From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients around the world were forced to find digital solutions to talk to their doctors, research medical information, manage their health, voice their opinions about brands, find advice, and share their stories and feelings with each other. As a result, patients are sticking with social media as their place to give feedback and receive information about their health—and they’re not going back.

Pharma marketers now know that listening to the patient voice on social media platforms is a crucial part of any strategy going forward. In fact, 82% of industry professionals plan to adopt social listening technology in the next five years, according to new research from data insights firm Talking Medicines. By that time, 23% of the 60 U.S.-based senior pharma executives surveyed by consultancy Kineticos Life Sciences think they will be using social listening technology on a daily basis to support branding, product launches, and other activities.

What’s Needed to Support the Growth of Social Listening?

Despite this understanding, most pharma professionals don’t have an existing technology platform that can support their patient intelligence and social listening efforts. Seven in 10 believe they’ll have to increase their spending by 25% in the next three years to take advantage of social listening technology, while one in six think they’ll have to increase spending by 50%. Besides spending, pharma professionals expressed that the biggest changes they’ll have to make involves equipping talent and staff with the digital skills necessary as well as integrating current systems and data sets with new technology.

Social listening has clearly become crucial to pharma—marketers have an immediate need to understand the online conversation surrounding a brand. By doing so, pharma marketers can unlock enormous opportunities to streamline service while collecting highly valuable insights efficiently. According the survey, the therapeutic areas that rank as the most important when it comes to gaining insight from social intelligence are oncology, rare disease, and neurological disease, followed closely by other chronic conditions.

“COVID-19 has shone a light on the need for pharma to adopt new digital technologies and to use actionable data more effectively,” says Jo Halliday, CEO, Talking Medicines. “During the pandemic people have flocked to social media, making less frequent visits to GPs and Consultants, as their medicine regimes have inevitably been impacted. The good news is that pharma professionals are clearly already thinking about this. They’re prepared to step up their efforts and investments to adopt tech-led forms of social listening that are tailored to the needs of the pharma sector as a means of gathering better patient intelligence and improving brand performance.”

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