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Peer influence and pharma reputation

Professional online forums have transformed doctors' working lives

Professional online forums have transformed doctors' working lives by enabling them to solve complex clinical problems at the click of the mouse and to discuss a wide variety of clinical issues with their peers in a secure, digital environment. 

In 2011 alone, primary and secondary care doctors posted more than 500,000 comments, questions and answers on the Doctors.net.uk online forum, with subjects ranging from unusual surgical procedures to medications and complex ethical issues.

But what effect could doctors' increasing reliance on their peers for information and advice, and their ability to share their views with hundreds of thousands of colleagues via professional networks have on the pharma industry? 

From a reputational perspective, it has never been more important for pharma companies to communicate clearly and effectively with their target doctors as well as the hard to reach groups, such as 'low-see or no-see' doctors, and measure the impact. 

Online professional networks, like Doctors.net.uk which is the most trusted resource for the majority of its members and is used by over 40,000 doctors every day, can play a valuable role in helping pharma companies to build and extend their relationships with doctors and integrate their offline activities with online. 

The focus on long term conditions and the challenging budgetary landscape in the NHS, combined with the clear demand among doctors for online educational resources, presents a golden opportunity for pharma companies to support GPs and secondary care doctors via these networks by sharing their huge knowledge base. 

Creating timely, well researched educational programmes that fulfil clearly identified learning needs and help doctors to improve their clinical practice, enables pharma companies to showcase their knowledge and expertise, as well as deliver complementary messages to offline engagement. 

Gathering insight and using the networks to better understand doctors' behaviour, views and perceptions as part of the planning process, and then optimising the engagement at every stage of the product lifecycle, delivers real measurable impact and ROI.

By Simon Grime, Managing Director of Communications for Doctors.net.uk - the UK's largest and most active network of medical professionals

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

5th September 2012

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