverage social media to engage and provided tremendous value to patients, providers, and the company because they already provide scientific support to patients and healthcare providers.
What Is Social Medical Information?
Social Medical Information (SMI) is a concept I have been thinking about for a few years. I believe that companies that include their Medical Information teams in their social media strategy will have a competitive advantage over those that do not. It makes too much sense to ignore.
My definition of Social Medical Information is:
Medical Information teams increasing health literacy and influencing health outcomes by sharing knowledge through social media channels and other digital platforms.
Social Media + Medical Information = Social Medical Information (SMI)
Essentially, take the core function of pharmaceutical medical information teams, which is the dissemination of knowledge upon request from patients and healthcare providers, add social media principles and technology, and you get Social Medical Information. Social Medical Information will become a sub-function or new role within Medical Information departments if this concept is adopted by pharmaceutical companies,
Social Medical Information is more than the physical act of using social media channels to communicate or social listening. It requires Medical Information teams to understand and adopt the core principles of social media. The core principles of social media are:
Fortunately, these core principles are already present in current Medical Information practice. The missing piece is social media presence and maximizing use of available digital technologies.
Social Medical Information requires Medical Information teams to share knowledge proactively within regulatory guidelines. Proactive communication is a frontier that must be crossed for Medical Information teams to deliver exceptional value through social media channels. Squatting on social media channels and just listening or waiting for questions that probably should not be answered in a public forum, handicaps knowledge sharing, engagement, and relationship building. Medical Information teams should drive conversations about health and share valuable information in order to impact health outcomes through social media. In doing so they will provide tremendous value to the healthcare community and their organizations.
I strongly believe that Social Medical Information is the next big opportunity for Medical Information teams to increase their value and it is the best strategy for pharmaceutical companies to leverage social media to engage their audience and build relationships.
A single tweet may reach thousands and or even millions. How long will it take and at what cost for the entire sales and field medical teams to make such an impact through traditional ways of engagement?
Is your Medical Information team practicing or thinking about Social Medical Information? Join the RxEconsult community to comment on this article. Send me a tweet @drogbru and use #SMI.