Social media for doctors, the most awaited impetus for Indian healthcare

Phanish Chandra, CEO and Co-founder, Docplexus Online Services in this insight article gives an overview of about the relevance of social media in pharma and healthcare sector

Phanish Chandra

Ever evolving landscape in information technology has brought about innovative ways of engagement for communities. An effective social media platform caters to the needs of its users as a community. While in return, extensive valuable insights are available for the stakeholders, which interact with the community.

The digital age has transformed how information is shared amongst humans. The Internet initially started providing means to obtain information. Now the Internet is not only a huge database for information but has evolved as an essential tool for communication that spreads across the edges and corners of the world. This shift in technology has taken all the aspects of life in its strides. This emerging trend is now set to bring about revolution in the healthcare sector too.

The explosion in the social media began in 2000 with LinkedIn being launched in 2002, MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006. Each of these platforms initially started as a person-to-person communication channel. These social media channels have penetrated our lives in such way that we find them imperative for communicating between us. These new platforms also brought about different and innovative ways of interactions for person-to-person and community-to-community communications.

Social media and its relevance in healthcare sector

The boom in social media has encouraged many to find innovative ways in order to position themselves. Businesses needed new approaches to adapt to these platforms so innovative ways of marketing can be utilised. Somewhat static marketing approach has now been changed to much more responsive dynamic approach.

Even though various sectors are moving to multi-channel marketing, the healthcare sector is still a laggard. It was assumed that the use of Internet is only for acquiring the information which mattered in research. But the notion is slowly changing but positively. Many pharma companies, one of the larger stakeholders in healthcare industry, are trying to brace themselves for this emerging trend. But they are finding themselves in a very tight spot due to various reasons such as:

  1. Tight external and internal regulations for marketing
  2. Inadequate knowledge and experience
  3. Fear of damaging the established brand

Pharma companies missed the first boat due to the anxiety regarding social media. However, new innovative options are raising up from the horizon. The most significant of them is contributed by a closed-community of the doctors.

As we already know, the healthcare sector has three most important stakeholders:

  1. Patients
  2. Doctors
  3. Pharma and healthcare product companies

The doctors are considered as the most important stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem and also for patients for their well being. Similarly, doctors are most important contributors for pharma companies in order to market their products. Even though regulations from Medical Council of India(MCI) and guidelines for International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) prohibit pharma companies to market their products directly to the patients, doctors remain most important participant in the healthcare ecosystem.

Docplexus recognised these insights and built social media platform exclusively for the doctors in India. Larger social media platforms such as Facebook show some really interesting intrinsic characteristics which can be incorporated in parts, in a highly specific social media platforms for doctors.

Features of best social media platform

It is important that social media platform which specially caters to doctors, must have a benchmark that suits the interests and expertise of the doctors. It is important that the platform abides to the strict rules regarding the participation. Features which distinguish such platform are:

  1. Stricter rules for registration: Rules for registration on these platforms need to be stricter than conventional social media platform like Facebook, where mere email address can grant an access to the user. However, for the platform catering to the doctors the registration is slightly more stringent and doctors need to provide their credentials in order to register
  2. Well-gated access to the members: The platform needs to be well-gated to ensure only qualifying participants are contributing to the highly specialised community.
  3. Adequate control on the content: As the platform is for professionals, there needs to be quality control regarding the content which has been posted. Time-to-time irrelevant content needs to be taken care of.
  4. Generating suitable content: Social media platforms are dynamic and need continuous flow of relevant content. At Docplexus, highly relevant content is generated regularly to stimulate community contribution.

Pharma and healthcare companies benefit from such platform. The attributes mentioned above are in line to help both doctors and pharma companies equally. A mutually beneficial relationship between the patients, doctors and pharma companies is bound to provide a win-win outcome for all. Most importantly, the insights from such platforms provide ethical ways of facilitating each other.

What our knowledge tells us

From our knowledge at Docplexus, we have gained very vital discernments regarding the healthcare sector in India. The platform recognises various factors related to users which are beneficial to pharma companies. These benefits are now helping to devise more efficient, controllable and targeted approach of marketing.

Some of these features and benefits are:

Aggregates huge community of doctors at one virtual place. Historically, the doctors had limited connection with other doctors across India. The new social media approach is bringing them at one virtual site, empowering the community. We have also seen that doctors have now begun setting collective goals with respect to their practice, issues and concerns. Anyone who genuinely has an interest to help them in these is very well appreciated.

Associates the doctors of specific speciality and interests with each other. These doctors spanning pan-India can be easily identified as per their speciality by pharma companies and their needs can be adequately addressed.

Assists in collaboration between the doctors. Doctors often stumble across difficulty in clinical treatment of patients. A large number of doctors have started sharing their advices and views regarding clinical difficulties which other doctors face. As the platform also actively protects patient identity, essential knowledge is shared between the doctors without any hesitation. Pharma companies have a great potential to collaborate with doctors in this particular area. It is possible to identify the areas of concerns for the doctors which pharma companies can address. The symbiotic relationship thus helps doctors’ community as they are provided with additional knowledge resources.

Attention to the best practices and therapies. Doctors are very much aware about their online presence. While on other communities, they remain dormant regarding in their area, on Docplexus they strive to promote best practices and therapies they feel are suitable for their peers. Often these practices are specific to a particular drug regimen or a device that left a good impression on them. Thus the platform provides an additional opportunity for pharma companies to identify and promote these practices. Most importantly, online reputation is very crucial for doctors. Hence, they only recommend the practice and the drug they have tried, tested and have benefited from. Pharma companies can assist these doctors ethically in their clinical endeavours, by addressing clinical problems they face.

Assists in knowledge sharing amongst the doctors. Most of the doctors are satisfied when their professional, practice-related and educational issues are resolved. Continuously generated relevant content assists doctors in remaining informed and up to date with the knowledge. This provides an opportunity for not only pharma companies but other knowledge providers too, to deliver the content on demand.

This is how we play our game

By aiding the doctors in their specific needs, pharma companies can now build their brand more effectively and ethically. Docplexus offers an exclusive access to unique and genuine customer insights on perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of the medical community. Healthcare and pharma companies’ profit from exceptional innovative communicational opportunities that can drive best-in-class relationship-oriented customer and KOL interaction, communication and insight. Our business mission is to help companies to transform their version of the new commercial model into actionable programmes that create results.

By Phanish Chandra
CEO and Co-founder
Docplexus Online Services Pvt. Ltd.
Pune, India

Docplexus Online ServicesInternational Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and AssociationsMedical Council of India