Covid-19 has drastically changed the way patients manage their own health and interact with healthcare systems and providers. Like many other industries, the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the customer (i.e. patient) journey; we’ve embraced telehealth visits and virtual care, and the rise in availability of information online has conditioned us to consult the internet first, doctor second.
Patients now turn to social media and online platforms at every stage: they use blogs, forums, and even Reddit to seek advice, share personal health experiences, and review doctors and HCPs. Online communities like HealthUnlocked and Patientslikeme enable their users to self-diagnose, explore treatment options, and connect with peers. We even see patient and caregiver communities growing on Instagram across various conditions like alopecia, dementia, cancer, and more.
This explosion of online activity is driving the need for pharma and healthcare companies to find new ways to gather patient insights. In a new blog, Synthesio’s Dave Markowski discusses how social listening (and its successor: AI-enabled consumer intelligence) harnesses social data to provide a real-time, authentic look at patients’ and HCPs’ experiences and behaviors. It enables brands to understand evolving patient journeys by answering critical questions like:
- Where do patients turn for information at the onset of symptoms? By tracking forums, blogs, and social network sites, social listening reveals where patients seek information and who the top influencers and decision-makers are. These insights can tell us what patients think, feel, and do at the early stages of illness (or even prevention), so brands can understand how patients talk about their conditions and what their most-trusted resources are.
- How, where, and by whom are patients diagnosed? For common, mild illnesses, patients may be more likely to self-diagnose and self-treat with OTC medications or holistic alternatives. In other cases, patients may struggle to receive a diagnosis for a serious condition because HCPs fail to order the right tests or don’t “speak the same language” as patients, leading to misunderstanding and misdiagnosis. By analyzing conversations around specific illnesses and diseases, brands can better facilitate the path to diagnosis by equipping patients and HCPs with the right knowledge and tools.
- How do patients seek and obtain treatment? Social insights provide a real-time look at patients’ awareness and perception of treatment options. This means pharma companies can delve into patients’ pain points and barriers to treatment like access to HCPs, conversations with HCPs about treatment options, awareness of their condition, etc. As more HCPs and patients use social media to share their opinions and knowledge about treatments and medications, brands must be able to decode these conversations.
As the healthcare landscape continues to digitize and transform, it’s more important than ever that pharma brands center patient voices. Social insights have become a critical component of understanding patients, HCPs, and caregivers – and a key input into developing products and services that meet their needs.
Want to learn more about how you can use social listening to decode the patient journey? Click here to set up a demo with on of our experts!