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Hollie Matthews explores the use of social media in healthcare

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Guest blog from Hollie Matthews of Ash Healthcare in celebration of Be My Guest Month

I have found social media to be a major bone of contention, debate and worry for many within the healthcare industry.

Its seems that communications teams want to utilise the vast audiences who use social media, regulatory bodies, such as ABPI in the UK and the FDA in the States, want to regulate pharmaceutical companies use of social networking sites and medical liaison teams within the pharma companies has to try and police the constantly changing regulations and the creativity of the communications teams, ensuring that they stay within company policies when communicating to the general public or to the healthcare professional.

The problems that truly face pharmaceutical companies with regard to social networking is the general public. It is what the public is able to say on the company’s profile, what the company can say to the public from its profile, and the lack of control this two way system provides. The pharmaceutical companies have made it there mission in recent year to be ‘transparent’ but, who is liable if it all goes wrong? This is what concerns them, it all comes down to the fact that what is said could mess with someone’s health. Whether this is good or bad, this is a risky business if you are only in control of one half the information.

Now, I have mentioned the two different governing bodies, the ABPI and the FDA, and although they have a similar stance in regard to the use of social media in healthcare communications, regulations in the two sides of the globe are different with regard to marketing and the promotion of prescription medicines. Direct-to-consumer is not allowed in the UK, and any specific adverts of a drug for a doctor must include the correct referencing. Now you tell me how to fit that into 140 characters!

Despite all this, communications specialists will never be defeated and there are more and more cases were we have adapted and started to build our own personalised social networking communities, not just using Twitter and Facebook. They include clinical trial recruitment micro sites, patient support networks and online digital resources/communities for doctors. We are evolving the social networking communities to combine the latest in media and the best for our audience in a highly regulated environment.

About Hollie

Hollie is a PR consultant and Ash Healthcare and tweets from @holliematthews

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Written by sociauxanswers

March 16, 2010 at 11:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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