Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Novartis has launched a first-of-its-kind social network for heart failure patients and carers in the US.
Together in HF went live towards the end of last year and provides a closed community for those affected by heart failure to share their stories and support each other.
It's a brave step for Novartis to compete with the likes of Facebook in setting up its own social network, but with nearly six million Americans having heart failure there is a sizable potential community it could attract.
Going beyond a simple peer-to-peer offer, the site also offers 'emotional support platforms' staffed by health researchers and clinicians.
Moreover, Together in HF is also available as an Android app in the US Google Play store and an iOS app for Apple devices is expected to be available in the US App store in early 2017.
The firm's digital plans have been formulated to underpin Novartis' Entresto (sacubitril and valsartan), which is tipped for blockbuster status but has so far performed better in Europe than in the US.
Fabrice Chouraqui, president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, said: “Our commitment to patients goes far beyond medicine, and we are proud to help launch this new, innovative social network for heart failure patients and their loved ones.
“Together in HF is a collective effort that brings together the expertise and resources of many organisations with a special focus on the unique social and emotional needs of people who are living with heart failure.”
In addition to its social aspect, Together in HF offers its members information and other resources for heart failure from patient advocacy groups as well as professional medical associations.
To that end the company worked with several US health advocacy organisations to set up Together in HF, among them the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, CardioSmart by the American College of Cardiology and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.
WomenHeart's CEO Mary McGowan said: “As a founding partner of Together in HF, we strongly believe in helping those living with heart failure manage their emotional and psychosocial health.
“It is often these less tangible effects of the condition that are overshadowed by the physical signs. Yet we know that focusing on the whole patient experience greatly contributes to the overall health of the patient.”
More recently its Heart Partner iPhone app for patients and carers was launched in October with health tracker and patient diary functionality.