Health care companies (i.e. pharma and device manufacturers) are eager to learn how to use Web2.0 platforms for their business. Many are in their 4th or 5th year of experimentation with interesting digital solutions now in the form of Facebook pages, partnerships with Sermo or patient communities.
Still, companies are spread out across the social media adoption spectrum. Some remain inactive and skeptical, others just launched their latest blog.
One tactic every pharma could benefit from is establishing two advisory panels to help them stay close to the real experience of the patients and physicians they serve. This is about learning from feedback not yet activating outbound word of mouth (WOM).
Physician 2.0 Panel
Identify 10 digitally-active physicians using the Influencer Map criteria that we and many other companies use to pull influencers out of the haystack of social media. Basically this is a X,Y axis of relevance and influence.
Invite the group for an initial on-campus meetup with marketers and communication specialists. The agenda? Ask each physician to share with the group 3 digital behaviors they didn't have a year ago. Then ask them to share how they think those digital behaviors have affacted their practice and to speculate how they may affect the practice in the future.
That's the first half of their session. For the second half, hold a brainstorming session with those same physicians. Ask how they might accelerate their use of social media to enhance their buisness and the outcomes of patients. Explore how pharma might fuel that acceleration.
Invite the group to remain connected for informal Q&A's from time to time via a private NING network. Make sure the communications team managing the relationships is trained in adverse events reporting just in case that comes up (chances are it won't).
Equip each doctor with a FlipVideo cam. Ask them to create 1 short video a quarter updating us on their use of social media. Those videos will be for internal use only yet can be spread pretty widely via an employee extranet. This is a great way to continuously get the "customer" in front of employees.
Patient 2.0 Panel
With physicians help, identify 10 digitally-active patients that meet the same criteria. Follow a similar process of inviting them to campus for an initial event. Listen to and engage with them as you did with yoru Physicians. Stay conncected with them for at least one year.
In the short term, measure the ROI in terms of insights or ideas-generated. Okay, it's difficult to boil down to an ROI. Still, count how many things you learned. Compare it to the actionable insights from a boatload of focus groups. I don't know about you but I consider myself lucky if I end up with 3 actionable insights from groups. If you do 4 focus groups at $15K a pop, that's $60K or $20K per insight. You are going to much better with your panel. The payoff only begins with those insights. Sharing the experience of these folks with as many people as possible in the organization and building relationships with folks who may choose to be outbound word of mouth ambassadors one day will quickly eclipse that value.