Welcome to the week when social media makes a very loud, very clear call to be included more routinely as a tool in the management of health.
Not a soft-option, not a passing-trend, not a farrago of geeks and gadgets -- but an opportunity for us to push towards parity with other health-awareness, education and support systems.
The next 5 days will essentially be an experiment where we will hear from practitioners, patients, physicians, pharma and pioneers about how social media helps and hinders our lives. The first step, of course, is acknowledging that it is here, it is here to stay, it will only reward us in reciprocation to the ways in which we use it wisely.
First, a confession; I’m always somewhat bemused that I’m considered an evangelist for social media – certainly I’m astonished that I’ve acquired ‘Leadership status’ in the field. That’s not me seeking saccharine-coated reassurances to boost my ego, I promise. But fundamentally, I’ve only ever wanted to improve the dialogue I have with my physician and take responsibility for my health. It is my health after all: ultimately we are all patients of the chronic condition called life. And for those of you who have suffered earache in my garrulous company – I’m a natural talker, extrovert, seeker-of-solutions. It is a happy accident, therefore, that I fell in love with social media because it gave me the means by which I could educate and empower myself. I’m oft-described as a ‘tornado’ ... whirling through, making mischief and disrupting the norm in my wake. To that extent, therefore, social media and I are natural partners; social media is and will continue to be a disruptive, enervating force and in shaking up the way we manage our health such that we are blown into an era of participatory-medicine with equanimity between all stakeholders, then all is as it should be. Social media is disruptive. Yes. Social media is also Darwinian. This is about survival of the fittest and we improve our health when we push ourselves forward.
So I’m pushing. I guess I am an evangelist after all.
Let’s begin by getting some of the basics out of the way. We can nomenclature and jargon away, of course, but in pure-form (I’m a Medical Biochemist so I naturally default to a crystallised product) here are the basics to get us all to the same starting-point:
When I’m not hijacking websites, I am a Senior Healthcare Digital Consultant who spends a rather large part of my working day convincing clients about what social media can do for them. We run through ROIs, KPIs, CSFs, MCM and a cornucopia of other acronyms that probably dazzle and daze in equal measure. We agonise over whether we will reach HCPs, engage with KOLs, steer-clear and safe of the regulatory hurdles and speak persuasively and scientifically in ‘140 or less’. And we care about how we are perceived to put the customer at the centre of all this – customer-centric marketing, the e-empowered patient, the patient as the new KOL. While I’m working with colleagues to generate sparkling digital strategy to over-complicate a relationship, the use of social media by patients has simply marched along triumphantly. Patients have used social media in a single desire to share stories that use digital tools rather than being overwhelmed by what the return on the tool might be. I am simply thrilled, therefore, that we are even having the discussion through this next week about which, where, what patient and HCP communities, tools, trackers, social media campaigns we should seek to highlight and build upon. I’m delighted that we are moving into a state of ‘digital ubiquity’ where using social media to facilitate a dialogue with patients between HCPs and the pharmaceutical industry is becoming expected rather than feared.
There is an origin to my relentlessness on this. Back in the mists of time – you won’t be surprised to learn that I was a questioning, information-hungry teenager whose Mother had just had a completely disabling stroke aged 34 – and as her newly-appointed carer, I sought reasons, answers and support from the Consultant of the day. Being told, “it is too complicated for you to understand – I’m the Doctor and I’m busy” was likely the button that pressed a determination to alter such attitude towards ‘non-HCPs’.
The story I’ve just shared demonstrates exactly what social media has done to give patients a right to run their health. It is a classic therapy exercise to give your teenage-self some words-of-wisdom. Here’s what I’d advise ... a digital revolution is coming, you’ll have access to all the medical information you need; at your fingertips you’ll be connected to communities that can give you practical tips for better health and you’ll be able to reach directly to medical researchers and drug developers to determine the best course of treatment. You will have a voice and you will have a space where listening happens. In 2012, thanks to the rapid development of digital tools, trackers and time-invested in communities and forums, you will be a ‘Connected Protagonist’ telling your story for the greater good and connected to Medical Leaders in real-time, influential relationships. Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet, broadcast a summary of the value of the digital revolution value most recently when he tweeted,“this is for everyone”. These four words epitomize what social media has done for us. Better health is in our hands.
So, grab your hats, button your coats, pull on your trainers ... let’s hit the week running.
Are you with me?
Emma D’Arcy trained as a Medical Biochemist and following a 15year career as a Medical Writer and Communication Specialist is currently a Senior Healthcare Consultant at Complete Digital (a company of McCann Health). An early advocate of the ability of social media to enhance health communication and management, Emma lobbies and helps the pharmaceutical industry to engage with patients and HCPs in the digital space. Emma is widely-published about social media in health – including articles in the BMJ, PLOS, JMM, BostonJournal and has chaired/presented at multiple conferences about improvement in patient-pharma-physician relationships via new media. Emma describes herself as a ‘happy-depressive’ because she likes oxymorons and is a Patient Ambassador for endocrine disorders. An eternal student, Emma started PhD research this year to determine the impact of social media on medicine. When you can surgically detach Emma from her computer, you will find her muddling her way through Motherhood, collecting motivational quotes and trying to keep lots of plates spinning.
Petteri Jarkka, Customer Engagement Manager at Janssen Nordic, talks to eyeforpharma about how the...
New findings suggest that if recent steps taken by the CIS countries are seen through to completion...
EU citizens are unable to afford life-saving medication due to ongoing cuts and austerity measures...