AvantSpeakOpinion Leaders

Boost Your Med Ed Strategy by Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders


The HCP engagement landscape is evolving, but one thing remains the same: Opinion leaders matter. And today’s Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) – who are defined by their social media presence and passion for sharing scientific expertise through digital channels – can engage with HCPs in a way that meets their needs and channel preferences.

But how can we as healthcare marketers best partner with DOLs in order to deliver effective medical education on social channels? Join a conversation with some of Avant Healthcare’s trusted DOL advisors to find out how.

Webinar Transcript

Dan Limbach: Hello, everybody. I am Dan Limbach and I'm the producer of the PharmaVOICE Webcast Network. And I'll be your off-camera facilitator for today's session. Welcome to our event entitled, Boost your med ed strategy by engaging digital opinion leaders, brought to you by PharmaVOICE in partnership with our good friends at Avant Healthcare. We have an outstanding crowd today with executives from across the industry. Thank you for investing your time to attend, we will certainly do our very best to make it worth your while.

Before we get started, I'd like to take a moment to acquaint you with a couple features of our webinar technology. Your GoToWebinar control panel will give you access to several functions. If you can hear me, but are experiencing problems seeing the slides or the webcams, you may want to try logging in using a different browser. And we recommend the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Tablets and smartphones also work if you have the free GoToWebinar mobile app. For any other issues, use the robust help options from your control panel or visit gotowebinar.com.

We are taking questions from the audience today, and you can participate in the Q&A session by asking questions at any time during the presentation. So just type your question into the questions text area in your control panel and click the send button. We're also going to have an audience poll during the event. So get ready to participate with that and share your views. We are recording this event and we will send you a link to the OnDemand archive in about 24 hours so you can review the event at your leisure.

Now that we're through with the housekeeping details, let's dive into the program. We have a very knowledgeable panel of experts with us today. So let's meet our esteemed panelists. We are happy to welcome Tauseef Ali, MD via telephone, and his specialty is gastroenterology. We also have Roxana Daneshjou, MD, PhD. Her specialty is dermatology. And we have Gil Morgan, MD, whose specialty is oncology. Our moderator today is Arun Divakaruni, PhD, and CEO of Avant Healthcare. I think we'd all agree we are very fortunate to have an outstanding panel of experts on this topic.

And then after our panel discussion, as I said before, we will have a Q&A session in our remaining time. So please submit your questions for our panelists as you think of them. Now I'm going to hand it off to Arun to moderate the discussion. Arun, take it away.

Arun Divakaruni: Thank you, Daniel. And welcome doctors, Ali, Daneshjou and Morgan. I feel a bit like Brian Williams today, but we have an esteemed gastroenterologist, a physician scientist, dermatologist, and a leading oncologist today. And thank you for taking times out of your busy schedules away from clinic hours and your research to join us and talk about an important topic, which is the role of social media in healthcare.

But before we get into that, I'm going to go backwards just a little bit. I want to talk a little bit about our company, Avant Healthcare. Avant Healthcare is an independent woman-owned agency that's focused on medical and scientific education, both from peer-to-peer scientific communications, promotional peer-to-peer, and also providing agency or record services. We also have an important center of excellence as it relates to medical affairs and communicating science at the highest in scientific levels. We're part of a family of agencies that includes AVAIL Meeting Planning and Forefront Collaborative, which provides accredited medical education.

And what we'll be discussing with our esteem colleagues today and partners who are part of our Avant Healthcare's digital advisory board is the role of pharmaceutical companies and biopharmaceuticals to engage healthcare providers on social media. We want to talk about ways that we can identify value to healthcare providers, and contribute to the important conversations that are happening today, and then discern some potential engagement strategies for how biopharmaceutical companies can better contribute to the important dialogue that's happening in science and medicine right now. And I don't think that there's any more important time that we establish trust in information, particularly on these social channels. I think it goes without saying that a robust scientific discussion can be catalyzed by social media, and it's important for us to figure out what are the best ways to make our perspectives accessible.

So we met our panelists, and one sort of key North Star that I think it's important for us as an industry and both from our audience to hear is that we have a story to tell. Often about the medicines that you are developing, the services that you're providing or who you are as a company. But at the same time our story may be important, but it's only important in the relevance it has to our audience. And important and valuable information is what I would say is a marketer's best currency. And when we can find that nexus about what we do as an industry and what our audience needs, and find those touch points, I would say that that's where we can provide the maximum value to our constituencies and the people that we're trying to reach.

So, before we get started, we'll do a polling question. And what I would like to know, and I think our panelists would like to know is, how is your company engaging healthcare providers on social media? Is it not at all, or listening? Do you use your corporate social channels? Are your employees spokespeople, or do you have a dedicated team that has a robust operation devoted to engaging HCPs?

So while this poll is happening and we wait for the results, I think it's really important for us to recognize that even particularly today, the role of social media overall in society is being questioned, it's being poked and prodded, and possibly regulated in a new way. And so these questions are really, really important. I think even with the Facebook outage yesterday, we saw how dependent the world is on social. And I think that is incredibly relevant, particularly to healthcare in light of the pandemic and vaccine misinformation and just information about health and wellness in general. We'll table that discussion for now, hopefully maybe that's something that we can revisit in a future webinar, but I think it would be best if we focused our discussion on how we can use a variety of social channels to best communicate to healthcare providers.

Dan Limbach: All right. So let's close the poll and share the results and see what our audience has to say. So the leader of the pack is, they use their corporate social channels and followed by they have dedicated team. And there's some, a lot of listening going on too. So Arun, do you have any comments about this, is this what you're seeing in the industry?

Arun Divakaruni: I think that this is probably what I would have expected, and I hope our panelists can shed some light on this. Maybe that there are different ways that we can pull levers to best communicate to our audience and the physicians that we're trying to help, so this is great. Excellent. So Dr. Ali, I will be, I think you'll be our lead off panelist today. As again a gastroenterologist, particularly during the pandemic who prescribes, often prescribes for moderate to severe disease medicines that modulate the immune system, what effect did the pandemic have on your conversations in social media? Who were you trying to reach with your efforts, and what were they saying and how did you respond back to them?

Tauseef Ali: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me today. I hope you can hear me loud and clear because I'm on the phone. So it's an excellent question about knowing the effect of this pandemic. And I think if I can categorize into good, bad and ugly, I think we kind of learned the good effect from it or experience some good effects about when it comes to healthcare conversation on a social media, but we learned that was one channel that was under utilized by healthcare professionals. And we had to do a lot of work, a lot of catch up that we have to do as healthcare providers to convey our message and to kind of compete with the message that we don't want to disseminate as physician, as you know that it's kind of like a Pandora box and a can of worms that you just have to make sure that the right information is passed on to the right person.

So we learned that. That was a good effect that for all of us that we learned how to communicate better, effectively and timely to the users of the social media, whether it's patient, whether it's caregivers, general public. So we learned that. The other thing that we learned that the consistency of message, that we have to be consistent. So there was a lot of learning on our part that how to deliver a message, how to deliver an effective message, and how important is the choice of words in the absence of body language. Because as physician, we always have been taught, we always teach our trainees how important it is, the touching, the body language and listening to your patient and interacting with the patient. And when you are doing these type of healthcare conversation on a social media platform, all you have is a tool of words, and those words needs to be very effective in communicating your message. So that's one effect.

The second thing is the receiver end, we learn that it's not just patient, it's family, friends, and how the message that we are delivering in good conscience can be perceived differently, depending on who's listening. So we would learn how to be very effective and careful when we are crafting our conversation and messages on social media.

And I think the other thing we learned that was a learning curve for most of us regarding what type of information we need to deliver. And many of our smart physicians, many of us researchers, scientists, they may be very good in doing what they're doing, but they may not have a conversational skill. So we recognize the need of developing that skill so that we can be very effective on social media, so that we can prevent harm to our public, to our patients, to their family members, by giving them an effective message. So that's how I would summarize that.

Arun Divakaruni: Okay. So, did you have patients themselves reaching out to you on your social channels? And what social channels are you active on?

Tauseef Ali: Okay. So another very good question about interaction, direct interaction with the patient. As healthcare physicians, when we work for institutions, for the workplaces, we have lot of kind of medical legal embargo, how we did, and I think it's a good ethics also how to interact on a social media with your patient. And I think there's a consensus that I think we should avoid having a limited conversation with our patients. Yes, there were patients who are my patient, they were patients who were randomly approaching us on social media platform, whether it's a Facebook Messenger, whether it's a Twitter messenger, where they were just giving us direct messages, asking us some very direct questions.

And the problem and the caution that we have to exercise is that don't know the details. We don't know the perspective of the question that they're asking us. So we have to be very careful about how we answer, respond and reply back to them. We can make general statements, we can guide them to go to some useful, reliable resources, but yes, patients were trying to approach us. Family, friends, they were approaching us either directly. We would post something on a Twitter. I use Twitter as my social media for engagement with public patients and their caregivers. And I would get either a response, a tweet back, a reply, quotation of my tweet, a direct message or a request to send me a direct message. So there are a lot of ways that patients were approaching us. And we had to exercise a lot of caution about how we respond and where to put our breaks in, because the message can get really problematic and can be misused or abused when you are engaging in the conversation on a public platform.

Arun Divakaruni: So that's really interesting with the importance of language and maybe a digital bedside manner on how to communicate with patients. And maybe that's something that us as part of the biopharmaceutical industry can provide some value. That's really interesting perspective.

Dr. Daneshjou, I'm going to move on to you. As a physician scientist, you share a unique honor of being Twitter verified, that blue check mark. There's a lot of folks who work very hard to get that next to their name. So obviously people are listening to what you have to say. And obviously there are those of us in the industry who want to speak to you and through these channels get your opinion, contribute to the dialogue. You're an active live tweeter of meetings. And we've had conversations about this before, and I'd be really interested in your perspective of, given that our industry is made up of marketers and scientists and doctors and business people, who best do you think is equipped to contribute to the conversation and interact with you, and why?

Roxana Daneshjou: Yeah. I mean, thanks for having me here today. I think this might be counterintuitive to how things are done, but I actually think that the scientists are some of the best spokespeople, if properly trained to engage, engage in conversations. I feel like whenever a company has a new [inaudible 00:16:32], for example, in the New England Journal of Medicine it's far more practical to the community if one of the authors shares the paper with some of [inaudible 00:16:45] about Twitter, because that is my platform of choice. And depending [inaudible 00:16:53] you use to get information on the latest publications. I often papers from Twitter before I hear about, and then somebody else will mention to me. And I said, "Yeah, I already saw that paper. I saw it on Twitter three weeks ago when it first came out." Because people are essentially posting, immediately you have all the latest breaking scientific discoveries, you have discussions around it.

If I see something posted by a marketing team, I'm not going to engage with it. But if I see something posted by a fellow scientist, then I may ask questions about the trial or their opinion about the side effects, even if it is a pharma sponsored trial, and many of the scientists on Twitter, at least in dermatology work closely with, they're not employees of any pharmaceutical companies, but they run the trials and I often engage with them as well. And so they, I think are great sort of representatives of what is the latest in the science.

Because I work in an academic center I'm a little bit wary of engaging publicly with any marketing teams. And the other thing is, is that the scientific conversation on Twitter is truly a scientific conversation, meaning that people will jump into the nitty gritty of methodology, of results, of what it means, of how it should be used, and things like that. And that may be something that the marketing team is not actually equipped to really jump into. And I understand as a corporation this may sound like a terrifying prospect, like, let your scientists go and publicly post their research and have a discussion. But it's something that's actively happening in academics. I think you can also, I think people do need training. I think people need to know how to engage if there's anything negative in a way that's constructive and not, or to reflect poorly on the company.

Arun Divakaruni: Yeah. And I think that's part of maybe what the ask is from you is that there is a close ecosystem between the academic and maybe a private backed scientific community. And that should sort of extend into the overall conversation that's happening on social media. So maybe one important it's good to have company scientists who are often some of the brightest and leading minds in the field contribute to that conversation. You mentioned something that's interesting, being a dermatologist, I know your focus is mostly on pretty serious disease, but that's an area where you have companies like beauty and other sort of healthcare companies that provide over-the-counter products to on the other end of the spectrum kinase inhibitors for atopic dermatitis, or immune modulating medicines for psoriasis. Is there a difference in your interaction with a company based on what they do or the products that they provide or medicines they provide to you?

Roxana Daneshjou: Yeah, I think it's a little bit easier with the over-the-counter stuff to have those interactions. When it comes to the more serious medications, of course, our conversations are just to try to understand what the different, I mean, the different use cases. Like you mentioned, I've liked, we did talk about uses of JAK inhibitors. And of course, I preface any live tweeting with the conflicts of interest of the presenter. And similarly, I think that scientists who present their data on Twitter will say, "Hey, this trial was funded by so and so," like they would in any presentation. So they give that information. I do think it is a little bit easier with the over-the-counter stuff, because I'm not prescribing that stuff. Patients are just making a decision to purchase it or not.

I think I've mentioned this before to you, but I think the CEO of CeraVe does a really excellent job of using Twitter and social media and engaging with dermatologists and even consumers. And I know that's a little bit different then say like a TNF-alpha inhibitor, it's not quite the same. But I think it's an excellent example of how somebody who is an employee and is not on the social team can actually be very engaging. And I think that brings a level of authenticity to it when you have people who are down on the ground. As you mentioned, many of these companies have the brightest scientists in the world. And I think that they should be part of the conversation of what does their latest work show?

Arun Divakaruni: Yeah. And Dr. Morgan, we're going to move to you, because you work in an area where there's been tremendous amounts of advances very quickly, almost to the point where in oncology today what was unimaginable 15 years ago is part and parcel of clinical practice. It's very complicated. And so, you've started a whole network with OncoAlert. Can you tell us what you've done from a digital and social perspective to help bring some clarity to this very fast moving field? And then also, what types of information as it relates to very complicated fields like oncology, do you think companies can participate in, in providing value to those who are on the frontline of cancer treatment?

Gil Morgan: Thanks for the invite, Arun. So I'm a clinical oncologist originally from the U.S. and practicing in Scandinavia. I'm also the director of OncoAlert, as you mentioned, which is on social media. And originally when I started social media was with the intent of just keeping up to date with oncology and keeping in contact with my colleagues worldwide on the daily. So originally I started initially by reading a paper, tweeting about it once a day, and then that was it. However, with every passing day I saw that we were missing a network of professionals that we could actually trust.

There's no filter on social media and we were talking about cancer. I mean, this is very heavy stuff. So that's why I got the idea to start OncoAlert. And OncoAlert is a network of cancer care professionals. These are medical, radiation, surgical oncologists, along with cancer scientists, oncology nurses, and patient advocates. We're a global network with the majority of our faculty coming from the U.S. and Europe, but we're quickly expanding and have a faculty from India and South America.

So the goals of the network are actually to promote the quality of oncology education in order to reduce global disparities, amplify and highlight the needs and concerns for our patient advocates, inform and amplify the latest of oncology. And of course, help highlight and fight against racial disparities and global inequalities.

So OncoAlert is completely nonprofit. So there is no money exchanged or accepted by myself or anyone of the faculty. We're about 20,000 on Twitter, 5,000 on Instagram and 2,800 in Facebook. Our follower base is made up mostly of oncology stakeholders and we continue to grow and further develop our goals to better serve our colleagues worldwide.

Going to the second part of the question, what type of information is best to share? I think that in oncology the role of pharma should be present, however, not in direct contact with the oncologist, due to the way that of the subject oncology is normally not a field where a lot of interaction with pharma is always accepted, especially out in the open on social media. So many see this as a way of influencing those in charge of medications that maintain life in some people. And I understand that and completely respect that. However, this does not mean that pharma cannot have a presence. I think that it's very important to have that presence, but to be there to clarify and give clear feedback and make sure that industry just not come out as a, whatever they say, not as a sales pitch, but more scientific facts.

So if information is coming from industry, I think oncology, in oncology it's better that that information comes from the official industry account and not an employer or a spokesperson. Best conversations that you can have are actually organic. So you have to wait for that organic conversation to develop.

Arun Divakaruni: Right. That's a really interesting point, particularly with I think what we on our side of marketing and education called branded communications. There's a lot of interesting work that's being pioneered by the industry, let's say in particular oncology and surrogate endpoints. Minimal residual disease, what are these new endpoints that we're pioneering to help get medicines approved quicker while people with cancer are living longer? And so I guess what I'm taking away is that as long as we're providing scientific information about the latest advances, how we're structuring trials, what endpoints we're using, and stay away from sort of the salesy type of pitch, that could provide value to what you and your colleagues are doing. Am I reading that correctly?

Gil Morgan: Absolutely. This is something that you don't leave up to chance. So I think it's very important that industry has the advice of stakeholders and the creation of the information that is being delivered and how it's going to be delivered in order to create a more organic conversation and make sure that people have all the information that they need. Granted, once that conversation starts, I think industry can serve as a great goal, and following the conversation and actually providing supporting information if needed.

I'm not a huge fan of spokespeople coming out and engaging, especially if they are employees of that company. So I would advise companies should have a devoted team for social media engagement. I know that was the first question we had in the poll. So social media is no longer what it used to be. It's how fast, easy, and it's even now at times a very reliable way of getting information. And if you have the right network, it could go a long way. So why not invest in having a team who is constantly getting the advice of those stakeholders in order to develop a strategy for engagement? And of course, when I say stakeholders, I don't mean doctors and scientists and nurses, I also mean the patient advocate as cancer and oncology are very complex and you'll need as much information as possible.

Arun Divakaruni: Well, thank you. So with that, I want to thank all of you for sort of this introductory panel. We have a question box open and I'll stop sharing. So perhaps we can have just a little bit of a conversation about some of the topics that sort of you discussed. One thing that I took away is that there seems to be a different level of engagement as sort of required by biopharmaceutical companies, depending on the type of condition that you're treating. Dr. Daneshjou, I'll start with you, particularly as someone who probably sees a variety of different sort of conditions and in terms of research. In addition to your company's spoke people or scientists as the folks you look to, what types of information, particularly visual types of information do you think would be helpful?

Roxana Daneshjou: Sorry. I was just trying to unmute, which seems to be the theme of the pandemic. But basically I think, I mean, I think papers are always really helpful, like posting the original research paper. Often I see people put sort of marketing materials out and fancy graphics and things like that. And then I find myself searching to say, it's fine if there's been a research paper or an abstract or something. So I always think that even if you have that beautiful diagram, always link back to the original research if it's out, or the abstract that was presented at the conference so that people can go back and read for themselves. So I find that really helpful whenever the actual research is included in the posting.

Arun Divakaruni: Cool. Dr. Ali, please, everyone jump in on this. New England Journals doing some really cool stuff of how they're taking lengthy papers and condensing them into visual abstracts and doing podcasts around them and making the content tell a story and being a little engaging. Dr. Ali, can you tell us and comment on, is there an opportunity for us as study sponsors to be able to maybe make the information more accessible and visual right away, and then also provide that deep dive when needed?

Tauseef Ali: Yeah, I think this is an excellent question that can lead to a lot of conversation here about delivery of your research or science. And I think, again, it really depends on who you are delivering it to. If you're delivering it to your colleagues, peers, your practitioners, if it is coming from industry, we are seeing this trend of having abstracts, infographics, many journals. Even in gastroenterology, we have now social media editor for each journal. Their job is to create these infographics and cartoons and of the study and summarizing this mostly for the peers, for the same specialty or for the physicians or scientific community or medical community. I think the need is, how do we deliver our science to the public, to the patients? And I think that's where the role of DOLs, digital opinion leaders really come up.

And I think in my conversations with you in the past also, I learned myself how to appreciate the difference between KOL and DOL, like your key opinion leaders, and then how you morph them into digital opinion leaders, or you create an established, a community of digital opinion leaders who through their knowledge, influence and interactive skills deliver that message to the public. And I think it's time for the industry, for pharmaceuticals to embark new and innovative ways to engage with the public, not only through TV commercials anymore, or advertisements in magazines, but use these social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and engage in branded as well as unbranded information regarding science.

One thing that I always struggle myself, and I don't know if I have a good argument, but I'll just throw that out just for the sake of just an information that I sometimes struggle with the fact that if you engage the scientist or a key opinion leader, the delivery, if it is not well organized, could be biased by their own scientific work. They may have a very biased observation, or they may be very focused on what they do. I mean, they believe in what they do, and that may not be the totality of the information. So we have to keep that in mind also when we are delivering and sharing that information on an open public platform. Now these type of information, whether need to be housed in closed platforms, that's another debate. But I think that's the important message that I think we need, or conversations, future conversations that need to happen.

Arun Divakaruni: That's a really important point. I mean, if we think about it, when designing a double blind randomized placebo controlled clinical trial we put all of these measures in to ensure that there is no confirmation bias, that we're design where we're seeking truth. But I think what we've all sort of experienced and what we're seeing right now happen in the world is, the perception of truth and the perception of what the data says is just as important as collecting the data too. So that's a really important point that the communication strategy around a piece of information needs to be balanced because there's multiple different voices in the conversation. And that's where I think the promise of social in its most egalitarian state has been to provide a better marketplace for those ideas.

You know, Dr. Morgan, I want to go back to something that Dr. Ali noted, particularly as it involves simplifying very complex things and making them more visual. So the NCCN, for example, has patient guidelines that are simplified in a way to help them understand the treatment choices that their doctors are recommending. Likewise, as it applies to very I think deep science, is there an opportunity for us on the industry side to provide maybe overall very, I don't want to say overly simplified, but to condense and to put together all of the fast moving information that's happening, particularly in oncology?

Gil Morgan: That's a great question. And the answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes. I really believe that when you're talking about oncology, I mean, the only thing I can talk about is oncology in social media, because that's where I'm at. [inaudible 00:37:00] specialize, that that's all we see. I wish I had another viewpoint about our other colleagues, but I really don't. So when talking about oncology, not everyone is a sub-specialized oncology working in the university setting and we just have those blinders on a specific target. There's a lot of community oncologists out there that see everything. And I don't know how these people do it, because as it is, just focus in a specific part of oncology is just madness because of this very rapidly developing new drugs, new targets. It's wonderful because it's giving our colleague, our patients new opportunities, but at the same time it's overwhelming if you have to keep up with everything.

So simplification of the information that is coming out, whether it be from NCCN, whether it be from pharma. Pharma is coming out. If pharmaceutical industry is coming up with this drug and they're putting out, maybe instead of coming out with a whole tweet on sharing the actual numbers and showing you the graph, having an oversimplified, the infographic, I think with no text they'd do a lot more good than having this fancy tweet about it. Because that actually puts that information in the fingertips of your rural oncologist, in the fingertips of patients. Oftentimes those are very key stakeholders that we are forgetting. And I think it's something that by having this simplified infographics, you're allowing that information to reach a broader number of stakeholders. So I think it's a great idea.

Arun Divakaruni: Awesome. And, Dr. Daneshjou, as a physician scientist, you both see patients and you're spending time in the lab and working on the more translational aspects of it. Do you think that this idea of visual influence or translates both to scientists communicating about science and then also doctors communicating to patients?

Roxana Daneshjou: Yeah, so I think visual aids are always incredibly helpful. And as you have mentioned, have been something that has gathered steam with visual abstracts. And so I agree with the use of visual aids, again, that then links. I do want to mention something that's on social media, people, a lot of people may use screen readers. And so there is the option of adding alternative text to any visual that you post. And I highly recommend that you do that, because there is a whole community of people who rely on those. And if you don't do that and you just post a visual without including an alternative text and that alternative text doesn't appear in the tweet, it simply appears when someone is using a screen reader. So that's a important consideration to include. I try to do that whenever I have slides, sometimes I forget, but I do want to mention that as something for teams to be aware of.

I do think that visual tools are incredibly helpful. I also think that how you craft your message does depend on the audience. I generally I don't target particular groups, patients or scientists. My tweets are open for scientists, general public. Some of them are more simplified and meant for patients to pick up. Some of them are a lot more technical and are more targeted towards my colleagues, but that's kind of the beauty of Twitter. It's not like I have separate channels for that.

Arun Divakaruni: I am so happy that you mentioned accessibility of information, making sure that our communications are geared towards those who may be visually impaired or something like that as well. I mean, that's sort of the grand beauty of social in its best state is to create a marketplace of ideas. And it's important for us to not forget that some people may just be excluded, and we have to do everything that we can to make sure that they're part of those conversations. And speaking of conversation, before we get to some audience questions, did any of you learn how to do this in medical school?

Gil Morgan: No.

Arun Divakaruni: So, and there's this whole aspect of training and teaching. And Dr. Ali, I'll start with you. And I kind of want to get your perspectives on all of this is that it seems to me that communication is an increasingly important part of affecting public health. We have amazing science that's happening right now. We can use gene therapies to reverse certain types of inherited blindness. We're activating the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer. All of these things are happening. And so has the role of the physician, particularly in today's society gone from just beyond doctor, but from maybe doctor to scientific advocate? And Dr. Ali, I'd like to start with you.

Tauseef Ali: So I think this whole concept of communication skills have not been a focus of attention in our training, whether it's school, medical school training or it's during our residency or fellowship training. Even once we establish our practice, it's one of the most ignored skill for the physician. We talk about how to interact with the patient. And recently I see that in many leadership courses or even physician courses there's a lot of attention now being paid to patient satisfaction. And one of the thing is how you interact with the patient, and that really makes or breaks your patient satisfaction score. So a lot of attention is now being paid to how you interact with the patient, how you communicate with the patient, how it affects their perception, but let alone, we are now learning how to communicate with the patient virtually.

And I think we haven't even made it to where we have started teaching and learning ourself how to communicate with them on social media. So there's a big need for that in terms of learning that. I am not, English is not my native mother language. And I had struggled in the beginning about how to communicate, let alone effectively communicate with the patient. And it was a very eyeopening experience from me when I wrote my first book. It's called Crohn's and Colitis For Dummies. So if you know about For Dummies series by Wiley Publisher, it's written at eighth grade English language.

So it was very difficult for me to convey my science, my knowledge at an eighth grade English language. And I would get my page read out by four different editors. Like, "What do you mean by inflammation? What do you mean by mucosa? What do you mean by this? And that made me realize that you can be a very good scientist. You could be a very good medical communicator, but when it comes to public communication, you have to be aware of the fact that they may not even know all these terms that you're using. So that really is the key. And I think again, there is a need, and that's where industry can really help develop these programs to help position be a better communicator, and not only with their peers or when it comes to just their patient, but to the public also so that they can effectively convey their message on social media.

Arun Divakaruni: That's really interesting. I will point out that since you can write at an eighth grade level, you must figure English very well. Sound great. Dr. Daneshjou, to that end, if the language that we use is part of it, I think we need more physicians and more scientists that have verified check marks on Twitter. And so how do you train people to use these channels in a better and more effective way to advance public health?

Roxana Daneshjou: So I think the verified check mark process has gotten a lot of pushback. They supposedly finally have added a public health category. It seems very, honestly it seems very random who gets it and who doesn't. I think when you craft your application you need to make sure that you included publications, media, things in the media to show that you are sort of like a national voice on a topic. But actually I do a lot of work in educating scientists. So I give a lot of talks at both national and recently and international conference for dermatologists, speaking to the topic of how you use social media for scientific communication and engagement.

Prior to the pandemic I did get invited to a medical school to be part of a discussion panel teaching students about best practices in using social media. So I've been very much involved in the educational aspect of it. And honestly, that's the way that I'm most comfortable engaging is to help scientists learn. I've been asked to sort of create content for companies. And I usually, I mean, actually not usually, every time I say no to that, because my social media channel is just my voice, it's not anybody else's voice and it's not. And I think that just depends on who the person is, it's probably different what people's comfort levels are with doing sort of content creation and partnership with pharmaceutical companies. But I've also done education for companies, like gone and given talks on the ways that scientists engage in new social media and do panels like this to kind of share that information.

Arun Divakaruni: And thank you for doing that because it helps make us do our jobs better. And speaking of content creation, Dr. Morgan, your channel, I was a huge fan of it before we met. I'm going to be a huge fan of it after. It helps me kind of keep a lot of different things, a lot of [inaudible 00:48:31] pieces of information kind of front and center in my head. My question to you is, as somebody who is almost as I would say a publisher as much as you are a doctor, what should people be looking for in order to produce, or kind of get, dip their toe into synthesizing information to help their colleagues make better treatment decisions?

Gil Morgan: I already think, I mean that the best way to get started, or the best way to dive into this is just, be true to yourself. Make sure you know who you are and what you're doing it for. Before you even start doing anything, make sure you know what you're getting into, make sure that you know what the conversations are. Everybody thinks that when you start communicating, the first thing you got to have to do is you start, have to start speaking, you have to talk a lot, when it's the opposite. You have to listen and you have to find out, you have to have your finger on the pulse to know exactly what conversations are had. That is the success of OncoAlert. The success of OncoAlert has absolutely nothing to do with me.

What I tapped into was the need for a global network, for a sense of community among oncologists, and OncoAlert only happens because there are people all around the world who use that hashtag, who tag us all the time whenever there's new content coming out, when there's new drugs coming out, when there's new FDA approvals. In every single oncology congress that we have, there's people that are OncoAlerting all the time, and this is only possible because of the sense of community. So I think the best advice that I could give anyone to get into this and to help us with the amplification of all the medical information that is out there, is to first listen to what their colleagues have to say, listen how people, see how people are communicating. And then it's just that we're all trained oncologists.

And here's the beauty about oncology. I don't know about the rest of the fields, but the beauty of oncology is we have amazing patient advocates who are so well read and who are deep in these conversations. And you're having these very, I have, even though I think I can tone it down, but I never had the need to tone down what I say on social media, because our group is so niche, it's oncologist and oncology stakeholders. And the people that are there, first of all, they're really, really engaged and they know what we are talking about. We know what they're talking about.

And the beauty of it is they have absolutely no problem going up to the biggest guy in there and going, "I don't get that. Can you explain that to me in a different way?" And you do it. And that's, so the best thing to do is just find out what everybody else is doing, and then dive in like the rest of us. I mean, it's not rocket science, and eventually you'll get sucked into and you'll be there contributing like the rest of us.

Arun Divakaruni: Okay, great. So, Daniel, I guess we have, do we have a couple questions from the audience that we want to delve into?

Dan Limbach: We sure do. So, one of the interesting questions here, and I'll give every panelist a chance to talk is, what is new on social media that you are most excited about? What should we be thinking about going into the future, things that we may have not seen in the past? And Arun, I'm going to let you decide who is going to speak on these.

Arun Divakaruni: Dr. Ali, let's start with you first.

Tauseef Ali: So the new things I think I am excited and will be excited more is the engagement through all these social media platforms, creating a new and innovative way of getting our peers as well as patients and public engaged, whether it is through social media or through some older, relatively older social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, ResearchGate. Like all these social media platforms are there, we just need to see what is the best for a certain target audience. And we start using them more often. I think gone are, in very near future I think those, the speaking programs that have been historically in a traditional way of delivering message probably will go away and will be replaced by engagement through social media. And I think we just need to be prepared for that. And I'm just looking forward that how industry will collaborate and create the content and these platforms so that we can have our voice delivered more effectively to public and to the patients.

Arun Divakaruni: Dr. Daneshjou, are you planning anytime soon to leverage your following on Twitter onto a different platform? Where you see [inaudible 00:53:47]?

Roxana Daneshjou: I made a TikTok and I am embarrassed to say that I made a couple of videos and then decide, it's a lot, I mean, social media is a lot of work. I feel like I've gotten to the point where I under [inaudible 00:54:05] Twitter. Whilst that it no longer work for me, I can just do it, and I know what I'm doing, it doesn't take that much time. And as you mentioned, I'm a researcher and a scientist, and just don't have the hours in the day to try to, and I actually didn't join Twitter for to gain this kind of following. I actually joined it because when I was doing my PhD, many of the genetics community was on there. And I wanted to be there to read and learn from the community. I now do more machine learning research, but it's the same thing. I'm mostly on there to learn from the community.

And it's great, because when I first started my derm training there wasn't that many dermatologists on there, and now there's a vibrant dermatology community. We have journal clubs. We recently had a journal club last week reading a bunch of papers on climate change and dermatology. So what I'm most excited about is, unfortunately the derm community on Twitter really started to take off as the pandemic hit. And so we didn't have the opportunity to see the kind of engagement that I'm used to seeing at other types of conferences. So what's really fun for me is that whenever you're at a academic conference is to get to tweet about the talks that you've seen. I would kind of be doing that by myself with no engagement, because there wasn't that many people from the dermatology community on Twitter.

But now there's a very vibrant community and I'm excited for the next American Academy of Dermatology because I'll be able to live tweet talks and tag the speakers in the tweets and get engagement from fellow dermatologists and that sort of thing. And I think that kind of creates a fun ecosystem where even if you're not at the talk, you can get, talks happen concurrently. But if you have enough people, you get access to the information that was shared at research talks that you were not even at.

Arun Divakaruni: Right. And maybe, Dr. Morgan, just to sort of follow up on that in terms of community, I've been fortunate enough to be at the last, I think 15 to 17 ASCOs, and as much as it is an exchange in dialogue of information, it is a place of community. And now with maybe a bit of an uncertain future for live in-person meetings anytime soon, what do you think the role of social is in making sure that you have a strong community of oncologists, not only in terms of sharing information, but as a support network for your colleagues?

Gil Morgan: First of all, if anybody doesn't know out there, ASCO is normally what, like 40,000 people, and then you have SASMO, which is around 25, 27,000 people in the same congress room.

Arun Divakaruni: Maybe I can just real quick, just the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Medical Society?

Gil Morgan: Society for Medical Oncology. So these are our two biggest societies and the two biggest meetings, concluding AACR, the American Association for Cancer Research. They also have a very large meeting. So we're used to these large meetings and we used this wonderful sense of camaraderie, as are all of our other colleagues. And then once the pandemic hit, of course that kind of died down. But I think a lot of us were already on Twitter. A lot of the people that are driving the conversation were in Twitter before the pandemic. And that only got us tighter, at least as that group. And as newer people started to come in, it actually allowed them to have a bigger voice, because everybody was very comfortable with each other.

So all of a sudden you can talk to these incredibly large people in oncology, these people that were just bigger than life, or at least to me. And then later within, by the end of the year, they're your friends. These are people that you talk to on the daily, not only about oncology, but about personal stuff. So, that sense of community continues to grow.

Now, what I am very excited about is this hybrid meeting. That is that new thing that is coming this year as the European Society for Medical Oncology had a hybrid meeting where only the presenters were in pairs and it was broadcasted. Now, I'm very interested to see how this is going to develop into a hybrid where only a few amounts of people can be there. However, those questions are coming in via social media, because if you incorporate these two things, I think it's going be a very enjoyable situation. And I think we've just become very at ease at asking questions with social media. Because it's just a lot easier to just put it out there. So to have that sense of, I can ask anything in a big congress from more people, I think will actually open up the floor. It will lead to better discussion and really a wonderful environment, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Arun Divakaruni: I am too. I think for us it poses a challenge of how to make that really great experiences for you and share really important information that ultimately helps everyone around the world. And so I'd like to thank you, I think we're at time, for your really important contributions, Dr. Ali, Dr. Daneshjou, Dr. Morgan. You're helping us as a community of marketers and educators do our jobs better. So thank you so much for taking time out of your practice, out of your research, to help us do our jobs better. And I hope you guys have a wonderful rest of your day.

Dan Limbach: Well said, Arun-

Tauseef Ali: Thank you for having us.

Roxana Daneshjou: [inaudible 01:00:08].

Dan Limbach: ... from this event, and you've taken away some new insights. If any of your colleagues missed this event, or if you want to see it again, it will be available as a recording in about 24 hours. And you'll be notified via email. I'd like to once again thank our friends at Avant Healthcare, and our amazing panelists for partnering with us on such a great event. I'd also like to encourage you to consider our past and future web seminars and virtual panels by visiting pharmavoice.com. Thank you for your time, and enjoy the rest of your day. The event is now over.


Get in touch

Thank you for visiting us. If you’d like to find out more about how we at Avant Healthcare  can help you and your business thrive, please reach out. We’d love to talk.