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Engaging with specialists via independent online networks

Using insights to target a specific message

Statistics show independent, professional online networks have become an integral part of specialists' working lives; with Doctors.net.uk receiving around 35,000 unique visits from specialists Monday to Friday, and around 30,000 unique visits from them at weekends.

In common with GPs, these specialists - who range from oncologists, rheumatologists and cardiologists to pathologists and dermatologists and include 82 different specialties - use independent online networks primarily for information, education and collaboration.

Statistics show, for example, that on average, oncologists interact with three e-details per month. Additionally, 59% of oncologists view online conferences, or conference highlights on a regular basis. Around 46 per cent per cent of UK rheumatologists use online CME frequently; while UK haematologists use Doctors.net.uk more than 11 times a week and 44 per cent of them read at least one e-detail per month.

Statistics from Doctors.net.uk's online centre for oncologists – the Cancer Insight Centre – show that 98 per cent of Doctors.net.uk's active oncologist members have interacted with this educational resource. Feedback shows that they value the involvement of pharma companies in supporting such information provided that the material is produced independently.

Pharma companies can capitalise on specialists' use of independent, online professional networks by running targeted and highly measurable promotional and sponsored educational campaigns. Independent networks enable pharma companies to gain a clear understanding of specialists' wants and needs around specific disease areas by researching their level of knowledge and seeing where and how they last engaged with relevant information and via which channel.  Such insights can then be used to target very specific messages and build and measure knowledge improvement and even clinical behaviour change. They can also inform, integrate with and support other multi-channel marketing activities.

Doctors.net.uk and Networks in Health – the unique international alliance of online physician networks – have helped pharma companies target specialists through a variety of campaigns. These range from an international, digital programme to improve doctors' knowledge of a growth hormone treatment across the UK, France and Germany, engaging GPs and endocrinologists in each country; to tactics such as the sponsorship of online learning needs analysis programmes, webcasts and conference highlights for oncologists via Doctors.net.uk's Cancer Insight Centre; activities which help to position pharma companies as thought leaders in specific disease and therapy areas. Results from such sponsored activities include an eCME module on chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) for oncologists, which prompted a high proportion of them to say they would change their clinical practice  as a result.

Such targeted promotional and educational activities help pharma companies to develop a more multi-channel approach to engagement  with specialists that is built on a firm understanding what their wants and needs, and can be clearly measured and evaluated to demonstrate cut-through and ROI.

For more information on Doctors.net.uk, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email Simon.Grime@mess.doctors.org.uk. You can also follow Doctors.net.uk on twitter: doctors_net_uk

25th January 2013

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