‘Pharmaceuticals Need to Leverage the Potential of the Internet’

Although healthcare related topics are one of the top search categories online, pharmaceuticals are not leveraging the potential of the World Wide Web, Jens Monsees, industry head, consumer goods and healthcare at Google, said. Monsees added that there are several areas where pharma is falling short in optimising their presence online.

He noted that pharmaceutical content needs to be better and in context in order to differentiate between healthcare professionals and patients. “If the content is right then people will read it. If it is wrong then no one will be interested,” he said. He also added that pharma did not invest enough in their websites.

Similarly, he believes that the pharmaceutical industry is stuck in the mind-set of sales reps and push marketing, which was increasingly not working, when the industry should be considering pull marketing via the internet. People use search engines because they are proactively interested in finding information, so based on healthcare search trends, pharmaceuticals can tailor the marketing message and pull people to the information they want, he said.

However, a consistent trend that was being observed was that pharmaceutical companies were becoming less relevant compared with healthcare queries online, Monsees added. He believed a greater focus on disease awareness by pharmaceuticals could help reverse that trend.

One trick the pharmaceutical industry should take advantage of is filtering keywords and specific search terms to understand the search behaviour of healthcare professionals and e-patients and target content accordingly.

However, while Monsees emphasised the importance for pharmaceuticals to rethink their use of the online space, he admitted that pharma was not considered a key client by Google because of their low spend. Monsees also said there was a lack of sufficient information about what doctors actually searched for online and suggested that perhaps collaboration was needed to obtain this information.

Meanwhile, David McCormick, digital lead at Roche Pharmaceuticals, commented that the industry needs to be savvier when it came to contextualising content. “We haven’t changed the way we have our content. Are we packaging our content in a way that allows us to be social? If our customer is in a social environment we should be there with them. It’s about push and pull tactics together.”

However, Sandra Muzinich, former UK e-capabilities lead at Eli Lilly, said pharmaceuticals need to go back to basics and have a strategy. “Why do you want to go digital? That’s where we fall down in this industry. We are so eager to do the new thing we forget about why we want to do it and when we do it and fail we don’t get any more money to do it again.” She also added that pharma need to ask more about what the customers want and actually analyse the information.



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