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Your Input Needed: Social Pharmer Talk Re: Transparency & Openness In Pharma Social Media Powered Activities



Next week, I will be speaking at a very special “unconference” produced by Shwen Gwee of Vertex, titled “Social Pharmer - Sowing the Seeds of Social Media in Pharma and Healthcare.”  I will be joined by some wonderful people and speakers, including Mark Senak, Steve Woodruff, Jack Barrette and Josh Bernoff.

The topic of my talk will be “Achieving Openness - Transparency and Authenticity in Pharma.”  My talk will be the first session of the day and will focus on themes I’m sure we’ll be discussing throughout the day.  

Most of the talks I’ve given have been pretty standard affairs.  Normally, I make some remarks and take questions from the audience afterward.  The unconference format is a bit different, as we are focusing on engaging as many people as possible in conversation and dialogue.  As a result, I’d like to incorporate your comments and suggestions into my talk.  I plan to work on my presentation late this week (and likely over the weekend), so you have a few days to get back to me with your thoughts.  There are several issues I’d like to cover in my talk.  Your answers will help ensure I’m hitting all of the right angles.  They are:

-What should a truly open pharmaceutical company look like?

-How transparent should we expect pharmaceutical companies to be?  

-Is it possible for a pharmaceutical company to be agile and flexible enough to truly engage people using social media in an open and transparent way?

-Is waiting for the FDA to develop social media marketing guidance like “Waiting for Godot?” What steps should pharmaceutical companies be taking individually and collectively to move the needle forward on developing standards of behavior and activity using social media? (See John Mack’s recent podcast on this issue for more information).

-What should true believers within pharmaceutical companies be doing to help their peers become psychologically prepared to engage in activities that may not bear fruit for a long period of time?

-How can we move from experimentation to true integration of social media technologies into the DNA of pharmaceutical companies?

-Should pharma marketers be thinking about corporate reputation even if they are engaging in activities on behalf of a particular product?

-What should pharma learn from others in the health industry who have embraced social media technologies about openness, responsiveness and transparency?

That’s all I have for now.  I’m eagerly awaiting your comments and suggestions.

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7 Comments/Trackbacks

Comments as requested on twitter -

Too much flowery language and jargon. For instance- like “Waiting for Godot?” - too esoteric. "bear fruit"

Would try to simplify and clarify. Don't make ppl guess about your point.

my $.02


Thanks for your comment. Your point re: language is well-taken, but I tend to be very clear and on-point in my talks. Right now, I'm looking for input on the questions I asked. Do you have any thoughts on the issues I raised?

It's going to be a huge cultural shift for pharma companies to embrace transparency and two-way communication. I think some nimble smaller companies and maybe some progressive mid-sized companies may be able to bake it in quicker (company-wide), but most will need to make starts like J&J (a corporate blog) with a socially-engaged PERSON (like Marc Monseau) helping create a new environment. I'd love to see pharmas also pick one product or therapeutic area to begin experimenting with more open communication with the marketplace.

However, creating the shift on a wider basis is also going to involve getting people up and down the organization involved in social media - as people - before they really try to approach the marketing aspect.

Transparency is fine as long as it serves a business purpose or at least does not interfere with shareholder value creation.

My firm was approached by HBO who was working on a documentary on Alzheimer's disease to film our management as they learned about the results of our Phase 3 trial. This was a material event (and the results were disclosed on the next business day), but having the cameras there may give people a better understanding of the drug development process--and its risks. The organization was being transparent in its willingness to share this experience.

MayoClinic has been pushing social media in the health space and because of its size has been somewhat transparent about what they want folks inside the organization to do (and to understand) vis a vis social media. You might look at some of their stuff on twitter.

In my mind social media within pharam is a double edge sword. It offers huge benefits within education and learning. At the same time it can become a shinny toy that is misused, abused, and poorly managed.

I would like to see social media extend learning post live CME activities. It is well documented that a one time educational activity does not uniformly change behavior and improve outcomes. Using social media in a closed system of learning gathered around learners seeking to find solutions to common clinical problems will benefit the education and training of those learners. It can gather learner data, expand training, foster reflection, and help physician share common experiences as part of learning. Social/text based mobile media can become communities of practice but, only when linked to an activity or web based case driven education that is based on learner needs and clinical problems.

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