Understanding Physicians’ Social Media Presence and Behavior

Contributed by:

Dave Escalante, Senior VP, OneKey and Marketing, Cegedim Relationship Management

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Life-sciences commercial teams are always looking for new and effective ways to communicate with healthcare professionals (HCPs). Traditional personal promotion has become more restrictive as fewer physicians are allowing visits from drug and medical device reps, and non-personal promotion channels are realizing increasing use, making it harder to differentiate products.

So how about social media? The rest of the world is embracing it for both B2B and B2C communications. Are physicians? The short answer is, yes.

According to Manhattan Research, 99% of physicians are online, spending about eight hours each week for professional purposes. According to Cegedim Research, 30% of HCPs are active on social media, and that number is expected to grow to 40% by mid-2013.

The increase of HCP use of social media is following other digital trends in the U.S. healthcare market. Seeing the trends depicted in the chart to the right, in January 2012 Cegedim Relationship Management commenced a project to create a validated dataset of physicians active in social media. In June 2012 Cegedim, through its OneKey brand, released the first commercial build of the data with new social-media profiles appended to traditional profiles of HCPs in three specialty areas: cardiology, endocrinology, and oncology. About 54,500 unique practitioners were monitored to understand their social attributes and behavior. Results revealed that one in three HCPs are socially active with a verified footprint across the Web. Oncologists had the highest level of social presence at 37.2%.

Social Media Transactions
Since 2007

Cegedim’s monitoring of social transactions of the three practice specialties extended back to January 2007, providing a historical perspective on activity. A social media transaction is defined as a link that has been found in which a monitored practitioner is mentioned by name and associated with a monitored term. To be verified, the HCP’s name and at least two other identifiers must match to Cegedim’s U.S. OneKey reference database of 2.1 million profiles. Transactional activity grew almost two-and-one-half times from 2007 to 2009 and then continued to increase sharply over the next three years to more than 16,500 transactions through August 2012.

Traits of the Socially
Active Specialist

Socially active physicians have characteristics that set them apart from their non-socially active peers. For example, physicians active in social media are 4% less likely to see pharma industry sales reps and 8% less likely to accept drug samples at their worksite. These findings indicate social media will have an impact on personal promotion strategies. Social physicians are 6% to 8% percent more likely to work in a medical office owned by a hospital or health system and 6% less likely to work in a group practice.

Ongoing Social Monitoring

The data from this report is the first knowledgebase of social transactional information that is accurately matched to validated physician profiles. Other practice specialties will be added to the monitoring program during first-quarter 2013. Understanding social behavior empowers healthcare companies with the ability to plan and execute new commercial engagements, create new customer segmentation models and dramatically increase market knowledge.

Chart:
Socially Active Specialists

Chart:
Growth of Social Media Transactions

Chart:
HCP Use of Social Media

Contributed by:
Dave Escalante, Senior VP, OneKey and Marketing, Cegedim Relationship Management.   Cegedim is a global technology and services company specializing in the healthcare field. For more information, visit Cegedim.com/rm.

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