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Survey results: Social influences HCP perceptions and prescriptions

What healthcare practitioners see, hear and read on social channels ranging from Facebook to private medical walled gardens can influence the prescriptions they write. That’s a key finding from research LiveWorld commissioned from Sermo, a medical social media platform.

The recent research, conducted with more than 200 U.S.-based physicians, confirmed that social channels increasingly are critical tools for reaching HCPs. That indicates pharma and healthcare marketers should treat social as a primary marketing tool and build multiple channel strategies into their marketing plans. Yet additional research by LiveWorld showed that marketers at 50 leading pharma companies are not necessarily ready to meet HCP audiences on the social channels they use.

Results from the HCP survey provide evidence that supports incorporating social as a major component of pharma and healthcare marketing efforts. Here are brief summaries of the key findings and their implications:

  • Information on specific social channels has an impact on how some HCPs write prescriptions. Whether social sharing has an impact on prescription choices tends to depend on an HCP’s age and experience. Just 21% said they “never” change scripts based on social channel information. Among private platforms, HCPs said information on Sermo and Doximity has most often led to them reconsidering medications.
  • HCPs strongly value peer-to-peer interactions on social channels and will follow credible influencers. Despite this finding, the marketer research showed more than 40% of pharma marketers did not include social influencer strategies in their plans. Pharma marketers should explore interactions between HCPs and influencers and consider how they might mobilize and enroll medical science liaisons (MSLs) and key opinion leaders (KOLs).
  • HCP activity on social channels varies by medical specialty and demographics. The more diverse the patient population served by an HCP, the more likely an HCP is to use social channels. How HCPs use social also depends on how long they’ve been practicing medicine.  Insights about which channels HCP use and their activities on them will help pharma marketers reach narrow audiences with sharply focused messaging.
  • HCPs participate in a mix of private medical and public social channels for professional purposes.  Social media today consists of dozens of platforms. Private channels and walled gardens designed for HCPs have grown tremendously since the pandemic. Pharma marketers have an opportunity to reach HCPs on multiple channels with complementary tactics tailored to the strengths of each channel.

These findings have substantial implications for how pharma marketers allocate their budgets. Pharma marketers may now create messaging aimed at distinct HCP demographics on specific platforms. This ability will help fill gaps created by the new algorithms and expanded privacy policies on many of the major social platforms that are making it difficult to reach narrower target audiences.

To see more results from the surveys and analysis about how the results can guide and inform new ways for pharma marketers to reach HCPs via the social they prefer, download the survey ebook here.

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