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Doctors’ disease knowledge: an insight from Russia

With conference attendance often difficult, online provision of new clinical data is of great interest in Russia

There's a huge opportunity for pharma to step in and provide education services in Russia because there are many unmet needs. But the information they provide must be balanced and relevant and not just concentrated on their area of interest.

Very often at present there's a mismatch between the information pharma puts in front of doctors and the information they actually want from the industry. As a community we are in a unique position to identify the issues that doctors are concerned about and we can spot the hot topics.

Companies can't afford to be short-sighted about this: the advantage to pharma of rolling out such schemes goes beyond a one-year sales plan. Companies who provide this high quality information will benefit in the long run: they already do this on a worldwide basis, so just need to adapt their services and materials for this country. Given that there's stiff competition here between branded medicines and generics, any company making an effort in this way will be in a particuarly good position.

When it comes to the information that our communities need, clinical data is of great interest: research, trials and overviews of what has been done are useful. In Russia we have nine time zones, so information from events and conferences - which doctors often cannot attend for reasons of cost - could be shared. Any glimpse into what was discussed is appreciated.

In terms of disease areas, there is lots of scope for pharma: diabetes is the eternal topic, with lots of doctors now having to deal with the complications in patients. Cardiovascular disease is also important, as is oncology.

There is quite a low understanding of how to spot the early signs of cancer at a primary care level to facilitate quicker referral and treatment. This too is an area where pharma's wealth of information could help save lives.

Medicine in Russia tends to be opinion-based rather than, as in the west, evidence-based. We don't have a vibrant, Cochrane Library-style set-up here and only 5 per cent of doctors in Russia speak English, so these resources are not available to them. This is something pharma could also explore.

One major problem is that things happen so quickly - and pharma is so slow at making decisions. Pharma is still in this mode of off-line promotion, in which everything happens in slow motion. Digital doesn't work this way, but the number of people involved in decision-making over online communities means good projects can get caught up in a company's legal department for months.

And pharma does seem to have a phobia that someone on a community will post something about an adverse reaction or off-label use - despite the fact that no-one is really interested in discussing this. I say to pharma: “These problems are in your imagination!” So we encourage clients to engage with our communities in conversation, because otherwise it's a monologue, which is not natural for social media. Pharma is very welcome to do this, as long as they identify who they are:after all, everyone hates hidden marketing - especially doctors.

The opportunities are there: just be brave and be creative.

The Author
Oxana Kolosova, Managing Partner, iVrach.com

iVrach.com is a rapidly growing online doctor community covering Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

6th September 2013

From: Research, Marketing, Healthcare

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