After years, finally the United States Food & Drug Administration came up with a proposal in the form of a guide about how pharma companies should deal with social media.
One of the so-called draft guidances offers instructions on how companies should attempt to correct product information on websites that are run by others, such as chat rooms. The other addresses how products – including risk and benefit information – can be discussed in venues such as Twitter, as well as paid search links on Google and Yahoo, all of which have limited space. This will involve using links to product web sites, for instances, that can be clicked.
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