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Encouraging doctors to discuss new products benefits pharma

Understanding knowledge, attitudes and practice provides valuable insights

Online Physician CommunitiesThe idea of doctors discussing a pharma company's medicines can make even the most confident marketers feel a little apprehensive, due to the tightly regulated nature of the sector and the need to carefully control clinical messages.

Yet, of course, doctors have always discussed new treatments with each other in a peer-to-peer environment; hence pharma companies have devoted a huge amount of effort to identifying the key opinion leaders (KOLs) driving such debate.

Digital channels have made it a lot easier for pharma companies to not only identify KOLs but also encourage discussion about products and services whilst clearly respecting privacy issues. This kind of dialogue should be viewed as not only manageable for pharma, but essential to its future development and success.

In the short-term, feedback from doctors can be extremely useful for adapting multi-channel marketing campaigns and messages. This can also help pharma to build stronger relationships with doctors because they feel that their feedback is being valued.

Over the longer term, this discussion and feedback can play a much more pivotal role in how pharma companies undertake product development. At the moment, pharma companies generally only use digital channels to deliver sales and marketing campaigns, using them to deliver core messages around new or existing brands.

However, as real world evidence and outcomes become increasingly important for market access, use of digital channels to understand doctors' knowledge, attitudes and practice will provide valuable insights into the impact that new medicines in development will have once they are available. In fact, it could even alter their development programme as far back as early clinical studies.

Transparency, privacy and compliance with regulatory rules are, of course, essential when gathering this kind of information and doctors need to know who can see it and how it will be used, but all of these can be achieved when digital programmes utilise online professional networks.

For more information on M3, the global provider of technology services in healthcare, and its new European Division which includes,, and, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email 

9th April 2014

From: Marketing



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