A while ago, I published an open letter in which I asked pharmaceutical companies to name one of their employees who could make 100% transparent edits on Wikipedia entries related to their own products. Now John Mack, the Pharmaguy, posted some updates about new reports on the relation between Wikipedia and the pharma industry and he asked me what I think about it.
As I’ve been plenty of pharma companies since then assisting them in creating an efficient digital strategy, here is what I said:
“Since I announced my open letter for pharma companies, I’ve been in touch with several international pharmaceutical companies and while they all agreed my proposal was the perfect method for them about editing Wikipedia in a proper way, none of them seemed to be able to make the final required step for that. I’m still optimistic though as I know how much time it takes to run through such ideas in large companies.” – Bertalan Mesko, MD, Medical Futurist at medicalfuturist.com, @Berci
Mark Senak at Eye on FDA published a detailed white paper about the regulatory issues of pharma communications in social media. This white paper with the practical open access guide we published a year ago should assist pharma companies in finding the right strategy in the digital world.
Just like last year, now it’s time to publish my predictions for the new year regarding healthcare, medical technology and innovation. It seems year by year many of these predictions prove to be right which makes me glad. I hope the same thing will happen to these predictions.
- Flexible mobile phones will be released: Flexible glass makes such developments possible. Medical professionals will love these as they are literally unbreakable. The PC era is clearly over.
- Fewer health-related mobile app downloads: Last year a decline in the number of downloaded smartphone apps was reported, but don’t worry, that’s a positive step. Now instead of downloading every medical app just to show them to our peers, we will use them with strategy and will make the right choices.
- Google Glasses will hit the world market and healthcare: By bringing digital information and data in front of your eyes, it can have a bright future in everyday medicine either in the OR or during a regular examination.
- Google+ communities will prove to be better than Facebook groups: Google+ Communities are relatively new, but I discovered more news items and posts which are relevant to my topics in the last few weeks than on Facebook during the last few years.
- Robotic Exoskeletons will become widely used: It’s time to use all those military and robotic developments to help the everyday lives of paralyzed people in many ways.
- First humanoid robots to be “born”: I’m not saying such humanoid robots would play any kind of a role in our lives now, but this certainly is going to be a very important step. Be prepared to see them in hospitals in the coming years.
- FDA does not publish a clear guide about using social media by pharma: A year ago we published our crowdsourced and open-access guide for pharma but we do need the FDA to come out with a clear set of guidelines. Well, they won’t do that in 2013.
- Windows tablets on the rise: I have an Android tablet, my friends use iPad and iPad Mini so I pretty much know all the pros and cons for these two systems, but when I tried Microsoft Surface, I was amazed. It definitely has a future in healthcare. Elder members in our family can learn how to use a tablet in days, even if they couldn’t learn how to use a computer for years.
- Cost of whole genome sequencing goes under $1000: It is possible in many laboratories from Oxford to China to sequence a total human genome for less than $1000 in less than a few hours, but it should be widely available in 2013 as an affordable service.
- Some smartphone apps get evidence based background: There are more and more studies focusing on whether certain smartphone apps and concepts can be used in medicine and healthcare, therefore as the amount of evidence grows, doctors should be able to prescribe mobile apps for their patients besides drugs and therapies.
- Robotic telepresence in rural hospitals: When geographical distances cause a serious limitation, we need to turn to digital technologies, but using Skype cannot always be a solution. Robotic telemedical systems should appear in such areas in 2013.
- LinkedIn gets close to Facebook and Google+: Regarding the professional use of social networks, LinkedIn is far more useful and efficient than Facebook and maybe better than Google+. Following the right moves and steps, I expect LinkedIn to become the most respected social network.
- No hospital can live without social media accounts: This has been a clear trend for years, and now it’s time for every hospital manager to accept the challenge and the importance of using social networks to keep in touch with (future) patients.
- IBM’s Watson in the medical practice. IBM’s supercomputer is being tested now at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and it should become an integrated part of medical decision making this year.
- Health/medical businesses focus more on Twitter than on Facebook: This comes from my own experience. While Facebook ads can help you get your message to a lot of people, Twitter is more precise in communication. While it requires a different strategy, it can be more successful in conversion.
As usual, please feel free to add your tips in the comment section!
Yesterday, Boehringer launched a social game for pharma which is going to be a milestone in the history of pharma’s role in improving social media. Here is Syrum.
Boehringer Ingelheim last night unveiled its most ambitious attempt yet to harness the power of gaming at a consumer-style launch event held at the Science Museum in London.
Its long-awaited Facebook game Syrum challenges players to run their own pharmaceutical company and develop drugs to combat a range of deadly diseases.
Explaining the company’s reasons for developing the game Boehringer’s director of digital John Pugh told PMLiVE: “We built Syrum with a view to creating an ecosystem through which we could engage with people around education. It’s also to do with reputation management, market research and recruiting talent.
WolframAlpha, my favorite search engine, keeps on coming up with amazing ideas. The latest one is that you can analyze your whole Facebook presence in details.
Pharma has been paying a lot of money to companies focusing on social media analytics and now they can get it for free.
John Mack invited me last week to participate in his newest podcast, this time focusing on how pharma could use Wikipedia. As a Wikipedia administrator, I tried to provide useful pieces of advice.
Bonus: 3 Charts That Show How Wikipedia Is Running Out of Admins
Dr. Robert Goodman, a physician in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx has been collecting gift pens received from pharma reps over the years. You can see the pictures below, but it raises some interesting questions.
You can imagine how many pharma reps contacted him in the past years. Do we really need these reps? Cannot we provide the same information in a personalized, time-consuming way for the physicians? (Yes, we can…)
A few days ago, I published an open letter to pharma about employing a Wikipedian and that letter received quite huge feedback including hundreds of tweets and some interesting blog posts.
John Mack, author of PharmaGuy, invited me to participate in a podcast on the 17th of July:
Pharma does not have a stellar record when it comes to editing Wikipedia articles. See, for example, “Simply Irresistible: Abbott Tampering with Wikipedia Entries” and “Web 2.0 Pharma Marketing Tricks for Dummies.” So it’s no surprise that this raises a number of interesting issues that were hotly debated during a recent #hcsmeu Twitter chat. That discussion will be continued in a Pharma Marketing Talk podcast on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. You are invited to listen or call in with your opinions. For more information, go here.
Until then, you can fill in a short survey about this issue on his blog.
Based on the recent open letter sent to the Royal Society about employing a Wikipedian in residence, here is my open letter as a Wikipedia administrator to pharma following the discussion with Michael Spitz on Twitter.
Dear Pharma Companies,
The place of Wikipedia in the dissemination of medical information online is indisputable now. If you want your customers to access information about your products from the quality perspective and in the simplest way, you have to deal with using Wikipedia.
Based on the pretty negative past encounters between pharma employees and Wikipedia editors (pharma employees trying to edit entries about their own products in a quite non-neutral way), we advise you to employ a Wikipedia editor if you want to make sure only evidence-based information is included in entries about your own products. Appointing someone from within your company as a “spokesperson” in Wikipedia who would perform all edits on behalf of the company is an excellent way to update those entries.
For more details, please see our open access social media guide.
But basically, we, Wikipedians, are more than open to starting a discussion about this with you.
I’m looking forward to working together.
Dr. Bertalan Mesko
A lot of colleagues from the pharmaceutical industry have asked me about the recent closure of J&J’s Psoriasis 360 Facebook page in the past couple of days. They asked whether this is a proof that pharma shouldn’t be on Facebook.
Psoriasis 360 was one of the best examples of pharma being open to use social media effectively. It was the first pharma-driven Facebook page initiated by Alex Butler, that allowed comments. People likes that, the industry used it as the example, it won awards. And now, it’s closed.
More than a year after launching its Psoriasis 360 page on Facebook, the Janssen UK unit of Johnson & Johnson is closing down due to a growing number of comments that had to be removed because specific drugs were mentioned or, in some cases, offensive language was used. The decision was posted on the Facebook page today.
I have managed large medical/pharma Facebook pages and I know it can be hard to manage a page with a lot of limitations, but in that case it must have been around 1-2 comments daily. Yes, daily. It means there is another reason behind the closure.
I’ve told all my pharma contacts this is the proof that a pharma-driven Facebook page (or any social media channel) can only be successful if someone with good communication/social media skills is behind that and is responsible for that. As soon as Alex left the company, they decided to close the page.
Take-home message: find the right people for managing and designing these social media channels otherwise it just won’t work.