Tracking what physicians do online - and how they get there - has become an obsession in the pharmaceutical industry. And so the latest in a long line of snapshots offers a glimpse into how often some 54,500 oncologists, cardiologists and endocrinologists not only go on the Internet, but what they do when they get there. And the look-see by Cegedim's Sk&A unit also offers an insight into what some of this might mean for drugmakers.
Here are some findings: roughly one in three healthcare providers are socially active with what the market research firm calls a 'verified footprint' across the Internet and email channels. Oncologists, however, had the highest level of social presence at 37.2 percent. But by mid-2013, the overall presence of healthcare providers on the Internet is expected to reach 40 percent.
Not surprisingly, activity on the Internet is rising rapidly. SK&A measured by transactions, which were defined as a link in which a monitored physician is mentioned by name and associated with a monitored term. In keeping with the rising popularity of Facebook and Twitter, activity grew nearly two-and-one-half times from 2007 to 2009 and then continued to increase over the next three years to more than 16,000 so-called transactions through last month.
SK&A also decided to sort out personality types in hopes of gaining insight for potential sales and marketing efforts. So the firm labeled the docs as either mere observers, socializers, specialists (who spread influence through their online activities) or out-and-out thought leaders. For instance, 43 percent of oncologists are specialists, 24 percent were thought leaders, 27 percent were socializers and 6 percent were observers.
If you were wondering about the cardiologists, here goes... 50 percent were specialists, 20 percent were thought leaders, 22 percent were socializers and 8 percent were observers. As for endocrinologists, similar percentages were found: 47 percent were specialists and 27 percent were thought leaders, while 23 percent were socializers and 6 percent were observers. In other words, these are gregarious groups, at least online.
Finally, physicians who are active in social media are 4 percent less likely to see sales reps and 8 percent less likely to accept samples at their worksite, according to SK&A. "These findings indicate social media will have an impact on personal promotion strategies," the firm predicts. Social physicians are 6 percent to 8 percent more likely to work in a medical office owned by a hospital or health system and 6 percent less likely to work in a group practice.
The firm also tried to determine how the docs related to certain topics and what they were saying online. SK&A found that the sciences was the leading topical category affiliated with healthcare providers, with a term, or word, occurrence of 71,389. Other significant topical categories were professionals, diseases, treatments, organizations, patients and pharmaceutical products, in that order. How often did drugs show up? SK&A tallied 7,688.
phone pic thx to drubloomfield on flickr