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Sep282017

Studies on Prescription Drugs and Social Media

By Clive Riddle, September 29, 2017

Given that prescription drugs are perhaps the most direct-to-consumer marketed U.S. healthcare service, and pharmacies perhaps the most retail oriented distribution of health care services, social media would seem to have the greatest influence on pharmaceuticals than other healthcare sectors. PrescribeWellness this week released results of its 2017 Pharmacy Social Media Survey, which "looked at how Americans choose their pharmacy, what pharmacy services they most value, and their interest in interacting with their neighborhood pharmacists online and through social media."

Here’s what the shared from their findings:

  • 37% look to Google when looking for a pharmacy, versus 34% relying on word of mouth
  • Another 18% look to Facebook to choose a pharmacy
  • 32% look for a pharmacy with a useful website
  • 78% would consider following their pharmacist on social media— and 48% already do
  • 42% percent wish their pharmacist were more active on social media.
  • 47% say their preferred social network for interacting with their pharmacist is Facebook
  • 15% prefer Twitter in this regard and 12% prefer Instagram (12 percent)
  • 34% are interested in their pharmacist’s website
  • 25% would be interested in a pharmacy email newsletter.
  • 54% would be more inclined to use a product that their pharmacist recommended on social media

Respondents say the top benefits of following their pharmacist on social media include:

  • Deals and promotions – 58 percent
  • New offerings or services – 39 percent
  • Healthcare news – 37 percent
  • Relevant news and tips about health and wellness – 37 percent
  • Seasonal vaccine reminders – 31 percent

62% use their pharmacy’s website, with 61% using the site for refill requests; 47% for online orders; 29% for medication reminders; 29% for a medication list; 20% for online appointments; and 19% to access messages from their pharmacists, 40% say their pharmacy has a mobile app, which they use to place refill requests (48%), receive refill reminders (38%) and place orders (38%).

Moving on from pharmacies to pharmaceutical companies, earlier this year, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published to paper: Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Prescription Drugs on Mobile Devices: Content Analysis, which sought to “investigate how prescription drugs are being promoted to consumers using mobile technologies. We were particularly interested in the presentation of drug benefits and risks, with regard to presence, placement, and prominence.”

Of the mobile communications they examined, 41% were product claim communications, 22%) were reminder communications, and 37were help-seeking communications (includes information about the medical condition but not the drug name. 69% linked to branded drug websites indicating both benefits and risks, 25% linked to a landing page listing benefits but no visible risks, and 6% linked to a landing page listing risks but no visible benefits.

The Frontiers in Pharmacology journal last December published the article Perspectives for the Use of Social Media in e-Pharmamarketing which among other things concluded that "in November 2015, American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has encouraged the use of social media to improve communication and information exchange in health promotion and public health (U.S. Food and Drug Administration Social Media Policy, 2015). Foreign studies show that one in four interactions with doctor, patient, and healthcare providers in the United States is a digital contact. Patient education through social media is therefore an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to gain confidence in the company and increase the awareness of consumer when choosing a product. In this way, customer acquires knowledge about health, diseases, and treatment. In various social media channels it is possible to find information on any drug. This information is available on: websites of a manufacturer, social network brand fanpages, portals for white staff specialists. According to a study, conducted by Comscore, patients who are familiar with drug brand website often followed the recommendations for its use (20% of patients). Internet advertising also influenced the use of a drug (13.5% of patients; ROI Media, 2016). E-pharmamarketing activities in social media and in the network tend to increase. It is estimated that in the year 2016 the US pharmaceutical companies allocate for this purpose 2.48 billion dollars.”

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