‘How can ‘Health 2.0’ tools and social media channels improve healthcare?’ is one of the questions addressed by the Doctors 2.0 and You conference, whose third edition took place in Paris last June. Creation Healthcare participated in the event as media and research partners, presenting the results of a 1-year digital study on HCP conversations about cardiovascular disease.
The event was attended by a variety of stakeholders from the healthcare industry, with an emphasis on participatory medicine, and understanding ‘digital doctors’, their preferred channels, and behaviour in online communities, whether we are talking about closed, specialist networks such as Sermo, or open Twitter chats, such as #FOAMED.
I asked my colleagues Daniel Ghinn and Paul Grant to share some of their thoughts on the conference as well as the current state of ‘health 2.0’, as they saw it, with me.
What I found especially helpful about the diversity of the participants was the fact that non-Western-centric perspectives on the subject of Health 2.0 were not overlooked, as they sometimes tend to be at conferences taking place in Europe. As a consultancy that studies HCP communities and conversations globally, it is always of great help to get an additional perspective from the founders of such networks, or at least from the people who help shape them.
As such, I was very intrigued to find out that the behaviour of Russian speaking physicians registered on iVrach.com somewhat reflected the overall digital behaviour of internet users in Russia, who, according to Oxana Kolosova (founder of iVrach), spend an average of 6 hours a day on social media platforms. The Russian-speaking HCP community, which includes members from over 28 countries, is characterised by visits of above average duration – doctors spend about 20 minutes each time they visit the network, whether this is discussing difficult clinical cases or arguing the merits of alternative medicine, which has traditionally been a hot topic on the platform.
Stanley (Tiantian) Li, the founder of the Chinese HCP community dxy.cn, one of the largest HCP networks in the world, presented a few of the platform’s main features. Interestingly, it seems that quite a few features on the website are influenced by functions present on open social media networks such as the popular Chinese social media network Sina Weibo. So on dxy.cn, users can opt to ‘follow’ other users whose advice and posts they find useful. The academic portal also has an associated iPhone and Android app that provides comprehensive clinical information on a variety of medicines, and a Recruitment section called JobMD, which helps healthcare and pharma companies find the right candidates to fill their vacancies.
In addition to presentations on healthcare professional social networks, Paul and Daniel also spoke to individual doctors present at the conference and the resulting discussions confirmed our recent suspicions: engaging doctors pre- and –post medical congresses and symposiums on social networks such as Twitter is an effective way of reaching out to, and engaging with important members of the medical community, members who may potentially turn out to be digital opinion leaders.
This is confirmed by Twitter – we can see that there are a number of medical event oriented hashtags in use at the moment. For example, the Seventh International Congress On Peer Review And Biomedical Publication, that uses the hashtag #PRC7, is still being talked about on Twitter, even though the event ended two days ago. As can be seen below, HCPs who choose to share their thoughts and resources post-congress are speaking to one another about publication and editorial bias in various pieces of medical media.
The conference certainly confirmed that both doctors and patients are leading the way in terms of innovation in healthcare, from livestreaming surgical procedures with the help of Google Glass, like Dr. Raquel Grossman (one of the speakers at the event), to the creation of social platforms that help humanise long hospital stays, like Hôpital Affinité. The latter is a website created by Julian Artu, a patient based in Paris who suffered a car accident and founded the website to help patients in hospitals meet each other virtually.
Furthermore, the presence of the healthcare start-up competition was a great opportunity for small companies to showcase what they were doing in the health arena, and further highlights the exciting changes in this space, especially at a time when even the UK government recognises the need to invest more money in order to help entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector.
All in all, everyone seemed to agree that online conversations can improve health outcomes, but there are, of course, a couple of challenges that still need to be addressed, one of them being regulatory compliance, both from a pharma perspective, as well as an HCP one. Issues pertaining to this can range from concerns about not giving too much patient health information away, to concerns about the discovery of adverse events online.
Creation Healthcare is a market research consultancy for the digital healthcare age, with a special interest in learning from HCP behaviours and fifteen years’ experience advising pharmaceutical companies about commercial insights, engagement strategy and regulatory compliance. Find out more about competitive intelligence studies using Creation Pinpoint.