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Understanding doctors’ information needs is key to local and global engagement

Pharma must think about how to provide the right content in the right format

There is no doubt that doctors have fully embraced the digital world - for example, 3 million doctors worldwide use independent online professional networks for information, education and to collaborate with their peers.

However, in order to capitalise on the enormous potential to engage with doctors online, pharma companies must understand doctors' needs and digital behaviours, so they can provide the right content in the right format. 

Independent online physician networks present a real opportunity to better understand doctors' disease area knowledge and their perceptions of therapies, so that promotional or educational resources can be tailored to deliver measurable outcomes. 

Such intelligence can be gathered via a variety of sources and tools ranging from polls that gauge a quick view, to more formal tools such as Omnibus surveys that provide a scaled up picture of current attitudes and activity relating to a specific disease. 

Discussion forums can also be mined for key sentiments and terms that may have been discussed around a particular topic; while groups of specialists can be gathered for an online bulletin board discussion. Accredited educational content can also be used to identify specific knowledge gaps either before the launch of a new brand or, in an established brand programme. 

Insights into how doctors' information and education needs vary according to their nationality as well as specialty can be gleaned from multiple international online networks, thanks to Networks in Health, the unique alliance of more than 20 trusted online doctor networks.

Networks in Health, which was founded by, stretches across Europe, Latin America and Australia, as well as the US, Canada and Asia. It manages promotional or disease awareness programme activity centrally but delivers it locally via the trusted doctor channels in individual countries. 

In addition to conducting detailed research, these international online networks can be used to measure and evaluate activities to determine awareness, interest, desire and action within target groups of doctors at any point in the programme and to optimise ongoing sales and marketing activities accordingly to ensure maximum ROI.

By using knowledge gleaned from an online network as part of programme planning, pharma can begin to ensure they differentiate between and balance the need for promotional and educational activity, and test messages before implementation, to ensure effective cut-through.

This knowledge should also inform and enable the optimisation of ongoing activities in the MCM including improving the effectiveness of the sales-force by informing them and helping them to tailor activity locally, regionally and globally. 

By sharing more of their scientific data in this trusted environment, pharma can deliver what doctors really want from the industry – an improvement in knowledge and levels of education – against a backdrop of falling training budgets and the need to be transparent and build trust. 

This 'push and pull' approach provides a far deeper level of engagement and ROI, and ultimately helps pharma form more meaningful, long term relationships with target groups of doctors as it begins to address trust and transparency issues, and build equity for its brands. 

Simon Grime, is Managing Director of Communications for Networks in Health. For more information on Networks in Health, please call Simon Grime on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email You can also follow Networks in Health on twitter: netwrksinhealth

19th July 2013

From: Marketing



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