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Social Networks for Life Sciences

Valuable communication tool or just tweets and word games


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Online social networks are everywhere and healthcare is no exception. Although social networks are not new, they can now form faster and reach further than ever before, potentially transforming how doctors treat their patients and how patients and consumers manage their conditions. As patients, consumers, and physicians swap insights about medicine and treatment in online communities, the life sciences industry has a chance to get in on the conversation.

Because it is a new medium where the old regulatory rules don’t apply, the life sciences industry is sitting on the sidelines waiting for more regulatory guidance on how they can engage. However, part of the hesitation may be because the industry thinks of social networks as marketing, similar to direct-to-consumer advertising – only more targeted. In reality, social networks are promising as tools that let the company collect information from, communicate to, and collaborate with people outside company walls.

 

The new study from Deloitte Research:

  • Describes a framework for how social networks are being used today and in the future
  • Explains how social networks add value beyond marketing but across the commercial and research organization
  • Discusses survey data from industry professionals who are using or plan to use social networks
  • Explores the accelerators and barriers to social networking use in the industry
  • Identifies when it is appropriate to use a social network and for what purpose including whether a company should build it or borrow/ buy someone else’s
  • Examines the right governance and policy measures that should be in place

Overview of the Study

Deloitte Research conducted an in depth analysis of the current and future use of social networks in the life sciences industry. Industry and Health 2.0 leaders were interviewed and professionals using social networks were surveyed. Social networks are a valuable tool rather than a strategy that can be used to collect information, communicate, and collaborate with external stakeholders. There are industry applications in place right now that offer replacement value (making existing processes faster and cheaper) and incremental value (potentially developing new processes and insights). Regulatory uncertainties notwithstanding, the industry can get value from passive engagement and in some cases, actively communicating and collaborating. Risks depend on the application and the targeted audience. The forward thinking organization will consider whether a social network fits the right application, whether the audience exists and wants to engage, how to build or buy/borrow, and how to govern and manage risk.

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