When people are driven to engage with each other on social media seeking community and consensus about healthcare issues, organizations need to make sure they are part of that engagement. As head of pharma health policy region Americas for Bayer AG Communications and Public Affairs, Dominick Kennerson engages in corporate diplomacy and has been key in adding gravitas to the company’s digital communication capacity. In this Q&A, he shares some of the biggest challenges to stakeholder engagement in the healthcare industry—and a few solutions Bayer is applying.
A good endorsement from the FDA could actually turn out to be bad PR for Apple, a company known to offer its newest proprietary tech at premium prices, as people who need the tech might not be able to afford it. The issue of life-saving resources that are unaffordable to many recalls several recent instances when pharmaceutical companies have made headlines for raising the price of their medications to such exorbitant numbers that those without insurance deemed the gouging to be a death sentence.
Colleen Young knows a thing or two about online patient communities. As online community director for Mayo Clinic, she is internationally known for building patient communities that thrive. At Mayo Clinic Connect, Young has orchestrated a virtual community connecting patients to each other and to Mayo Clinic medical expertise. Young will be participating in a session at the upcoming Healthcare Social Media Summit Oct. 23 in Baltimore. She previewed her panel in this recent Q&A.
It seems to make so much sense: an online community of patients tapping into others with similar conditions and concerns, and sharing what they know to help others. But, no doubt, easier said than done. John Novack oversees communications for the million-member healthcare social network Inspire. In a recent interview, he touched upon key issues in building those communities.
If the sole purpose of healthcare is to improve lives, perhaps it is ironic that there is often a human element missing in the way healthcare organizations communicate with patients and customers. But communicators like Edelman’s Susan Isenberg understand there is no one-size-fits-all answer to global communications, and they are working hard to humanize their outreaches on social media and elsewhere.
Why has it seemed like such a challenge for healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers and nonprofit organizations to communicate effectively and build relationships on social media? One could argue that regulatory guidelines must be considered at every turn and have prompted communicators to proceed cautiously—especially given the serious nature and high stakes of the healthcare industry in the first place.
Authenticity. Listening. Finding unique angles. Those are the keys for journalists seeking earned coverage via social media, according to Suzanne Barston, manager, corporate journalism, corporate communications at AbbVie. As founding partner of AbbVie’s StoryLab, Barton is responsible for creating stories around the company’s therapeutic areas, pipeline and philanthropy. While journalists long ago shifted their working lives to social channels, healthcare communicators have been slower to make that transition, due not only to unique regulatory issues but also industry resistance.
During the Obama administration and since the political rise of Donald Trump, Americans have grown more accustomed to expressing strong convictions on social media, and brands that are even tangentially related to such commonly held strong opinions have found themselves under pressure to weigh in quickly. Trending news stories lead to social posts, and suddenly brands are in the hot seat.
Patients and friends and families of patients avidly seek information and guidance online, and news outlets are equally hungry to report healthcare news, trends and data. This is both a boon and a curse for consumers of healthcare news. There’s so much good and bad information to wade through. For healthcare communicators, the good and bad information out there amounts to one thing, though: too much noise.