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HCPs' Social Media Presence and Listening for Data Insights - Part II


The second of two parts of Pharmaceutical Executive's Q&A discussion with Vinod Badami, Vice President, Data and Analytics at Indegene.

Pharmaceutical Executive: Does social listening provide real-world evidence (RWE) for drug development? 

Vinod Badami: As mentioned earlier, HCPs are starting to get more comfortable with discussing medical-related information on social media. They evaluate the safety and efficacy of treatments through debates and discussions, promote new drug discoveries, and so on.

Vinod Badami

Vinod Badami

Similarly, patients have also taken to online review platforms or discussion forums to share their personal experiences, challenges, and side effects using specific treatments.

As a result, there is massive amount of information (albeit unstructured) that pharmaceutical organizations can leverage in addition to the structured RWE sources (like claims and EMR data) currently used for drug development. Data from social listening, when structured using trained machine learning algorithms, offers additional insights that can be used to support the current hypothesis around drug development or identification of gaps in an existing treatment.

How is pharma leveraging social media for clinical trials recruitment and safety monitoring?

The use of social media for clinical trial recruitment is gaining popularity at a time when patients and physicians are becoming more digital-savvy than ever. The active social presence of patients or patient advocacy groups opens exciting new doors for clinical study recruitment where access and reach to potential participants are more streamlined and less challenging. It is also more cost-effective to recruit on social media as these platforms enable you to reach a more diverse and broad target patient population much easily. Companies can adopt a combination of paid and organic digital advertising campaigns to promote clinical recruitment-related posts to users within specified target demographics, enabling them to connect with patients, drive recruitment, and design more patient-centric trials effectively.

What infrastructure do pharma marketers need to build for managing enormous amount of data on HCPs?

Cloud-based data warehouses or data lakes are proven ways to consolidate and unify large volumes of data sets and extract insights about what HCPs want most from a brand — all while not compromising data privacy, availability, and security. In addition, pharma marketers need large-scale AI infrastructure that can train Natural Language Processing models to convert unstructured text into a structured format, delivering language understanding with domain-specific vocabulary.

Where does this feature in digital maturity of the pharma industry compared to other industries?

The pharma industry has traditionally been slow to move up the digital maturity curve when compared to other industries. But this mindset is rapidly changing - owing to the wave of digital transformation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, organizations are breaking traditional engagement models by implementing an omnichannel strategy to meet the personal needs of every HCP on channels where they are most active. This is where data-driven social listening is proving to be a powerful driver. The need of the hour is for organizations to recognize what social listening can do for focused customer interactions. We as an industry are not far behind and are definitely making progress in this space.

Do you believe that social media platforms will overtake conventional digital channels for HCP engagement, especially in the personalisation journey?

Personalizing engagements has a lot to do with understanding the channel and content affinities among HCPs. While social media is a great way to understand your HCPs and engage them better, it is just one of the many impactful avenues for engagement. Personalized journeys cannot start or end with social media simply because your HCPs could be present and active on multiple channels at the same time. With digital channel adoption rates growing rapidly, pharmaceutical companies have access to data that can help them identify what type of content works well for each of the personas across a multitude of channels (new and old). With this information, pharma marketers can identify digital-savvy HCPs vs. HCPs who prefer more personal interactions, or a mix of both - enabling them to design a personalized omnichannel engagement plan that is robust and effective.

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