The pharmaceutical industry needs to engage much more in the digital space with healthcare professionals and “provide clear, concise brand and product messages which can be easily shared across digital channels”.

That is one of the major conclusions of a new report from research specialist Cello Health Insight carried out amongst physicians across the UK, including 300 GPs. The study did find, however, that whilst the use of digital resources has grown substantially amongst HCPs over the past five years, face-to-face interactions still carry the biggest weight.
The research, conducted online in conjunction with M3 Global Research, found that two-thirds of UK physicians are active users of general social media sites such as Facebook (8%), Twitter (8%), Linkedin (19%), Wikipedia (49%) and YouTube (23%). However, there has also been “an enormous growth of specialist healthcare websites over the past five years”, with three-quarters having used within the last month (the survey ran to August 20). Of those who use it, 61% now do so on a daily basis, with the main reason for using such sites being to receive information from peers (74%).

70% of UK physicians use
Some 70% of UK physicians use, and the report states that this is in fact their preferred digital source of information. Over half (52%) now agree that pharma brands should factor social media into their public relations and communication programmes with HCPs.
However, traditional sources are still the most trusted “and, most importantly, have the highest ability to influence a prescribing decision”, Cello Health states. Face-to-face information from peers was the most trusted (43%), followed by face-to-face from opinion leaders (40%), sponsored conferences/events (30%), with just over one in five (21%) of UK doctors trusting pharma rep visits. The most trusted digital touch-point was information from peers via social media (15%).
When it comes to prescribing decisions, face-to-face interactions are top (40% from peers and 36% from opinion leaders) followed by conferences (29%), with 16% of doctors agreeing reps have an influence. This is closely followed by 13% of doctors citing social media having a direct influence on their prescribing decisions.