In the U.S., pharmaceutical companies are spending billions of dollars to promote their drugs and new medical practices through physicians. They usually hire renowned physicians for conducting seminars on specific problem areas or medical innovations. Speakers, in such seminars, provide insight on new treatment methods and medicines. Information is disseminated through neutral platforms that create acceptability for new medical practices. We can understand the degree of influence by two simple scenarios, which are as follows:
- Scenario 1: If a company is promoting drugs through some direct mediums (such as TV and newspaper ads), it is perceived as advertisement and profit making activity
- Scenario 2: On the other hand, if a leading physician is sharing a case study on new medical practice through neutral platform, it will have a greater influence. Here, peer influence plays a vital role
It is evident that second scenario would have greater influence as physicians would follow the leaders of same profession and specialization. Pharmaceutical companies know this fact and they promote medical practices indirectly. They also provide fund for clinical researches, which are carried out by the medical associations.
Every physician is associated with one or more medical associations. Medical associations promote the art and science of medicine for the betterment of the public health. They also lobby for legislation favorable to physicians and patients. Medical associations provide support for medical education and conduct clinical survey. These medical associations are funded by government or pharmaceutical companies.
In this whole engagement, there is no formal collaborative medium which can engage medical professionals for long time. Eventually, this system becomes ineffective for physicians, medical associations and pharmaceutical companies. Following are the drawbacks of the current system that finally leads to its failure:
- Medical professionals are not tightly coupled as there is no connection medium after dispersing
- Information is lost after some time as there is no storage medium which could keep the findings and discussions on the central location and reproduce it on demand
- No analytical pattern derivation
- There is no benchmarking for any action
- ROI is immeasurable
Need of Collaborative and Advocacy Platform
As we know that healthcare industry is driven by knowledge and research, so there is the need of collaborative and advocacy platform. In simple words, we can call it ‘online networking platform’ but it is placed differently for medical professionals. However, if some practices are disseminated through a neutral platform and supported by some unbiased opinion leaders, practitioners are likely to more rely on that.
Potential Solution – Collaborative and Advocacy Platform
An online collaborative and advocacy platform can bridge the gap between the formal and informal peer connection and provide a structure to informal collaboration. Physicians can dive into the knowledge pool from any point. In other words, instead of ending up with a deluge of information which a peer (medical professional) needs to sift through to find relevant content, this platform could provide just the right information from in-house experts, thought leaders, and peers.
This collaborative and advocacy platform can help in various ways and few of them are as follows –
- Communities of practice could create and join user groups based on topics relevant to their jobs
- Dynamic search mechanisms that help users to discover and retain meaningful information
- Measurement tools that allow organizations to measure collaboration by assessing each contribution
- Mechanisms to incentivize and motivate contributors by using an in-built scoring mechanism for each action (such as blog, forum, audio & video sharing etc.) performed on platform ranging from asking a question to rating someone’s contribution to creating a community focused around a common area of interest. The higher an individual’s ratings, the higher is his/her ‘Thought Leadership Index’
- Ability to categorize and present information in different ways—by authors, by popularity of contributions, by the type of media (audio, video, images), and so on
- Collaboration in real-time allows instant screen sharing and recording of sessions for future use
The 24/7 connectivity offered by mobile devices are amenable to instant access, real-time search, as well as, storage of information on a ‘need-to’ basis. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense for any collaborative platform to use mobile devices as the media for interaction among peers and experts. Collaborative platform supported on mobile devices certainly have potential in terms of achieving higher levels of satisfaction as their on-the-job needs can be fulfilled just-in-time.