There’s no question that the digital world provides pharmaceutical marketers with a wide variety of vehicles for 1-to-1 patient communications. Between social media, chatbots, and messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, and Telegram, there are no shortage of options to connect with personalized conversations.

The universe expands even more for pharma marketers considering using next-generation conversational channels such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, telemedicine, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT device adoption is growing at astronomical rates. According to CNBC, Amazon could have 500 million active customers globally by 2020. Pharmaceutical companies will want to take part in these voice-activated channels for the 1-on-1 connections they offer. In a recent article, USA Today speculated, “Could U.S. consumers one day find themselves logging in to Amazon Healthcare Prime, or asking Dr. Alexa—Amazon’s popular Echo home assistance device uses a digital voice answering to the name Alexa—what they should do about their cough?”

New Tech’s Impact on Adverse Events Reporting

These channels are opportunities for medicine brands to strengthen patient relationships, but how do pharmaceutical companies report adverse events in a timely manner across so many diverse channels? How many people would it take worldwide and around the clock? So, how does a pharma marketer scale adverse events management of these marketing channels? Oftentimes, an adverse event monitoring program can cost as much as the digital program itself, and it can be difficult to justify the resources needed to monitor for adverse events across a large array of social media platforms and multiple chatbot and messaging app channels.

To overcome these challenges, and monitor these channels, marketers need scaled solutions made up of adverse events reporting software and a team of human agents. We found recently, with one of our healthcare clients, that through a combination of human agents and automated software, overall response rates for the client increased by 66% across all the healthcare provider’s major social channels. Day-to-day workload for their marketing team was reduced by 43%. Ultimately, the program also enabled higher quality engagement, with customized responses addressing the needs of patients.

Human agents can especially assist pharma marketers with the subtleties and nuance of language and conversations that automated software alone typically cannot detect and address. For example, a team of trained and skilled moderators can tag and capture social media comments that may simply state “me too,” in response to an adverse event in a flow of comments and responses, something that may be missed by programmed software solutions.

Making Social Media Adverse Event Reporting Easier

Pharma marketers shouldn’t have to exclude using social channels due to onerous brand response and adverse events management, and the fear of non-compliance. Over time we’ve found that our clients see resounding results through the automation of lower level tasks in social media, like automated tagging, acceptance, and rejection of social media comments. This can even include the automated tagging of adverse events in social media according to business rules and workflows. By automating lower level social media tasks, it frees up the marketing team for custom response and insight gathering. Social media and direct insights from patients on these channels not only has the potential to provide inspiration and direction for new product development, but they can also improve marketing, maintain product loyalty, and much more.

Using these platforms for pharma marketing makes even more sense when marketing to millennials, a sought-after audience who use these channels to make healthcare decisions. In fact, more than 75% of Americans use social media to research their symptoms. While, 90% of people ages 18 to 24 say they trust medical information shared on their social feeds, according to PwC Health Research Institute. This suggests that medical and health information isn’t simply being shared to spur conversation. Millennials, or the always-connected generation, sees social media as a trustworthy source for medical information.

Utilizing these conversational channels and maintaining FDA adverse events reporting compliance may be easier than brands ever thought possible. There are scalable social media pharma software solutions that can detect and triage adverse events in social media comments, or in chatbots and messaging app conversations, and with the addition of human agents, provide the compassion required in the healthcare space.

Combining Humans and Automation

The combination of FDA adverse event reporting software to scale detection and response, and human agents to decode language nuances and add humanity is very powerful for medicine brands. Software alone can never overcome the subtleties of language, sarcasm, slang, graphical content, use of emoji, and more. Humans in coordination with software are required. Ultimately, software solutions and human agents can free up a brand’s marketing team for more strategic decisions and pressing marketing campaigns.

Pharma marketers should supplement the standard off-the-shelf SaaS solutions used by other industries for social media publishing, and seek specialized enterprise software used in pharmacovigilance and AE reporting that are specifically engineered and targeted with FDA compliance and adverse events management in mind. Going that route not only enables brands to manage social media and messaging, but also handle adverse events and the reporting and archiving required by the FDA.

Social media represents a huge opportunity for pharmaceutical marketers to improve patient engagement, whether it be through healthcare communities, or 1-on-1 conversations in messaging apps. Pharma marketers should be nurturing those direct conversations between customers, patients, and their brand. With new enterprise-level pharma industry specialized adverse events services and software, pharma brands can ensure their FDA compliance and start creating relationships that have a positive impact in the lives of patients.

  • Dawn Lacallade

    Dawn Lacallade is a marketing change maker known for advancing the pharmaceutical industry with innovative marketing programs. With over 10 years of experience leading digital marketing initiatives, she’s guided leading healthcare companies in the areas of marketing, customer service, and sales, transforming their position in the marketplace. As LiveWorld’s Chief Social Strategist and Pharma Practice Lead, Dawn works closely with pharmaceutical leaders including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Zoetis. Connect with her @DawnL and on LinkedIn.

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