Twitter chat for pharma and health companies

Twitter chats are one of the most useful ways for pharma and healthcare companies to engage other people in the industry as well as their potential customers.

For those that are not aware of Twitter chats, they are arranged in advance with one or two hosts and at a pre-designated hashtag, which is used to link the tweets in a real time conversation. They can be viewed on the Twitter timeline, but it is better to use a tool that displays the tweets as they are posted. There are a number of free tools available on the web of which TweetChat, Tweet Deck and Twitterfall are just a few.

If companies within the pharma and healthcare sectors want to explore the world of Twitter chats, there are many existing chats to choose from (we have included a list of some of the most popular at the end of this post. One problem for UK companies is that most of the chats are hosted in the United States and the timing is not always convenient.

Nevertheless, for areas of particular interest a chat may well be worth staying up for. Chats can cover a wide area or very specific topics. For example the National Health Service social media chat (#nhssm) covers a huge variety of issue but #rheum concerns only Rheumatology topics.

After familiarising themselves with the Twitter Chat format, companies may wish to start a chat themselves to discuss issues relating to their particular products and services. Good planning and advance promotion is vital to success, but it is an excellent way of getting customer feedback and identifying areas of concern.

Popular Pharma and Health Twitter Chats
(All times are GMT but subject to change)

Rheumatology    #rheum    8pm

Non-Communicable Diseases    #NCD    24 hour
Postpartum Depression    #ppd    6pm

Nurse Chat    #NurChat     8pm (fortnightly)
Occupational Therapy    #OTalk    8pm

National Health Service SocialMedia    #nhssm    midday
Elderly Care    #eldercarechat    6pm
Medical Devices    #MedDevice    9pm
Health Care Social Media UK    #hcsmuk    12.30 (on the third Thursday of every month)

Brain Tumours    #BrainTumorThursday    all day

Health Care Social Media Europe    #hcsmeu    midday
Health IT and Social Media    #HITsm    3pm

Sanofi using social media to drive diabetes tech competition

Sanofi U.S., the American arm of the French pharmaceutical giant is effectively using social media to drive its Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge. Currently in its second year, the challenge aims to generate innovative ideas that can be used to improve the lives of people with diabetes.

Last year the challenge was won by which created an app able to transform a mobile phone into a monitoring device with the capability of real time identification of diabetic problems. This year the company has doubled the prize money to $200,000 and the challenge is generating huge interest on social media.

Central to the process of the challenge is using crowd sourcing to define the focus for this year’s challenge. Sanofi has set up a dedicated website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts for the challenge. This use of the internet is pulling a highly varied mix of people into the project resulting in a  significant  public contribution to the shape of the project.

Sanofi claim that the involvement of the public through social media has delivered ideas in just six months that would normally take up to five years to develop. Speaking about the project Michele Polz, the head of Patient solutions at Sanofi, said ‘We wanted to cast a wide net, look beyond the four walls we play in every day.’

Access Pfizer for Professionals launches for UK pharmacies

Pfizer has launched a new website design aimed at increasing its direct reach and interaction with UK dispensing chemists. The site was developed following an in-depth survey of 200 pharmacists and will replace will the current as a one-stop-shop providing information on Pfizer products for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.

The limited access site will provide detailed information on all of Pfizer’s products and services. The survey revealed that dispensing pharmacies wanted 24 hour access to stock and supply information, as well as enhanced access to commercial deals. According to the company, the new online portal will deliver all this information and Pfizer account holders will be able to view, in real time, full ordering histories and available discounts. Pfizer customers will be able to order products directly though the site which would provide significant improvements on the efficient management of their accounts.

One of the key findings of Pfizer’s survey was the desire for better access to training and support. As a result, the new portal incorporates a professional development section which will provide training materials and information on company workshops based around their products.

Another feature of the site provides materials enabling pharmacists to better serve and provide the public with information on treatments and therapies. This includes providing links to third party websites which will give pharmacies easy access to the most relevant health information on the web.

The new service marks a further development in the use of the internet by pharmaceutical companies to connect directly with their customers by providing more integrated and improved communications.

Mobile technology to foil counterfeit drugs

An American technology company is utilising mobile phone technology in an attempt to combat the $75 billion-a-year counterfeit drugs market. Copies of proprietary brand drugs not only eat into the margins of pharmaceutical companies, who invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing medicines every year, but also threaten the health and safety of those that take medicines not subject to stringent industry testing.

Drug counterfeiting is a global problem and is endemic in certain parts of the developing world where up to 30% of all medicines are counterfeit. To combat the increasing availability of fake drugs, PharmaSecure has developed a system that creates a direct link between manufacturers and the end user. This provides consumers with a guarantee that the medicines they are taking were produced by the licensed and regulated company.

PharmaSecure’s track and trace authentication system provides a unique ID code on product packaging, which can be used to track every stage of the drug’s journey through the supply chain right into the hands of the end customer. The customer can then use a simple SMS messaging system to verify authenticity. The system ensures the customer is protected from the dangers of counterfeit medicine and the company protects its trademark as well as maintaining the integrity of its products and brand identity.

Due to the simplicity of the system and the relatively low cost of implementation, PharmaSecure track and trace programme has the ability to be scaled on a global level and deal a severe blow to the counterfeiters.

Google’s Venice update – will your healthcare website sink or swim?

Google is the process of rolling out its new Venice update all part of its “40 changes for February” project. So what is the Venice update and how will it impact your healthcare SEO strategy?

In a nutshell ‘Venice’ is all about Google serving up more locally relevant websites in its search results, well that is what Google is trying to achieve, but from my initial experience the accuracy of the results are pretty poor and I had to physically alter some of the search settings before I started to see more relevant results.

Here’s an example…

Yesterday I ‘Googled’ “osteopath” and straight away I noticed that Google was serving up quite a few listings from its Google Places entries along with a map of where those osteopaths are based. Below those results there were still some generic, non-local standard organic results too. Now you might think this is great, because you’re only seeing results showing osteopaths located near to you, as you are not going to be interested in learning more about an osteopath located some 100 miles away from you. However, when I carried out the search, Google seemed to think I was based in Liverpool, which I’m not, I actually live in East Sussex. Google was therefore serving up a list of osteopaths situated in the wrong area! Totally useless for me and frustrating also, so why did this happen? Basically Google uses a number of methods to detect where a user is based – most notably, the user can set their default location in their search preferences, but if that is not set then Google will also look at GPS, Wifi information and IP address and to some degree past search history to try and determine your location.

So for me the IP route failed, so I had to alter the Google search preferences and change my location (I guess most searchers won’t automatically think of doing this) and finally I started to get a list of more relevant local results. Next, I went and carried out the same Google search on my iPhone and this time Google thought I was based in London, so again I had to update my location in the search preferences.

Local SEO Strategies for Healthcare Websites

So, what impact will this new update have on your SEO strategy? What it means is that’s even more important than ever for both smaller local level healthcare businesses and national businesses that have multiple branches dotted across the country to ensure that firstly, they have created and optimised a Google Places listing. Secondly, I would also recommend that you identify the types of searches relevant to your business and carry out a series of searches to see if Google is triggering the Venice algorithm for those phrases. Then you need to check that the on-page elements of your web pages are optimised for those target key phrases but also include a location, e.g. “Osteopaths in High Wycombe, Bucks”.  For a smaller healthcare business that is based in just one area, then you can easily do this by optimising top level pages such as the home page or product and service pages. However, if you are national business then you are going to need to think about how you can incorporate multiple location pages into your site so that you can optimise a page for each specific location. However, you need to approach this tactic with care as you don’t want to erroneously create pages that have duplicated content, as this could trigger a penalty.

If you’re healthcare website has been impacted by the Venice update and you want some help in developing a Google compliant local SEO strategy then drop us a line.

Mobile health apps need new regulatory framework

Last month, a mobile phone app became the first of its kind to be registered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a medical device.

The app was developed by the team at the Mersey Regional Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit and is designed to help medical staff assess burn damages. This neat bit of kit is listed by the MHRA as a class 1 medical device and is available for free in the Apple app store.

According to research, 81% of healthcare professionals own a smartphone and as a result the Mersey Burns app will no doubt be useful by sharing the specialist knowledge from the burns unit with their medical colleagues. However, the licensing of the app has raised all kinds of questions on the future registration of mobile phone apps for use in the healthcare professions.

On the face of it, registration is eminently desirable; in healthcare accuracy is everything, so it is important that diagnostic, treatment and monitoring apps are rigorously tested to ensure their suitability for public release. Unregulated mobile health apps have the potential to put the public at risk.

However there is concern, particularly in the US, that excessive regulation of mobile apps will vastly increase the costs of app development and slow market availability down to such an extent that the technology could be out of date by the time it hits the market.

As a result, on both sides of the Atlantic, web and app developers and healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are calling for a new regulatory framework which will allow the testing and processing of relevant mobile apps at speeds equal to the pace of rapid technological change.