Building the social media connection

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2012

Peer-to-peer consulting and social gaming may catch physicians' attention

While the evolving EHR communication channel is mostly in the control of health systems that adopt a certain vendor, system-wide, individual doctors can—and do—connect online via social-media networks set up for their profession. One of the leaders in this regard is Sermo (Cambridge, MA), recently acquired by WorldOne Interactive, a New York-based market research firm specializing in email communications.

Among other things, the Sermo acquisition will power up WorldOne’s MedLive service, an online polling mechanism to get fast responses from WorldOne’s database of 1.8 million healthcare professionals worldwide. Sermo, which counts more than125,000 credentialed physicians as members in its community, provides interactivity among its members. Last year, it launched iConsult, a crowdsourcing platform through which physicians can share diagnostic data, queries and images among peers who are also in the Sermo network, to solicit opinions of others for treatment.

“Doctors are increasingly using their digital devices to get professional-level wisdom from the crowd online,” comments Hudson Plumb, SVP and CIO, McCann Regan Campbell Ward (New York).

“We allow brands to host content, such as sponsored posts, educational materials and presentations by key opinion leaders, and give doctors access to prescribing resources such as sample opportunities and patient resources,” explains Jake Coniglio, SVP, global strategy and corporate development for WorldOne Interactive. Meanwhile, he notes that market intelligence and demand signals can be gleaned from the conversations that flow on Sermo and iConsult, and these help drug companies to fine-tune the clinical resources they might choose to present on the network. “When physicians show intent by querying or commenting on a given topic, this demonstrates their need for more information or can be a form of earned media about a positive experience,” says Coniglio.

Exploring other ways to tap today’s online zeitgeist, WorldOne Interactive is also banking on the concept of competitive gaming: The new DocTANGO product is an online social gaming platform that makes brand science a sport, by enabling physicians to educate themselves about emerging trends “while competing against their peers for points and public prestige, rank and status by way of a leaderboard that shows the winners,” says Coniglio.

A MedLive poll of 500 global MDs demonstrates that 82% of MDs are interested in competing against global peers in an online health game that tests their knowledge, and 84% are interested in contributing their insight to help experts forecast future healthcare events in competitive online environments. “This type of thinking unlocks a series of promotional, engagement, detailing, data and forecasting opportunities for marketers,” says Mike Marett, senior vice president, head of global business development at WorldOne Interactive.

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