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Networks in Health member DrPortal.hu highlights challenges and opportunities in Hungary

Online use rises as pharma sponsorship cut back

Online Physician CommunitiesThe internet has become an invaluable point of reference for doctors in Hungary who need to keep abreast of the country's changeable healthcare regulations and national health insurance support system in a cost-effective way.

These doctors are not only among the lowest paid medical professionals in the Central Eastern European countries, they have also suffered cut-backs in sponsorship support from pharma for resources, such as periodicals, and conference participation.

This reduced support from pharma has occurred as a result of extra taxes that have been levied on the industry in Hungary, and which have forced it to reduce its marketing-related spend and cut the number of sales representatives from 2,700 in 2011 to 1,700 in 2013.  

Nearly 100% of doctors in Hungary now go online for professional purposes. In tandem with this, online doctor networks, like DRportal.hu which is part of the Networks in Health alliance and provides a range of information and education services for doctors, are becoming increasingly popular.

Gábor Gyarmati, founder of DrPortal.hu, which is used by 35% of the country's doctors, says that online articles and drug information are particularly well used, and can provide cost-effective marketing opportunities for pharma. Engagement with Web 2.0 applications, social media, doctor-to-doctor or doctor-to-patient communication is still low, although new innovations are being introduced in this area.

In fact, Hungary's top pharma, health communication and market research holding company, Szinapszis Group, which owns DrPortal.hu, has recently brought one such innovation to the market. It has launched a new digital HealthPanel, which brings unique insights to patients, doctors and pharma companies alike.

Around 24,000 patients, aged 18+, who suffer from conditions including diabetes, cancer and COPD, share their experiences and opinions on medicines and other healthcare topics in Hungary via the HealthPanel.

Topics are set on a weekly basis by website moderators, but patients, doctors and pharma clients can also make suggestions. This means pharma companies can validate ideas quickly and conduct exclusive research among specific patient groups, while doctors can discuss issues that cannot be easily tackled face-to-face due to time constraints or their sensitive nature.

In conclusion, DrPortal.hu expects to see a continued reliance on the internet among doctors in Hungary in the current economic climate. This, in turn, will bring valuable opportunities for the pharma industry to engage with the medical profession in a relevant and cost-effective way.

Alex Merckx is international development manager for Networks in Health. For more information on Networks in Health, please email Alex.Merckx@networksinhealth.com. You can also follow Networks in Health on Twitter: @netwrksinhealth

11th October 2013

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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