As doctors increasingly use public social media channels to collaborate with peers and talk about clinical and practice matters, pharmaceutical companies might start to feel increasingly disconnected from their customers. Some companies, however, are taking the opportunity to partner with healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the changing digital age and engage them as they discover new channels.
In Spain, Sanofi has taken a highly proactive approach, embracing the trend in HCPs going online and becoming an ally to digital doctors by providing them with an online resource. Xavier Olba, who leads digital strategy for Sanofi Iberia, says that it started when the company identified an unmet need among doctors.
“If you want to create an active community, you must first have a clear objective: ‘what are you going to achieve?’ If the need is covered elsewhere already then the channel is not going to be very successful,” said Olba at last week’s Doctors2.0 & You conference in Paris.
Olba explains that as the Internet is changing people’s habits and lives, health has become one of the most popular topics online. And healthcare professionals are embracing the Internet too and becoming more active: “86% of healthcare professionals use the Internet every day as a professional tool,” he says. “The need is to make things more efficient, to support the healthcare system. Digital tools will provide for this need.”
A free training programme
Sanofi’s solution to this is Campus Sanofi, available as a website and mobile app, which the company describes as a free training programme for healthcare professionals who want to take full advantage of the Internet, social networks and other digital tools to help them optimise their daily practice and improve patient management.
The promise to doctors is that with Campus Sanofi you will:
• Take your first steps on the Internet
• Strengthen your digital presence in social networks
• Optimize the search for information and keep up with your interests
• Communicate with your patients outside your practice
• Collaborate online with other colleagues
• Know best practices in Health 2.0
Figure 1: Campus Sanofi is a non-profit resource to teach HCPs in Spain how to make the most out of social media
At a time when increasing numbers of healthcare professionals in Spain are using public social media channels, Sanofi’s choice to support their customers by up-skilling them through an online training programme in a non-medical area allows the company to develop collaborative relationships that avoid commercial or product discussions.
A non-profit offering
“Campus Sanofi is a non-profit offering for healthcare professionals,” says Olba. Nevertheless, having the name of a pharma company in such an initiative can be a barrier for doctors taking part, he says, so it has taken time to develop a trusted relationship.
Two years since its launch, Campus Sanofi has gained 7,500 registered users, with average visit time on the site at just under seven minutes. Olba says that the tool has played a role in improving Sanofi’s brand reputation among doctors and opened new doors to engage important stakeholders, with an extensive database of contacts engaged via email.
Promote the benefit, not the technology
Sanofi has also learned lessons through the programme about how to teach people about digital engagement. “The most important thing is not so much to teach the technology, but to teach the benefit that will be achieved through using digital tools,” says Olba. “Then, you can teach first steps: social media management; engaging other users; how to collaborate; how to engage patients.”
Campus Sanofi provides multiple levels of learning tools so that each doctor can learn at the right level. Olba says that the educational content is designed to be easy to use, in formats including video tutorials, infographics and presentations made with Prezi.
Among the practical tools provided for healthcare professionals to improve their social media skills, Sanofi has set up an agreement with LinkedIn, to provide a training programme for doctors on how to use the professional networking tool.
Campus Sanofi’s engagement with healthcare professionals goes beyond the digital classroom, too. Offline meetings between users are organised, where users of the platform share personal experiences face-to-face.
As Sanofi continues to develop its social media training programme for healthcare professionals, its vision for the future includes focusing on specialities, providing specialist training for groups such as pharmacists, cardiologists, or oncologists. And after its launch in Spain and Portugal, the Campus Sanofi platform is set to grow internationally too.
By becoming an active member of the online HCP community, Sanofi has taken the lead among pharmaceutical companies. Campus Sanofi is a practical example of a commercial healthcare company going out of its way, investing in a long-term programme addressing real needs of doctors and developing trust through useful, relevant engagement.
Lessons from Sanofi
As HCPs worldwide increasingly use public social media channels to collaborate with peers, share ideas and solve clinical cases, companies like Sanofi, who become allies with digitally-engaged doctors, will gain valuable insights into the needs and behaviours of their customers.
The opportunity today for all healthcare companies is to observe what HCPs do online; listen to what they say; identify the key influencers and build loyal, collaborative relationships by responding to their expressed needs.
This article was originally posted on pharmaphorum.