A Guide For Effective Detailing

When it comes to detailing, there are a lot of different factors pharma pales reps have to take into consideration. There are a lot of different circumstances that influence what type of presentation a sales rep can give, assuming getting the opportunity to present something of course. A lot of times even getting the physicians divided attention takes a lot of effort. So because all the possible difficulties, reps have to be prepared for a number of scenarios and have to be flexible readjusting their detail plan along the way.

The infographic below helps to decide what kind of approach is fit for different situations. You can prepare the most cutting edge e-detailing presentation, if there is no time or place to show it to the physician, you have to do your best verbally. No access to physicians always seems to be an obstacle, in which case maybe it is more effective to send the details electronically so that the doctors can view them on their own schedule.

Here are the main pain points pharma representatives face on a daily basis and the possible solutions to overcome these obstacles:

 

(Source: Healthcarecommunication.com)

Strategic Change, Value Innovation and Drimpy.com – Interview with Rob Halkes

Rob Halkes has been working as a consultant in healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing for 20 years. He gained experience in the industry focusing on strategic change, professional development and innovation in pharma. He is also part of the development team of the integrated healthcare platform, Drimpy. We asked him to share his insights on the changing environment of the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare.

You have been urging strategic change in the pharmaceutical industry. Why is this issue important and what kind of specific changes do you think pharma companies should consider?

Because of the current economic situation, the trend in healthcare will be “more care for less money”. For all governments in healthcare in Europe, it is easy to cut costs on pharmaceutical products. So we see an enormous pressure in a lot of countries, not only in the Western countries, but in the Eastern countries of Europe as well. We see a lot of pressure on cutting and reducing prices and on the replacement and substitution of premium and specialty products with generic pharmaceutical products. To the pharmaceutical companies it will mean that they are trying to sell their products in the context of a commodity trap. The commodity trap is an economic phrase that implicates that prices for premium products will be inflated by upcoming generics or cheaper products. If you go along with the trend to make cheaper products or to sell your products for cheaper prices, you will find yourself in a downward spiral. The pharmaceutical companies have no tradition in trying to innovate their marketing approach other than just creating new products, submitting those to the market and introducing those at a higher price. And now premium innovative products are being replaced by generics. So although you may have made or developed very good innovative pharmaceutical products, those will tend to be replaced by generic ones. The market of specialty products merges with the market for OTC or generic products. The only solution to escape the commodity trap is to innovate your marketing approach.

That can be done if you are willing and competent to make a strategic change towards helping the doctors to treat their patients better. Helping means a two-step process: not just helping doctors to prescribe your product, but helping doctors with your product to be able to help patients better. Then you can convince the prescribers that there is more to your product than just the product itself, that you are also actively supporting the doctors to innovate their caring for the patients to support them better.  This added value could be the reason for a higher price instead of going down with the commodity trap. This is difficult for pharmaceutical companies because for 20 years now they have been on the same business model of promoting new products for higher prices – that will come to an end now. That is only one issue of all difficulties that present themselves to pharmaceutical companies.

More strict regulation of promotion, lesser access to prescribers, upcoming generics and new stakeholders – these are other issues in the pharmaceutical industry that need to be mentioned. Governments, healthcare insurance companies, payers and patients are all new stakeholders that will come to the market with a clearer voice that they want better products for a better care. Hence, strategic change is necessary when it comes to changing market conditions and the way the conditions and caring for health are changing in different countries. Adapting to the conditions in specific countries will become relevant. The European affiliates will have to design their approach according to the local conditions of care.

You also developed a new business model called “value innovation” for the pharmaceutical industry. Could you describe this concept?

The approach of value innovation that I developed in the Netherlands has very clear results. We can show graphics of the outcome and how obvious the changes and results are. Through these results the model speaks for itself. The approach of value innovation is based on two principles:

The first is that as a pharma company you have to support your healthcare providers – doctors, specialists and pharmacists – to help their patients better by improving their way of caring for the patients. There are two concepts for this kind of care: integrated care and participatory care. That’s the first principle: innovate for your healthcare providers to help them improve the way in which they are performing their care for health. It might look as though you are mingling with their business. But in our experience healthcare providers mostly don’t have time to reflect on how they are providing care. When you help them with expertise, training and other services, you will be appreciated as someone who is caring for their interests and is acting on their behalf. When you do so with integrity, you will gain a different market position: a trusted one. It will reimburse you through the attention that your product is getting from them as being your partners in the business of caring for patients. For a lot of companies this will be a change in their selling approach. They have to learn how to submit and propose those services, because it differs much from just detailing.

The second principle is based on the necessity to differentiate between your targeted doctors: between those who will readily appreciate what you are doing, and those who will not. Most of the pharmaceutical companies already segment their priority doctors as to their individual potential for business. I propose to extend this to differentiate between those who have an innovative stance to healthcare development and those who don’t. In a changing landscape of healthcare, those who do want to improve their way of caring for patients will often collaborate with colleagues to approach innovation in care cooperatively. We see examples in health care groups, like “Zorggroepen” in the Netherlands, the Policlinics or medical centers in Germany or the GP consortia in the UK. We developed a segmentation procedure with which you can target the GP centers that are the most influential and have the most potential to cooperate with as a pharmaceutical company. The benefit for those that do want to work with you will be that patients and other stakeholders in care will notice that by working together in a co-creative way, it is possible to create better outcomes of care with less cost. It will lead to a higher satisfaction for patients and for a lower cost of patient per year in specific care programs, especially for chronic care. And if you can demonstrate, that you as a pharmaceutical company are helping the healthcare system in this direction, you will get a lot of attention that will lead to a position of preference that will help your business as well.

So actually the change will be from a purely product-oriented approach toward a patient- and healthcare-oriented position. And that is an orientation that healthcare providers and doctors will recognize as a change from selling toward helping.

Last October you showcased Drimpy.com at the Health 2.0 Europe conference. Could you tell us about this project and its aims?

This particular project is two years old now. We started it with the founder and owner of Drimpy, Arnold Breukhoven in the Netherlands. He had the idea of a health platform for integrated care in which patients could communicate better and have a better relationship through the online network with healthcare providers. We did see this not only as a necessity from the patients’ point of view but also from doctors’ perspective. Data and information from the patient is relevant for the doctor to act upon. Doctors often want to get information from a patient that the patient isn’t able to generate readily. He hasn’t been tracking his health parameters before the consult, doesn’t know precisely how often he has suffered from certain conditions, is not aware of the medication he actually uses, etc. With Drimpy the patient is able to collect and monitor his health parameters like blood pressure, sugar level, daily complaints, pain sensations, etc. and record his health-related information, medications, conditions, allergies, as well as store his health related documents (documents made by the patient himself, documents received from the lab or from the hospital, for example an x-rays). So a lot of data and information can be added and tracked on the platform that will help a doctor to diagnose the patient and implement a therapy in a much more effective and satisfactory way. Furthermore, the platform not only functions as a personal health record, but also as a communication device in which the patients and caregivers can communicate and interact privately.  Naturally, Drimpy also facilitates specific applications to support the patient and his/her loved ones with adequate and reliable information to help them understand and better cope with their conditions. It supports them in compliance-related activities as well. In doing so Drimpy works as an Ehealth platform, safely and reliably.

The site is firstly based on the principle of being an integrated care platform: activities from the different caregivers like doctors, pharmacists and hospitals come together to the patient’s benefit. Secondly the platform is patient-based. The site is designed from a participatory point of view. Anyone who registers on the platform can do this. Thirdly, and that is the most interesting feature, the patient has a private network that he/she can develop for people to be a part of his/her healthcare team, and to give them access to certain personal health information. The platform is set up like a private Facebook so the patient can select people that he wants to share information with and add those who want to help him in coping with his conditions. Drimpy.com is thus an integrated healthcare platform that is managed by the patient himself being in the position to select and keep the data that he wants to track and to invite and work with those caregivers who he wants to work with. Drimpy puts the patient in the position to set up his healthcare in a participatory way.

The digital ways of setting up a network like you just described in connection with Drimpy.com seem to work for patients and doctors. How do you see the pharmaceutical companies in this mix? How do they usually react to these digital solutions in your experience?

First of all, when it comes to Drimpy we see the site as a platform with which it is possible to organize the processes of care, to organize the caring for health itself. Making it clearer for the patient what the doctor is doing during the treatment is important because the patient has to work with the doctor to set up and complete his therapy. This will result in a better understanding between both parties about what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they will proceed. So it enlightens all the processes of care and makes telemonitoring and telecare possible. That will at least reduce the time spent on unnecessary face-to-face consults. It will enable them both to be efficient with face-to-face time. As a result the doctor will have more time to attend to difficult patients rather than to routinely work through consults that are actually not needed. The doctors and patients can reserve consults for those situations where they are necessary to optimize the therapy. This makes everything more rationalistic and more efficient. The point of course, is to have doctors and patients learn about how they can do this, and to customize the platform towards the specific needs of chronic conditions like diabetes or COPD, etc. The pharmaceutical companies can offer this facility to the doctors as a service from their side. With Drimpy they have a very distinguishing service to deliver to doctors. When they do, I’m sure doctors will be surprised and thankful to get help with implementing this version of telehealth in their practice, so they can help their patients with more satisfaction.

We talked about a lot of new trends: strategic change, new business models, new platforms and ways of talking to doctors from the pharmaceutical companies’ point of view. How do you see all these trends changing in the next year?

I presume that healthcare providers – doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists – will be quicker to adopt social media for the benefit of improving care and their relationship with patients. And pharmaceutical companies will be next. That is because healthcare providers – as we see in the Western countries – will understand that social media is relevant to their practice. Social media, integrated in healthcare processes will become more and more popular. In the near future one will not be able to work without them. Social media will help doctors to distinguish their position and help them in reaching out to their patients. They will first adopt social media in a web 1.0 and then 2.0 fashion, and then in a more integrated way as we have seen it with Drimpy. Drimpy itself facilitates healthcare providers to quickly integrate social media into their practices.

Pharmaceutical companies have to cross a threshold to change their business. That is a huge task for them, and to also look at the internal condition of the pharmaceutical companies. Because it is still very tricky for them – as they perceive it – to change in ways in which they are actually delivering services to doctors to help their patients better. Providing service in this way is a way of doing business that they are not accustomed to. They will be reluctant because they see that it will be a big change. As one of our pharmaceutical affiliates in the Netherlands said: “The hard thing is not so much to change towards the local conditions of the Dutch market, it is more difficult to get an approval to do so from the European headquarters.” It seems that changing the internal conditions of a pharmaceutical company is harder than to just change into a country-based marketing approach. But luckily we are in a position to work with pharmaceutical companies to show them how they might embark on this adventure and we can also learn from examples in other countries, like the UK or Germany. We can show them how they can present themselves in difficult situations and how they can move further towards solutions that would help their business as well.

You mentioned that pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to change their ways of doing business. In your experience what are the main obstacles that they mention when it comes to implementing a new model or new marketing solutions?

Well, the main obstacle is to adopt the vision that you can do your business in a different way than you have been doing until now. The pharmaceutical industry has one of the most traditional ways of doing business in the Western world. These companies have not changed in the sense of adapting their businesses according to the market conditions for the last 10, or maybe 15 years. And the pharma rep model in which they are promoting the product in detail conversations with doctors is the most sustainable business model that we have seen. They are so accustomed to it, that it is very hard to implement any change. So this is where we provide assistance. We have a concrete and specific way in which we can guide them step by step to change their ways of marketing in order to change in a manageable way instead of changing overnight in a troublesome way. Guidance is important to change, so that the development of the business doesn’t disrupt the outcome. The most difficult steps are to learn how you should do these things differently, to try to experiment with it carefully and to build up a new company and new sales force.

Change is a very difficult thing to do, not only for pharmaceutical companies but for doctors as well. Local market conditions will show them that past performances will not sustain their business for the future automatically. You have to implement the changes that are necessary in the framework of the system of healthcare and its renewal. When these changes emerge, pharmaceutical companies either get lost in the market or they adapt to these changing conditions, partner with healthcare providers and help them to provide better care in their countries. The ones that are daring to take the first step towards the changes are the ones that learn how to change and provide this specific support. This very competence will be strategic in the years to come. The first ones to move will have this advantage over their competition. If you wait until others have changed, you can only pick up what’s left over in the market. The first ones have the benefit of choice and of learning how to proceed. Going on with following a routine is easy, making the changes, learning how to do things differently is however one of the most difficult things for people to do.

(You can connect with Rob Halkes on Twitter.)

New Trends In The Hungarian Pharmaceutical Industry

As we pointed out in our previous blog post, 2012 has several changes in store for pharmaceutical companies. The healthcare reform defined by the Semmelweis and Széll Kálmán plans mean comprehensive structural transformation for the entire field.

Changes in the pharmaceutical representative system – the increasing importance of HR

The new decisions effect pharmaceutical representatives most negatively, because the return of investment on the personal meetings with physicians is considerably lower, mainly because of the „additional taxes” that the industry has to face in Hungary. According to the new rulings that came to effect in the middle of 2011 the turnover tax rose from 12% to 20% and pharmaceutical companies have to pay a yearly 10 Million HUF amount after every representative providing product information to physicians and pharmacists. According to the data of GYEMSZI (Institute of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Quality and Organisation Development) in the beginning of 2011 there were 2 600 pharmaceutical representatives working in Hungary. This number dropped to 2 100 by the end of the year.

In 2012 the HR support of the remaining representatives will be even more important. According to the in-depth interviews carried out by Szinapszis Ltd. among pharmaceutical representatives it has to be a priority in the future to further involve representatives in sales strategies, so they get more comprehensive insights about the entire process. When using personal representative meetings and alternative sales tools simultaneously, the initiation and training of reps are critical, so they don’t look at the new tools as rivals, but as „sales partners” – while supporting the goals of the pharmaceutical management.

The new ePatient appears

The internet plays a key role when people, patients are seeking health-related information. The patient who is constantly searching the web for information appears in the healthcare system as a (more or less) conscious customer, and these new patients or e-patients need their doctors to participate in the communication process as well – creating new challenges for healthcare professionals, since old-fashioned one-way „communication” needs to be replaced by two-sided consultations.

More informed patients have higher expectations of the quality of healthcare, which results of these patients appearing more frequently in the private sector of the healthcare system.

This group of patients create a new target for pharmaceuticals since there is a new opportunity for directed non-expert communication – and not only in the field of OTC treatments.

Improving patient non-adherence – with legislative tools

A so-called patient-compliance program is part of the restricting initiatives proposed for pharmaceuticals in 2012, this program will be introduced first among patients with vascular problems and chronic lung conditions. According to the new initiative patients who want to pay the same amount for their medications they used to need to improve their health parameters with exercise, a healthy diet and lifestyle, and with regularly taking their medications – with losing weight and quitting smoking. Therefore in 2012 the role of patient-compliance programs assumed to become more emphasized.

But when it comes to the improvement of concordance about treatment options physicians are pessimistic: almost 75% of them don’t believe that the before mentioned policies and other initiatives aimed to strengthen the co-operation will result in a better doctor-patient collaboration in the following 2 years.

The more substantial role of pharmacists

Among other things the expansion of generics and the introduction of active ingredient-based prescriptions will further strengthen the role of pharmacists in the future, even more so in sales. Observing the efficiency of pharmacy sales is going to be a crucial, which means measurement of these areas (like mystery shopping) is going to be more significant in 2012.

(Katalin Kiss)

Pharmaceutical Industry In Hungary And The Challenges Of 2012

The Hungarian pharmaceutical industry had a rather hectic year, and 2012 seems to promise some new challenges as well. The different steps of healthcare reform have been summarized by the Semmelweis- and Széll Kálmán Plans. These proposals introduced and initiated numerous arrangements, that change the basis of healthcare, as well as the internal operation and marketing strategy of pharmaceutical companies. Not only have the target groups of communication changed, but even the nature of communication channels directed and applied to them are new.

The previous one-way communication directed only towards physicians is being replaced by a new strategy with more performers, including pharmacists, patients and customers, who all have an important role in the communication process.

Observing the different channels of communication, the significant growth of the role that the internet plays is obvious. In our experience the members of the market are interested, more or less open to online solutions, but at the same time uncertainty is prominent mainly because of the lack of experience in Hungary.

The new legislative regulations in Hungary are essentially strengthening the digital trends. Because of the forced axes on the number of representatives finding other, alternative sales activities to substitute the work of reps is crucial.

There are numerous tools for companies when it comes to sales and communication, but it is also very important to find the right toolkit – with the appropriate form and content – to meet the needs of the target audience. The opinions and attitudes of physicians about alternative channels are typically known, majority of them are open, or can be convinced about the advantages and possibilities provided by these new tools. In the meantime in-depth research to segment, and to observe the special needs of the target groups is going to be even more valuable.

Are you open to getting information through the following, new channels?

Multimedia presentation showed on tablet/iPad during personal visits

Source: Szinapszis MediJournalTrack 2011 (n=909)

Pharmaceutical decision makers also realize the necessity of online communication with physicians and patients, but their high level of mistrust toward this area is obvious which is typically caused by the lack of experience in Hungary. In the future agencies providing online solutions will have to try to ease the anxiety and to answer the emerging questions of decision makers.

(Katalin Kiss)

Physicians Shouldn’t Shy Away From Online Reviews

There have been reports about physicians trying to avoid a negative online reputation by getting their patients sign a contract where they give up their right to provide any information about their doctor on any internet platform. This is only a way to turn our backs to the issue and not concentrating on the main goal of a practice: to provide quality patient care where the doctor doesn’t have to be afraid of bad reviews.

Since in healthcare people are treating people, the patient experiences are not going to be black and white. But if the majority of patients are satisfied, even a few bad reviews can’t destroy one’s reputation. This is one case where prevention is not better than cure.

There is information about your practice whether you like it or not, mostly reviews provided by your patients online. Portals focusing mainly on patient experience are getting more and more recognition and attention. They are rapidly becoming the top search results on Google. Physicians have a choice to make: try to stop this trend or monitor and contribute content themselves.

Let’s be honest: stopping patients to look for and spread healthcare-related information on the internet is a task more fit for an imaginary character with unlimited time and energy than for a doctor with a busy schedule. There is no sign that suggests the decline of interest in patients-created anecdotes online. People like to search for information about a physician and usually they get what they’re looking for in patient-created content.

So instead of trying to put a stop on people turning to the internet with healthcare-related questions (obviously this is out of a physician’s power), doctors should be proactive and provide useful information about their practices. Having a user-friendly website about their practice and monitor online content about their work is not optional anymore. Whether physicians take part in it or not, whether they try to discourage patients to review them online, they can’t erase their online presence. But they can choose to have a say in what is there to be found about them on the internet.

(Source of image: Manage Your Online Reputation)

Alarming Level Of Non-Adherence

Recently I came across an alarming data on non-adherence: according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) 25% of people above 50 are not taking their medications as prescribed if they take them at all.

Rather than worrying about the sky-rocketing healthcare costs and revenues we should ask, what makes patients stop a treatment and go against their physician’s advice. Is it only the price of the medication or is it a consequence of miscommunication? And if so, what is pharma doing to find a solution for whatever the problem might be?

  1. First of all the cause of non-complience has to be clear. To be able to act on it one needs to know the real nature of the problem. It might sound obvious, but surprisingly it is often overlooked. To determine the reason for non-adherence pharma and healthcare need feedback from patients. This of course requires communication and listening which to this day seem to be challenging.
  2. Communication: The reason behind stopping a treatment could be the lack of information about certain drugs. A lot of patients end up leaving the doctor’s office not entirely understanding what they have been told. With the constantly decreasing visit times accurate knowledge about a treatment is hard to provide. It has to be a crucial goal to get through to patients and make sure they have all the information they need to successfully complete or maintain a treatment.
  3. Financial solutions: Non-complience can also root from financial difficulties. Healthcare providers, pharma, insurance companies have to be able to work together to find a better system to help patients in need to pay for their medication. To imply that patients come first and not collaborating for a more sufficient way for them to finance their medications is simply misleading.
  4. Marketing tools for adherence: Marketers often focus on the great results and advantages of taking a certain drug. They often forget to emphasize that partial treatment is not a treatment. Through conventional marketing, social media platforms and educational portals pharma has great tools to inform patients and advertise adherence. These tools could be the base of comprehensive compliance campaigns.

(Source: World of DTC Marketing)

Technology In Healthcare – Addition Not Substitute

These days you can’t read enough about all the new high-tech inventions, breakthrough technologies and how they influence medicine. There are conferences, journals and giant companies built around the effort of introducing more effective it and tech solutions  for treating patients. Some of these efforts are truly groundbreaking and make practicing medicine more accurate and successful. But in the midst of it all, we can’t forget that technology should be an additional and not a substitutional tool.

Doctor visits are already receiving a lot of criticism that point out how little time is spent discussing a treatment plans, new medications and in general the patient’s complaints. In fact recent studies showed that physicians spend an average 49 seconds telling patients what they need to know about starting a new drug treatment. Only 35% of them address the possible adverse effects and 34% tell their patient exactly how long to take the medicine. Studies also point out that around half of the patients leave the doctor’s office not entirely understanding what their physician told them. Research also found that next to physician’s technical skills their ability to communicate effectively with patients is just as important for having a trusting relationship between doctors and patients.

So with these problems already existing in the examination rooms and doctors’ offices the last thing we need is to have a more distant and uncommunicative physician-patient relationship. Technology is not there to take the place of discussing problems and talking through treatment options. It is there to help doctors see and picture what they otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. New technologies are there to improve healthcare not to blindfold physicians and take center position away from patients.

This train of thought was also represented at TED Global Conference by Abraham Verghese MD while emphasizing the role of the human touch and paying closer attention to patients during their visits. You wouldn’t necessarily think of an advice like this at TED, usually a very tech-focused event. But the speech below proves that you can have both: technology and personal relationship between physicians and patients. Because technology in healthcare should be additional and not substitutional.

(Source: CNN.com)

Basic Attributes For Collaborative Healthcare

We can agree that more and more patients look for information themselves, or look into what their doctor says during a visit – but that doesn’t mean that trust between physician and patient is not important, that the empowered patient doesn’t need to be convinced that his/her doctor is competent and caring. Just the opposite. A great deal of trust needed in a time when achieving health becomes a shared goal and experience for doctors and patients.

But what is this trust based on? How do patients develop this trust for their physician, what do they take into consideration? According to a recent blog post on Mind The Gap the trust in doctors is based on three attributes:

  • The physician’s clinical skills
  • The physician’s communication skills
  • The patient is the number one concern of the doctor (without any other motives involved)

Because patients are usually not clinically trained (although more and more informed), they rely mostly on the second and third attributes when trusting their doctors. And that’s why it is crucial to spend enough time focusing on the dialogue with the patients, asking and answering questions and discussing any kind of concern they may have.

It is not surprising that communication is key for patients at this point. We are far gone from the idea that patients are not allowed to have an opinion, or any kind of knowledge about their condition or treatment options. Healthcare became more like a collaboration and as such people participating (doctors and patients) have to find a way to talk, communicate and discuss.

This is why it is alarming to see that the amount of time spent on a visit is rapidly decreasing. This is why it is frightening to know that even an important subject like taking a new drug is discussed in 49 short seconds. It is not enough to possess clinical skills and a great amount of information. Physicians also need to know how to pass on that information and earn their patients’ trust to achieve better outcomes and a well-operating collaborative healthcare.

(Source: Mind The Gap)

Poor Communication Equals Non-Compliance

In a recent post on Mind The Gap, a blog dedicated to investigate the quality, or in this case poor quality of communication between physicians and patients, I stumbled upon some alerting data about how much these shortcomings effect compliance. We long knew that being informed and engaged in health increases adherence. But the magnitude of consequences of not providing comprehensive information about new medication was shocking.

Here are some of the sobering facts (also shown on the infographic below):

  • While 50% of the US population takes at least one medication and 85% of seniors have one or more chronic conditions, only 50% of patients are taking their pills as directed.
  • Even more astonishing, that 70% of non-compliance is intentional. The reasons are the following: disbelief in diagnosis and severity of health problem, concerns about side affects – all of which could be discussed during a visit.
  • Doctors spend an average 49 seconds (yes, that’s not even a minute) giving information about a new drug they prescribe.
  • They only tell patients how long to take their pills 34% of the time. In as low as 35% of the cases they spend time mentioning the adverse effects and only 9% of the time they talk about the price of the drug.

 

(Source: Mind The Gap)

Introducing Social Media To Hospitals

Convincing hospital representatives to engage in social media can be a tough job. You have to brace yourself to meet numerous skeptical healthcare professionals who just don’t see the opportunity in using social sites. They probably look at you like someone, who’s bad news. Who brings them extra work on top of the million things they need to handle every day. So when you do try to talk them into trying social media, you better have some effective intellectual weapons to convince your audience.

A recent blog post used a very apt example on how you can introduce social media so your introduction leaves a lasting effect. Think about it as a scientific discovery that questions findings from the past. You have to prepare yourself to demolish the old beliefs that are built in the approach of healthcare professionals and that have been the core of the medical profession for decades. New ideas take time to become a part of a field with a tradition that dates back so far.

So the above mentioned post suggests the following:

  • Get to know the communication tools that have been used in the hospital before. You have to know the history of hospital communication to decide on the next step. The experience with different approaches could determine the right path for a hospital or health organisation.
  • Connect with every kind of healthcare professional who is responsible for outreach. These people know the audience, they are the ones who have to be convinced. Most likely they are going to be the key when it comes to engaging with patients.
  • Outline the use of social media in a simple way and use local data to prove its importance. Simplicity is always a plus, especially when it comes to technology. A lot of time the reason behind hesitance is the fear of not being able to deal with technology and online tools. Show easy to use applications to boost confidence within medical groups. It is also important to emphasize, that these applications and sites are already very popular around us.
  • Use respected sources. Especially in the medical field it is always helpful to lean on guidelines and opinions from sources that are already enjoy the respect of the professionals.
  • Social media is a rapidly changing field, don’t be scared of new data. Stay up to date, and be prepared to answer questions about social media. Articulate, that this is an exciting territory that is always evolving. Point out that this is more an advantage than a disadvantage.

These suggestions may seem obvious, but I feel it could help to think about them from time to time, so when it comes to convincing medical professionals to embrace social media, we have our reasons and resources ready.

(Source: Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News)