Medical information is everywhere. Consumers have unprecedented access to healthcare information regarding diseases, conditions, and therapeutics, from search engines to social media hubs to dedicated websites like WebMD.
However, not all information is created equal. Misinformation abounds, and pharmaceutical companies need dedicated tools to communicate directly with healthcare providers (HCPs) and consumers to ensure that the material they find is up-to-date and accurate.
Americans Look Online for Health Information
Google reported up to 70,000 health-related searches every minute, which represented approximately 7% of the search engine powerhouse’s daily traffic in 2019. Relying on Dr. Google, however, leads to self-misdiagnosis, and the spread of misinformation. The rise of social media influence has exacerbated the situation as more and more younger consumers turn to online resources like TikTok for mental health, disease, and vaccine information, only to be routinely misled. Now more than ever, consumers need trustworthy, evidence-based sources.
Medical affairs (MA) teams provide the crucial information necessary to combat misinformation and provide reliable resources for HCPs and consumers. They coordinate the scientific message behind new treatments and developments and assist in getting drugs to those in need. These teams complement traditional sources of medical information that patients seek, such as talking to their physicians, pharmacists, or patient advocacy groups. Rather than replacing those experts, MA teams work with key stakeholders to provide consistent, scientifically accurate data on current and emerging therapeutics.
How Can MA Teams Combat Misinformation?
The pharmaceutical industry cannot deny social networks’ influence over the average consumer. However, ignoring these communities or pointing consumers to hard data is not enough to set the record straight. Rather, MA teams taxed with creating informational content must listen to consumers and understand how the conditions affect their lives, particularly those with chronic or life-threatening health challenges and their caregivers. MA teams who lead with empathy and tailor informative and educational communications to the target audience can succeed where Dr. Google fails.
Next, MA teams should connect with pharmaceutical companies’ brand websites. Consumers and HCPs visit these websites for reliable information about diseases and treatments. However, many report frustration with the limited options available on such sites. For instance, consumers increasingly want pharmaceutical websites to provide a “one-stop shop” where they can find treatment information, locate a doctor, and book an appointment. MA teams partner with pharmaceutical companies to create more comprehensive, user-friendly options like interactive discussion guides, appointment reminders, and discount incentives.
Dedicated websites that require users to create accounts benefit pharmaceutical companies by gathering data on individual consumers or HCPs and identifying patterns in their search histories. For example, a quality MA system alerts managers when multiple consumers search for the same adverse effects or a single HCP downloads various documents related to a single product. Although human interaction remains the gold standard for customer service, many tech-savvy consumers and HCPs prefer to begin their search with automated tools such as portals and chatbots to answer their questions before turning to a live representative for additional help.
Anju Software understands the importance of offering pharmaceutical companies flexible options for sharing medical affairs information. They offer a state-of-the-art solution called IRMS MAX, which allows users to choose how they communicate with consumers and healthcare professionals (HCPs). This innovative system not only speeds up information capture through a modern, user-friendly interface but also ensures strict compliance with industry standards and aligns seamlessly with your internal processes.
For improved accessibility, IRMS MAX seamlessly integrates with Anju Software’s user-friendly platform, the iCARE self-service portal. This secure and intuitive portal provides immediate access to approved and published medical information. Whether one is an HCP or a consumer, they can easily navigate through a company-branded, searchable website to access trustworthy information. If the specific content they require is not available, iCARE MAX enables them to request it directly. By delivering accurate and current information through their secure online platform, Anju Software empowers consumers and HCPs to make well-informed decisions regarding their therapeutic options.
Why Are MA Teams More Effective Than Dr. Google?
MA teams are proliferating, reporting to C-suite managers, and leading internal and external communications. Their expanding role represents the industry’s shift towards patient outcomes and value-based measurements. According to Bob Muratore, senior managing partner at medical communications company eNova, MA teams are crucial for companies to map the patient journey and use relevant scientific data to create a coherent, accessible narrative. These teams can use a variety of mediums, including educational slide presentations, clinical case studies, and scientific website content, to communicate with consumers and provide content for pharmaceutical marketing teams’ engagement campaigns.
On a consumer level, MA teams enhance access to the best medical treatment, according to Matthias Evers, senior partner at McKinsey and Company. The industry trend towards patient-centricity dovetails neatly into MA teams’ mission. By creating accessible, reliable, and digestible information for consumers, MA teams assist HCPs and individuals in finding the proper treatment for their condition. Patient-centricity requires communicating with empathy as well as knowledge. MA teams should engage relevant stakeholders and patient advocacy groups to develop a deep understanding of consumers’ needs and concerns. Likewise, they can connect with medical influencers to create a multi-channel communication strategy.
For consumers navigating a world of online misinformation, having resources fully grounded in high-quality science is necessary to meet their treatment goals. MA teams have access to R&D data that many non-industry websites lack, and they can leverage this data to create consistent, transparent scientific content. However, the best MA content tells a story and does not merely overwhelm consumers with data.
How Do MA Teams Engage HCPs?
MA teams create websites, portals, and other media to provide reliable information for physicians and HCPs. A dedicated MA platform provides HCPs with downloadable, accurate information regarding a treatment’s indications, dosage, and adverse effects. And when HCPs search for information, their queries are tracked and reported back to the pharmaceutical company, providing invaluable data for ongoing drug monitoring.
Solutions like IRMS MAX use visualization tools to present pharmaceutical companies with user-friendly graphical representations of the data gathered from consumer and HCP searches. This data can be pulled into a simple report, organized into a matrix, or used to create visually compelling summaries and in-house reports. It also can send regular reports at scheduled intervals to keep monitoring staff well-informed automatically.
How Do MA Teams Add Value?
As consumers become increasingly aware of how search engines and social media often provide unreliable medical information, they look for better ways to educate themselves about their therapeutic options. Self-service options help consumers improve their information search by utilizing dedicated tools and interactive platforms such as chatbots. Anju’s self-serve platform, iCARE, is a companion to IRMS MAX. It allows HCPs or consumers to log in and search for drug-specific scientific content, empowering them to find material as quickly as they do with basic online search tools. However, unlike search engines, the information on the iCARE portal is reliable and scientifically grounded. By directly engaging with consumers and HCPs through MA tools, pharmaceutical companies place themselves at the forefront of online medical information.