In the life sciences and healthcare industry, a host of stakeholders such as patients, payers, regulatory agencies and care givers are asserting their opinions on digital media and shaping perceptions of drugs. The evolution of new media, its unparalleled reach, and speed has made it imperative for marketers and communication professionals to listen and engage with stakeholders online.
For pharmaceutical marketers, as they begin/refine their social media journey, the key questions are – How much digital presence is adequate? Is their company/brand an industry leader or laggard or a new entrant? How do they compare themselves vis-à-vis the best-in-class companies/brands or others in similar categories?
Genpact's Social Media Pharma Index (SMPI) is designed to answer precisely these sets of questions. It essentially captures the patients' opinions, perceptions, and views on social media and provides an excellent opportunity to brand managers and marketers to effectively listen to their stakeholders. But more importantly, it provides a comparative view of the digital presence of different therapeutic areas. This enables benchmarking of disease conditions (and eventually brands of drugs) as companies engage in the digital medium – both from a 'search' perspective, as well as a 'social media buzz' perspective.
SMPI helps in understanding the differences between therapeutic areas pertaining to digital media adoption levels. Further, as one drills down into deeper levels of detail, specific issues of stakeholders including identification of the key areas for non-adherence to drugs/treatment regime and ways to engage patients and caregivers in social media for enhancing knowledge and experience along the disease life cycle can also be understood.
The SMPI is essentially a measure of stakeholder opinion in social media on a therapeutic area as a function of its search behavior. Additionally, this is indexed to the Burden of Disease for each disease condition. In the launch version of the index, Genpact conducted a study on the social media conversations and searches of patients in the U.S region for a period of one year. 17 diseases were considered for the study based on severity of the disease and number of people suffering. These diseases were also categorized into three broad categories based on characteristics of the disease to check for differences amongst them. The three categories are Common Chronic Diseases, Fatal Chronic Diseases and Brain & Nervous Diseases. The index represents the relationship between social media salience of these diseases and the search behavior.
Burden of disease
In order to set the research in context, Genpact considered the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Fig 1 shows the ranking of therapeutic areas by Burden of Disease. Common Chronic disease emerged as the most prevalent, while Fatal Chronic disease ended up being a laggard. According to WHO statistics, obesity has the highest incidence among the 17 diseases considered in this study; COPD is the most prevalent Fatal Chronic disease; and Alzheimer's has the highest incidence in the Brain and Nervous System disease condition.
The Search Index shows search behavior for therapeutic areas as an index of the Burden of Disease.
Diabetes, though by no means has the highest disease incidence, is by far the most searched one. Most other Common Chronic diseases also show high search behavior. However, the density of searches on the fatal diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer is much more compared to overall search behavior. It can be seen that for one patient there is more than one search performed in most of the fatal diseases. Brain and Nervous System diseases witness low overall search behavior, as well as low Search Index relative to Burden of Disease. This possibly points towards the need for caregivers to involve themselves more actively in the digital medium for such diseases.
Social Media Salience Index
There is a high correlation of about 90% between conversations and search behavior. Notable exceptions in overall search vs. overall salience are – HIV AIDS and COPD. Although, the general conversation volume is high for diabetes when indexed to the Burden of Disease, it is seen that the density is higher in the Fatal Chronic category. It was observed that there are dedicated groups and forums which help and guide patients during their period of suffering. There are experts who continuously engage with patients and caregivers who seek assistance in dealing with such fatal diseases. Interestingly, salience did not rise above Burden of Disease for other therapeutic areas. This demonstrates the gap in social media conversation volumes across therapeutic areas and indicates opportunities for stakeholders to leverage social media as a channel for engagement.
Social Media Pharma Index (SMPI)
SMPI represents the volume of online conversations and the search behavior of the diseases. HIV, obesity, breast cancer and epilepsy were the most discussed among the diseases which were searched by stakeholders online. In these therapeutic areas, salience in fact, was higher than search. The SMPI evaluates the search behavior with conversation behavior. Stakeholders are keen to seek information on both common & fatal diseases, and they actively participate in discussions.
Why Social Media Pharma Index?
- The SMPI establishes a benchmark of performance on search and social media metrics
- It helps marketers in getting holistic and quantified stakeholder information, allowing them to listen and engage with patients and physicians
- As stakeholder opinions and perceptions are varied, marketers need to pay attention on an on-going basis. Social Media Pharma Index is a periodic index that gives insights on a continuous basis
- The index can be customized to suit client needs. It can be computed at a brand level; by stakeholders (patients' vs. caregivers' vs. HCPs) and by geography
- Finally, it allows a marketer to judge the RoI of digital marketing efforts for a given therapeutic area or brand