Updated on 19 September 2012
Earlier this year, Sanofi launched its product iBGStar, a blood glucose-monitoring device that plugs into an iPhone with an app and can save, map and transmit data to family, friends and healthcare providers. Its key feature is - it can map relationships between blood sugar level and the impacting factors such as carbs and sugar consumption, mealtime, and physical activity in a simple accessible manner. The community is lapping up the device, reports Sanofi.
Sanofi was successful at this launch because it engaged with its community and hence was able to identify an unmet need. This initiative from Sanofi actually started three-years back with an objective to help diabetic patients with the information that can help them manage diabetes better.
There are some other examples also like that of AstraZeneca and Merck doing a good job of engaging its customers and disseminating information via social media. According to some reports on the "social media content", at least one-third of people use it to discuss and share medical issues related information. Hence, reaching out to customers via social media is not something that can be or should be avoided.
Retaining agencies that help build social media presence and building relevant communities is an option. However, it is best if the pharma and medical device companies make provision for dedicated manpower until the market evolves enough for agencies to specialize in managing social media for regulated businesses like that of pharma.
Challenges will remain. The best way to go forward is also debatable. It is clearly unchartered territory. In a fast evolving business environment, regulatory can only follow the technology and not precede it. It is understandable and is no reason to hold back.
However, before you dive in, do make a plan. Any plan will do, as long as you are committed to give the best to your customers.