Sunday, January 23, 2011

Health care and Social Media

Pharma and other heath care companies are usually quiet when it comes to social networking. To date, the best effort I have seen is from Humana (insurance company). They actually aren't present on the social networking sites, but they have built some great online content in the form of informative and interesting videos about healthcare. You can catch those here.

But, there are hundreds of companies out there that participate in health care. A recent article from BNet reports that Pfizer is making it's move into the world of social media with an active facebook page. (Some companies like Genentech have facebook pages, but no content.) Additionally, they have a blog for their scientists. Understandably, pharma companies are hesitant to enter a world where the content and messages can be generated by the customers. On the other hand, this is why being a part of social networking is so crucial. Most companies use it to connect with their customers and get feedback they wouldn't otherwise hear. The though part about pharma and healthcare participating in these forums is the lack of regulation.

Right now, the FDA and other government regulators decide what companies can say and how they can say it. The best example of this is the recent commercials for the birth control pill, Yaz. The original commercials aired, but apparently were found unclear by the FDA. So they had to release another commercial to straighten things up.
Check out the commercial:

Other errors or instances of misinformation have much more severe repercussions for the company. Fines are good example. Given the sensitive nature of their communication, Pfizer is taking great strides in connecting with customers while trying to maintain some level of regulation. As the article notes, they have launched a playbook for employees to help them make informed decisions about responding to customers and posting content. There are no re-shoots for social media so let's hope it works.

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