Avant Healthcare’s April Clayton and Rob Spalding teamed up with MM+M to share our recent market research insights on what content and messages are relevant for various physician specialties. During this conversation, we will discuss specialty-specific preferences for channels and platforms, level of interest engaging with pharmaceutical companies, and more to help you engage with HCPs on social media.
Before I hand things over to our speakers, April Clayton, who’s Digital Strategist and Experience Planner, and Rob Spalding, who’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, both with Avant, I’ll just say a few words to let you know what to expect.
Listeners of this webcast are well aware that physicians are people too and are using a lot of the same social media platforms we all do to consume content in both personal and professional capacity. What marketers may not fully appreciate is to what extent healthcare providers are actively seeking and engaging with their peers and scientific content on open social media networks, not just physically closed platforms, nor how to authentically engage with clinicians that do so. In this webcast, April and Rob will answer questions such as, should pharma leverage digital opinion leaders to share clinically-relevant information? What content and messages are relevant across various physician specialties? And what channels and platforms do specialists prefer when engaging with pharma companies, and what’s their interest level in doing so?
I’ll just go over a few housekeeping items before we start. This is a 60-minute webcast with approximately 40 minutes for the content, and there’ll be ample time at the end for QA&A. So be sure to submit your questions through the webcast dashboard, and I’ll be sure to queue them up for April and Rob. Okay, I’ll now hand things over to Rob to kick off the presentation, and I’ll be back to moderate the Q&A portion. Take it away, Rob.
Rob Spalding: Thanks, Marc, and thank you to the MM&M team for the great partnership on this webinar. Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us today. April and I are really excited to share with you some of the high level findings that we have from a recent market research study that we did. While we don’t have time to get through all the data today from the study, we did want to share some of the high level findings. If you’re interested in connecting with us to learn more, we’ll talk about how you can do that here at the end of this webinar.
Before we jump into the research, we thought we would just give a little bit of background on who Avant Healthcare is just to give some context of why we even did this study and from our perspective where we’re coming from. We’re an independent agency. It’s been around for 28 years. We started in the medical education peer-to-peer realm. Now we’ve evolved into a full service HCP marketing agency. But still, we have that deep heritage and science and working closely with opinion leaders. We also have two sibling agencies underneath our DWA parent company, AVAIL, which is focused on speaker bureau meeting planning, and Forefront, that is our silo off CMB company.
Historically, we’ve really been focused on working with key opinion leaders and digital opinion leaders but primarily on a paid and owned content perspective or sponsored content perspective. Over the last several years, many of our clients have been wanting to understand the behavior of HCPs beyond the physician specific platforms and really start thinking about how do we get into that owned content… sorry, the earned content and have real, more authentic conversations. And so that was the purpose for us jumping into this research study and to really learn a little bit more from HCPs about how they’re behaving searching for clinically relevant information on social platforms.
We’ll start off by going through a little bit of the study design and our methodology of the approach to this study. We’ll spend a little bit of time looking through four different hypotheses. And so, we’ve broken up this presentation, the results here, across those four hypotheses that we had going into the study, and then we’ll share some of those key findings for each one of those hypotheses. And then we’ll close out with just some overall learning that we’ve had and some of our thoughts and perspectives on going forward. All right, so we’re ready to get started here.
On the study design, just from a demographic standpoint, we surveyed 150 clinicians, which we know is a pretty good sample size that can give us more definitive answers. We also looked at those 150 physicians across six different specialties, that you’ll see on the left here, of dermatologists, gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, plastic surgeons, and neurologists, and oncologist. Now, each one of those specialties is 25 respondents per specialty, and so we know that the results from those are probably more directional, but we did want to go ahead and cut the data that way as well that we’ll walk through just to start seeing what do we find by specialty, if there are differences or not.
The other thing to highlight just on the methodology section is that one of our key criterias was that physicians had to be on an open platform like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter on at least a weekly basis in order to be included into the study. We started out, for reference, with over 400 physicians that started the screening criteria, and we ended up with only about a third of those, or 150, that were on social open platforms on a weekly basis to be a part of the study. We believe that even though that was only a third of physicians, we do believe that is increasing from what we’ve seen in other studies over the past several years and obviously over the last two years of the pandemic helping to really jumpstart that. We believe it’s going to continue to move in that direction as we continue to go forward.
Some just really quick high level demographics is about three-fourths of the respondents ended up being male, one fourth female. We did skew a little bit younger with the 40% representing the 35 to 44 age group, although we do have representation across several of the older age groups as well. And then from a setting standpoint, we had about even between academic and independent group practice and community hospital, which we were able to look at some of the differences that we saw between academic and community physicians as well and how they’re behaving on different platforms as well. I don’t think we have much data on that here today, but we can totally have that follow-up conversation if anyone’s interested in talking more about that.
As we get into our first hypothesis, and again, as a reminder, we’ll share some of our findings right after we go through that first hypothesis, and then we’ll jump in and we’ll go in that sequence over our four hypotheses. The first hypothesis that we had going into this was that physicians are searching and engaging for clinically relevant content more on open social media platforms today. And so, we wanted to look beyond just the physician specific platforms and start looking at some of the more open platforms, which we were having troubles finding good answers for some of our clients when they had that question. So I’m going to let April share some of the findings that we had on this first hypotheses.
April Clayton: Awesome. Thanks, Rob. We know that physicians are people too. They use social the way that everyone else does. However, like Rob said, we were interested in closed platforms versus open platforms. You’ll see that we sectioned off our closed platforms, physician-only platforms, and we also have a section for our open platforms. You’ll see the bulk of the usage amongst physicians is going to be in the closed platform, so your Doximity, your Medscapes, and Sermos, where you have to be a physician to access those.
Next up, in the open platforms, you’ll see a really high usage of LinkedIn, and from there it trickles down. Now, again, every specialty is a little different, and we won’t be able to get into the specialties today, but each one does operate a little differently, and we see changes between open platforms and closed platforms amongst the specialties.
Now, the type of content that they’re looking for. We pulled this graph together, and this is going to be the top two boxes. This is the content that they found valuable or very valuable. You can see there’s really not much difference across the different sections. So whether it’s new scientific research, information presented at a conference, learning from their peers on disease management, patient management techniques, learning about upcoming professional events and new drug discovery, sharing professional anecdotes, or sharing patient stories or direct messaging colleagues.
I do want to notate on the professional events, we distinguish the events and the conferences a little bit differently. Events are going to be one day events, whereas, conferences can be considered more than one day. But again, we see the appetite is pretty high regardless.
When we look at clinically relevant purposes, so before this is just the type of content that they’re interested in across the board, but when we start thinking about HCPs when they’re looking for information that will directly impact their practice, we see that new scientific research is at the top. Next up, it’s learning from their peers on disease management. And from there, it trickles down on patient management techniques and information presented at conferences. But we do see that if they are looking for any type of information online, it’s definitely going to be something that includes new scientific data.
Now, 85% of our physicians are searching more than once a week. We see that the bulk of the action for our HCPs is going to be a few times a week, once a day, or multiple times a day, which again is completely in line with the idea that physicians are people too. This would be a normal interaction for anyone else when it comes to social media platforms, so doctors are no different. Our next hypothesis is talking about the different platforms and what purposes they serve. Rob, let’s take it away.
Rob Spalding: Okay. So just to highlight and point out, reemphasize what April just talked about is the physician specific platforms that we grouped them this way is really Doximity, Medscape, Sermo. Open platforms, you’ll notice that on a few slides ago, April highlighted TikTok and Snapchat. The interesting thing with that is we were just hoping that more physicians were on TikTok now as several of us really enjoy that platform and see the value from an education standpoint. What we found based upon this study is that only 4% of the 150 physicians were actually on TikTok on at least a weekly basis. Snapchat was even smaller. So we excluded them from all this analysis, but we do have a little bit of tiny, tiny bit of data about those platforms.
One of the questions to answer, one of the ways that we asked the question to answer that hypothesis was about we wanted to uncover what was some of the leading reasons, by platform, that clinicians were searching for clinically relevant information. And so, what we’re going to show next is what are the top three to four types of general content that physicians are searching for by platform. And these content types are areas that we predetermined just based upon what our experience was in discussions with clients. We will have a follow-up study that we’re looking at doing that may get broader than the current content types that we’re looking at. But we just wanted a quantitative way of starting to categorize information.
And so, the first one that we looked at was new scientific research, as there’s probably no surprise here with the physician specific platforms leading the way on there, Doximity, Medscape, and Sermo. This is the type of information they’re searching for as well as new drug discovery, which we realize is very similar to new scientific research. There is some nuance differences. We wanted to see if there would a difference in how they answered it. They answered it very similarly.
The next area type of content that we looked at was just direct messaging. Direct messaging is probably no surprise to any of you all. As April mentioned, we’re all humans, physicians are humans. We all behave similarly in our professional and personal ways. LinkedIn is a way that physicians direct message to each other and communicate with one another as well in a good, easy way. The next content area that we looked at was learning from peers on disease management. And so, Doximity and Sermo lead the way with that for that’s the reason why they’re using those platforms. YouTube as well. We know YouTube, with the exception of a few specialties, it’s not being used necessarily to search for content, it’s more being as a destination from driving from a different platform. But we did include it just to try to see if we could get any learnings on that.
When we start moving into these next five categories, we’re really starting to get into peer-to-peer sharing of information. This first one being around sharing professional antidotes. This is where we start seeing the open platforms really start to be the reason why they’re going to these. And so, Twitter and Facebook were the two primary ones here. As we get into the next section, we’ll start to really see that there is differences within specialists, too, of which platform they’re using and even some data that we did cuts on, that I mentioned earlier, about academics and community. Twitter is one of those areas that seems to be skewing more into the academics based upon our study versus community physicians as well.
The next area that we looked at was learning about upcoming professional events. That’s more of a driver approach to strategy to get physicians to professional events, which is beyond congresses, as April mentioned. Again, this might be for a live virtual event or something like that. Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn being the three that are in that area for that content. Again, Instagram, we’ll talk about it here in a little bit, is a little unique based upon specialty. Specialists are definitely gravitating towards different platforms a little bit. We’re seeing hints of that.
Patient management techniques, it’s a mix between open platforms like Facebook and more physician networks like Medscape. And then sharing examples of patient stories was all pretty much on open platforms, which is interesting, right, because of some physicians that told us that they were nervous about HIPAA, had had HIPAA concerns, yet what they’re wanting to do is share some level of anonymized patient level stories. We’ll specifically talk a little bit more about Facebook here in a minute with some of our specialists.
Then the last one was just about information presented at a conference. Doximity was one of those platforms being used as well as Twitter and Instagram. Again, Twitter and Instagram are those two that were skewed towards different specialties. As most of any of you work in oncology know that Twitter’s very active on ASCO, and Instagram might be much more active with plastic surgeons and dermatologists, for instance. And so, we’ll talk a little bit more about that here shortly.
So then we also wanted to understand, by platform, was there differences and frequency of how often they’re being on these platforms. And so, on the left hand side, you have… We changed the graph side on you, sorry about that. On the left hand side, we’ve got the platforms listed out from the physician-specific ones on top down to the open platforms below that. And then the bar charts that’s going to the right is it starts with never/rarely using or being on those platforms to multiple times per day. And then on the far right hand side, which might be the easiest way to look at this information, is we grouped the far three groups together. So physicians that have been on at least a few times a week, including once a day and multiple times a day, to just see where the differences are. As you could imagine, what’s interesting is because the open platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, have a lot more frequency being on multiple times per week than what does some of the physician-specific platforms.
This makes sense, right? Is all of us are on Instagram or Facebook for our personal lives and we’re scrolling, we don’t necessarily segment out that for personal reasons or professional reasons. It’s all blended together nowadays, right? And so, that’s not necessarily a big surprise, but it is interesting to see. The other thing I’ll point out here is that Twitter, for those that are using Twitter multiple times a day, was really high. It was the highest of any of the platforms at all.
And then the last area that we wanted to really explore on this platform differences was this idea of engagement. And so, this specific question was focused really on sharing content, but we also looked at commenting on content as well as posting original content. The trends were all the same across each three of those categories, is that engagement level on Doximity, Medscape, and Sermo is much lower than it is on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Again, that goes back to, I think, the content piece of why they’re searching for those and what kind of content they’re searching for on those platforms. It really comes back to that peer-to-peer engagement and wanting to connect with colleagues and share information. And that’s happening more on Facebook and Instagram and is happening more real time versus new information that’s being communicated out like an investor release thing of a new clinical study or something like that might be on more Twitter and Doximity and Sermo.
With that, we will jump to our next hypothesis. Our next hypothesis is really around this idea that April and I have both been alluding to, which is, okay, so what are the specialty differences? Are there really specialty differences or are physicians acting relatively similar? April, what do we find on this one? This one’s really interesting.
April Clayton: They are absolutely acting differently. They like different platforms for different reasons. Let’s jump in. We’ve got our specialties listed at the top. You’ll see across the top line that Doximity is going to be number one across the board with all specialties, with the exception of Medscape for gastros. This could be for a variety of different reasons. I do think that it’s important to not only consider the value of Doximity as a platform, but also consider that Doximity has the dialer. So HCPs can utilize the dialer on Doximity to reach out to their patients in a manner that also adheres to HIPAA regulations. So during the pandemic, we might have seen a rise in the use of this dialer.
Next up, this is where we start to get interesting. We see dermatologists using Sermo, gastros, and now they’ve gone to Doximity. Our psychiatrists are on LinkedIn, which was something that I don’t think any of us expected to see, but we see that amongst psychiatrists, neurologists, and oncologists. They are really utilizing that colleague direct messaging portion. I think that it is safe to say that these specialties do do a lot of multi-disciplinary work. So that could also be a reason why we see this collaborative piece and wanting to communicate with colleagues. Plastic surgeons, it’s no surprise here that we see Instagram at 72%.
And for this last line, I just wanted to toss out a few wild cards that I personally thought was really interesting and it wasn’t what I expected. When we see Facebook here, I do want to notate that these are Facebook private groups. These are not Facebook public-facing posts. We also have an [inaudible 00:22:48] where we have spoken to quite a few DOLs. And one of our gastros has let us know that there is a private Facebook group that is very active for gastros. We see this number at 32, walking and knowing that there is a private Facebook group that we do not have access to. But if I know that, and I see this number at 32, I can also suggest that maybe our derms at 56%, and our plastic surgeons at 68%, which is a whopping number, that they also have private Facebook groups that we are not aware of.
So that’s an area for us to continue to gather more information and get more research done, to figure out what’s happening within those private groups and are they using them because they want to speak freely amongst each other? What type of topics are they discussing? So on and so forth. Lastly, I think Twitter and oncologists go hand in hand. It is the place where they can talk about their upcoming research. They can debate. They can go back and forth. It is just a wonderful place for a dialogue, and we do see a lot of our oncologists, especially the academic oncologists, going to Twitter and utilizing it for that reason.
Rob Spalding: Yeah. Hey, April, can I just jump in? One of the questions that came through is just to remind people about how we got to clinically relevant information versus personal information. And so, the way this survey was conducted is we kept on reminding physicians in every single question about clinically relevant information. That’s what we were really questioning and wanting to know more about versus personal information. The upfront screener, we got some of the personal, like just how are you in general on some of these social platforms, but then we wanted to quickly focus the rest of the study just on clinically relevant information. Our assumption is that most physicians are answering the rest of these questions based upon what they’re looking for professionally or clinically relevant information.
April Clayton: Wonderful point, Rob, thank you for bringing that up. So keeping that in mind, we will look at the types of content that vary by specialty. This is where we start to see some of the similarities amongst specialties. We see that gastros and oncologists, true to form, they are interested in information presented at conferences. They’re also heavily interested in new scientific research. I think that plays well into the specialty. These aren’t really big surprises for us.
Next up, you will see plastics interested in patient management techniques and dermatologists wanting to learn more about upcoming professional events. We put these two together because we assumed that plastics and derms would operate in the same way. And in some ways, they do, but in some ways, they don’t. We do find that both specialties are very collaborative, but the things that they’re interested in learning may not always be the same. We do know that they love to learn from their peers so we can see that they both have that collaboration piece, but there is a different appetite from dermatologists on professional events versus plastic surgeons and patient management techniques.
Next up, psychiatrists and neurologists, another group that we did not expect to really act similarly, but they really do. We see patient management techniques at the bottom at 76%. Both specialties are extremely interested in patient management techniques. And then at the top, we’ll see new scientific research and new drug discovery. Those really go hand in hand, and we see that those are both very important to these groups. And here we are with the full view.
Now, specialties are following accounts for similar reasons. This portion we left this open and we allowed our HCP to just give us additional insight, like “What’s important to you?” We think we would’ve done the study and ourselves a disservice had we only given them a few options. This you will see a few different ways of saying new information from a credible source. So gastros, psychiatrists, neurologists, oncologists, they want new information, but they also want it from a very credible source. Across the board, we have seen a lot of information coming in about bias and that being a concern. We’ll talk a little bit more about that later, but just know that that is a thread that we see coming throughout all of the research, and it’s shown right here in the types of accounts that they’re following.
Relevant information from a credible source. Again, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, they want a credible source, but they really want this information to be relevant to their practice. That’s going to distinguish those two special… well, those two groups of specialties. So when we think about plastic surgeon, there are tons of subsets underneath that specialty, and they can range wildly when it comes to relevant cases. This absolutely makes sense, and I think dermatologists will find the same thread, that they want the trustworthy information, but they absolutely want it to be relevant to their cases and their practice.
Here we are, we’re seeing all of this again. We’ll head over to media platforms. This is where I think we found a lot of shocking information. This is where we were able to identify a lot of trends. With dermatologists, we see that they’re at 68% for Doximity. They’re coming in a little bit lower than the overall group. Medscape they’re coming in extremely low. However, they prefer Sermo for their closed platform options. We see that with LinkedIn in comparison to the overall group, they’re coming in a little low with 48%, but that Facebook private group, it’s at 56% in comparison to 35%. Again, this is some indication that there’s probably a private group that we are not privy of just yet.
But again, they still use public Facebook posts. I think that this is something to consider when we’re talking about specialties that can speak not only to their peers but also to patients at the same time. This is one of those specialties that can do that. We will see a lot of public-facing information coming from these groups. We also see Instagram is right there with Facebook, same number, YouTube. Again, rich media group, we’ll see that dermatologists and plastic surgeons both like a lot of rich media. So you will see them gravitating towards images and video types of media that they can really showcase the work that they’re doing or showcase examples of patients or patient techniques.
And then we also have Twitter, which was a little bit surprising, I didn’t expect this one. But they’re clearly getting a bit of dialogue in between each other on that platform. And gastroenterologists, this one is interesting. We see this looks completely different from dermatologists. There’s still on Doximity. Again, tracking a little bit lower than the overall group. But Medscape, wow, 76%. So we know that they’re definitely getting some information from Medscape. They’re going there, and they’re finding the information valuable and useful. Sermo, they’re a little bit lower than the rest of the group. But we look at LinkedIn, they’re tracking higher again.
If I skip the middle section and we hop over to Twitter, we’ll see that they’re at 32% and the overall group is at 23%. I think there’s something to be said about that LinkedIn connection and the Twitter connection. They like to communicate amongst their colleagues. They want to talk to each other. Again, we know this from the private Facebook group and we know that when we look at the other open platforms, public Facebook posts, they’re at 12% in comparison to 29. Instagram, 8%, YouTube, 12%. So this group likes to communicate amongst each other, but they want to do it privately.
Psychiatrists. They’re on Doximity the most. They are clearly finding valuable information from this platform, and they lean more towards Doximity than any other group. Medscape still tracking higher than the rest of the group, as well as Sermo. So we can see for psychiatrists, close physician-only platforms are valuable for them. This makes sense because this is not a group that is going to speak freely about their patients or patient techniques amongst the general public. So it absolutely makes sense. There’s still a collaborative group though. So although they’re not speaking publicly, we do know that they like to collaborate and they like to speak amongst each other. We saw that earlier with wanting to learn from peers, but we can see it heavily in LinkedIn usage for direct messaging. And again, that private Facebook group, there’s got to be something going on in private that we don’t know about. I think it makes sense, so they can speak freely amongst each other without the scrutiny or the concern that may come along with being in a public platform.
If we go over to these public platforms, we see Facebook, Instagram really low. We do see them using Twitter, but again, not as much as the rest of the group, as well as YouTube. Now, TikTok and Snapchat are interesting. These are absolutely outliers, but I think that this could be part of the incoming group of psychiatrists. They’re utilizing these new platforms to either speak to each other or to speak to patients about clinical topics. So this is something that we will continue to do additional research on. But if you want to get more information about especially these two outliers, again, as Rob has said before, we can always provide additional information outside of this webinar.
Plastic surgeons, you’ll see a lot of blue across the board. Let’s jump into the public platforms. We already know they use Doximity. But once you get into Facebook private Facebook public, Instagram, YouTube, all of these are extremely high, and they all have one thing in common, rich media. Again, look at TikTok, 12%, Snapchat they’re at 4%. They like engaging rich media. It, again, makes sense. A lot of times not only are you having plastic surgeons learning from each other, but this is another group that when they are posting and they’re speaking, they’re not necessarily just speaking to their peers, but they’re also speaking to patients. I think that Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are a wonderful tool for this group.
Neurologists, they use Doximity the most of all of the specialties. Medscape, again, they’re at 80%. Sermo, they’re tracking a little bit higher, but not too much higher than the overall group. And then again, we see LinkedIn, it’s like this jump. We know that they’re speaking to each other. We’ve got the Facebook private. There’s some action going on there so we are curious to see, is there a group, what kind of group is there, what’s happening? We see that there’s 28% on the private group in comparison to the public at 20%. When it gets to Instagram, it’s all the way down. You jump over to Twitter and TikTok, those are very low, but there’s a spike with YouTube, so that’s something for us to continue to look into. Are they going to YouTube for educational purposes? Are they getting recaps on conferences and congresses? Or is this a place where they are going to learn additional information, maybe webinars, speaking engagements, so on and so forth?
Last up, oncologists. This group is probably the most interesting group out of all of them. I want to start with Twitter. I mentioned it before, but we can see it here, 36%, tracking way higher than the rest of the overall group. They like to be able to speak amongst each other. Yes, they want to take in content, but they also want to be able to discuss it, and we see that in Twitter. We see these outliers again, TikTok, Snapchat, that’s definitely going to require some additional research. They come in lower on YouTube and Instagram, but we head over to Facebook public, they’re right in line with the rest of the group. Private, 16% versus the rest of the group. Well, we can surmise that there’s not a large private Facebook group for this group.
LinkedIn, it’s right on targets. They’re using it a bit more than the rest of the group. Medscape coming in lower, and Doximity a little bit lower than the rest of the group. So we were surprised by that because we absolutely thought that they’d be using Doximity a bit more. And we see that that is not quite the case.
Now that I have given you all of the specialties and all of the platforms that they like to engage with, Rob, take us away with physicians, and how are they engaging with pharma, if at all?
Rob Spalding: Yeah, so I think this is the crux of what we wanted to really understand, right, and what many of you have been maybe wondering is, on the open platforms, do physicians have an appetite for engaging with pharma or partnering with pharma? Now, we understand there’s a whole, at least with the clients that we work with, is that there’s a whole question about medical legal regulatory and how do we do that. We wanted to first get to just understanding is there, from a physician’s standpoint, a appetite for that.
And so, what we asked first was about content just being posted and would they be open to engaging with pharma on social media. And obviously, this is a difficult question for them to answer, right? A third of them, or 37%, said, “No, they wouldn’t.” 11% said, “Definitely yes.” And then there’s this huge group in the middle of 52% that says, “Maybe or it depends.” Our favorite answer, it depends. It depends upon what that content is. It depends on who is communicating that content. I think that was one of our more interesting findings too, is that when we ask respondents if it would make a difference of who is posting that content. If the account is a physician employee at a pharma company, they were much more likely. 63% of them said they would engage with that content versus a corporate account or a non-physician HCP, which honestly surprised us too. We thought that it wouldn’t be such a big difference between a physician and another HCP, non-physician. But according to this study and with these respondents, there was a big difference there.
So basically, if you’re a physician at a pharma company, you’re two and a half times more likely for them to engage with you than if it’s a non-physician, right? And so, that gives us insights to start thinking about how do we start to have those relevant dialogues in these open platforms. But we also wanted to understand from their words what are some of the challenges, too, that they see of engaging with and partnering with pharma. And this word cloud here was based upon the open ends from the neurologist group, but it’s very similar to and representative of the other specialists that we looked at too. You’ll notice that bias and concern about authenticity and conflict of interest is one of the big drivers to them seeing of how do we overcome that as an industry of still being able to have these open conversations, authentic conversations, but realizing that there’s guidelines and regulations that prevent those truly authentic conversations from happening and opportunities that we need to work through.
We also asked about their willingness and openness to partnering with pharma in social media. Again, similar to the last one that we just looked at, no group was about a quarter of them. There was a yes, there was another quarter, and then the bulk of the physicians at 53% said, “It depends. Possibly, we’d be interested in it,” wanting to know more information. This was pretty similar across each of the specialists. We didn’t really see a difference across the specialist of willingness and openness to partnering with pharma. I think they’re intrigued by it, but they would want to learn more about what that information would be, what that co-creation of content might be in order to have those partnerships.
Just to summarize what are our overall learnings and findings as we look through this initial study, we found that, one, physicians are growing in their use beyond physician-specific platforms. They’re starting to move more and more towards open platforms as they are in their personal lives and having those discussions or searching for information that’s clinically relevant. As I mentioned at the very beginning of the survey, we found that about a third of physicians are on open social media platforms, either searching or engaging with clinically relevant content on at least a weekly basis.
The other big learning that we had, that we spent quite a bit of time talking about here on this call, is there is differences by specialty. Specialties, definitely, have their favorite type of platform and they’re having different types of content that they’re searching for, which may be be no surprise for some of us. Like oncologists, they’re looking for data, whereas, a plastic surgeon may be looking more for patient techniques to do a rhinoplasty or something. I think there are differences by specialty. Now, again, these are directional at best because of the small end size by the specialty group. But we do have some intriguing enough directional data to say, “Hey, we should explore this a little bit more.”
And then I would just say, the last two findings that we really had were about physicians’ openness to really engaging with pharma and how to partner with them going forward, is there is openness to that. It’s more about the how. And so, as we move forward, one of the things that we’re really looking forward to is the second round of research that we’re going to use this first discovery round to get into more. We’ve seen come through some of the Q&As about different types of specialists like cardiologist or ophthalmologists. If there’s other specialties and/or if there’s other questions that you all have that you would like us to dive into, please drop them in the Q&A section. We’re planning on launching that second round of survey very quickly… that second study, very quickly I should say. We’ll keep you all posted on how to connect with us, and we’ll keep you updated with the findings that we have on this information.
As we close out here, just a re reminder that physicians, just like all of us, are human first, right? We behave in certain ways on social media platforms just because that’s what we’re doing in our personal life. The real question then is, okay, so how do we engage with healthcare professionals on these, especially, open platforms to try to find a way past of not being able to have those authentic conversations that they’re searching for? We know the draft guidance from OPDP was many, many years ago, and there hasn’t been anything since then. And so, we know it’s challenging, and each individual client is looking or each individual pharma company is looking at it slightly differently, but we do need to find ways to move forward with how do we have, similar to other industries, authentic conversations on social platforms.
If you are interested in connecting with us and learning more about either some of the data that we weren’t able to get to as general findings, or if there’s a specialty that you want to dive into deeper, say, for instance, psychologist or whatever, please connect with us. We have an email address there. My email address is email@example.com. You can also go to the avanthc.com/socialsite and request either the slides or request one of the specialty subsets of the data, and we’d be happy to connect with you on that and even keep you posted on this next round of research that we’re getting ready to get kicked off. Thank you all for your time. I think I’ll turn it back over to Marc, and we will open it up for some Q&A.
Marc Iskowitz: Great, great. Thank you, Rob, thank you, April for an excellent overview of HCPs on social media. We did have some great questions come in through the Q&A, including clarification of a few points from the research, so we will get to those right away here. The first one I wanted to queue up for Rob and April is this one from Eric, “It seems like there are no destination sources for physicians searching for new information. Do you have a hypothesis why?”
Rob Spalding: Yeah, I can start, and, April, please jump in. First of all, I don’t think we really got into defining destinations and where are you going for the actual, say if there’s a YouTube video and did you really go to YouTube to search or did you just go to Facebook and Facebook had a link or Twitter had a link to YouTube? I don’t think we really got into the specific of questions to really have some really good insights on this at this point. April, you have another point of view?
April Clayton: Yeah, also to build on that, though, Rob, I think that when we think about this digital landscape, platforms are not monolithic. And just like we get our news from a variety of different sources, I think it’s safe to say that physicians are getting new information from a variety of different sources.
Marc Iskowitz: Next question has to do with gastroenterologists, so maybe this is a good one for you, April, since you were leading that portion of the discussion, but the question’s from Amy, “And why were gastroenterologists primarily on Medscape?” As you pointed out, they skewed pretty highly on that platform. Do you have an opinion on that?
April Clayton: I have an opinion on it. I don’t have the Medscape capabilities pulled up, so I could not be able to take that information and compare it to maybe a Doximity or a Sermo. But I think that the data that they’re getting on Medscape just proves to be more valuable. So maybe there is an influx of data research, new drug information, conference information that’s funneling through a Medscape.
Marc Iskowitz: Sure, sure. I think one of the other questions, excuse me, had to do with a recording of this. The recording will be archived on our website for up to a year afterwards. Next question about seeking some clarification had to do with the impact of age on the use of these platforms. I know, April and Rob, you said that you didn’t specifically include age in this discussion, but you did mention that your participants skewed on the younger side and were split, I think, roughly evenly among academic and community doctors. But this person, Mike, specifically wants to know, “What is the impact of age on use of these platforms? Are younger physicians using open platforms at a higher rate? Is that something that you’d be able to share?”
April Clayton: Rob, do you want to take this or should I jump in?
Rob Spalding: Yeah. Do you know off top of your head? I don’t-
April Clayton: Absolutely.
Rob Spalding: …. about the age. Yeah, go ahead.
April Clayton: We don’t have the age cut in this particular presentation, but we can see by specialty and that demographic within that specialty that certain groups are using open platforms more. So younger groups are using more open platforms. I think that just has to do with just the generation, how they’ve grown up. Especially when you start to get to that 35 to 44 range, those HCPs have grown up with MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter that’s just so deeply ingrained in their lives. Whereas, you may get a group such as psychiatrists who skew a little bit older, and they may lean towards closed platforms just because they are more concerned about the safety and the risk involved with everyone being able to see it.
Marc Iskowitz: Sure. And then you called that out April during the presentation that especially with psychiatrists and neurologists with respect to LinkedIn actually.
Rob Spalding: You’d also made the reference to academic versus community, which is one of the sub cuts that we were really interested in. We did find differences amongst how academics in the platforms academics were using versus community. In general, and April feel free to add onto this, but in general, what we found is academics are looking more for what’s new, what’s that new research, what’s that new data, and how do I have a debate on Twitter about what this new data set means versus the community physicians, for instance, especially dermatologists and plastic surgeons, it’s more about their behaving and wanting to be more on platforms like Instagram where they can show and learn from other peers on, on relevant content versus that new content and relevant for their specific practice versus new content that’s just overall going to reshape or impact what’s happening in a certain therapeutic area or specialty.
Marc Iskowitz: Sure. And then gravitating toward those platforms that offer that rich media capability like Instagram and YouTube, et cetera. Switching gears, Jamie has a question about the platform LinkedIn and the activity seen there. I know you both referenced throughout that doctors are using LinkedIn, presumably, for the private messaging capability, but Jamie wants to know if HCPs are engaging within LinkedIn groups versus publicly. Is that something that emerged through your data?
Rob Spalding: We didn’t specifically look for that or ask about that. We looked specifically at Facebook just because, as April mentioned, we’ve got a digital opinion leader advisory board across that’s multi-specialty, and the specialists that we were talking to were highlighting Facebook private groups. However, LinkedIn, I think it’s a good follow up that we can, for sure, put into the future study, for sure.
Marc Iskowitz: Great. Another person has a question about cardiovascular or cardiologists being very active on Twitter. I know, Rob, you said that’s one of the specialties that you wanted to explore in future studies. “So how about ophthalmologists? Is that specialty that you included? One of the registrants, Lisa, would like to know?
Rob Spalding: We did not look at ophthalmologists. It’s another great specialist that we can, for sure, consider. Generally, what we found, April pointed out this on one of our slides, is that physician groups that are more hands-on, I think, are gravitating more to some of the open platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And physicians that are more data-driven, you saw this with the oncologists, neurologists, tend to be more into that what is new and how do I get new data and new scientific information? And from an open platform, that seems, based upon our research with this study, seems to be more on Twitter being the preferred platform on that one.
Marc Iskowitz: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. “Ever hear of a platform or have perspectives on something called Cancer Expert Now?” is something that Anikwa would like to know.
Rob Spalding: I’m not familiar with that, are you?
April Clayton: I am familiar with it, but we did not choose it as a one of the platforms to really dig deeper into. Again, this is the beginning of a larger project. I mean, we could absolutely look into this in the next go around, but for this particular round of research, we did not.
Marc Iskowitz: Okay. Here’s a question about geographics application or applicability of these findings. “Do you believe the data is relevant outside of the US, i.e., Canada?” Or is the context two different given the private/public system split?”
Rob Spalding: Yeah, I think this is a super interesting question too. We did not explore outside of the US in this study. We’ve definitely talked about this and getting more of a global perspective and different countries are going to actual are going to have different preferences and openness to communicating on platforms. And so, this is definitely an area in the future that we would like to explore.
April Clayton: I do want to add that I don’t think that there… No, we don’t know this for sure. Again, I’m so curious to see what the results would be just for opening this up to an international group, but I do not think it’ll be too different based on specialty. I think that they will behave similarly. The closed platforms may shift and change just because some of them are really just geared towards the US. But I think when you start to look at the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world and Instagram, you’ll see some of the same similar patterns and trends.
Marc Iskowitz: Sure, sure. Okay, we have time for one, maybe two more questions. Here’s one about a specific platform that came up a lot in your research, Doximity, “Do you view that as being a one-size-fits-all platform for healthcare providers, and why do you think it has such high number of HCPs on their platform?”
April Clayton: I’ll take this one, Rob, if you’re okay with that.
Rob Spalding: Yeah. Yeah.
April Clayton: I don’t think Doximity is a one-size-fits-all, and I think that we’ve seen this reflected in the data. I think that they have really useful tools on the platform. The dialer is extremely useful. But I think that as we continue to move forward in this digital landscape and we start to have platforms that maybe operate like tech companies, we will see some shifts. I can’t say that Doximity’s going to be the leader in the next five years.
Marc Iskowitz: Mm-hmm. Right. Especially with the [inaudible 00:57:45]-
Rob Spalding: I just think if we think about our personal lives too, very few of us are probably on a single platform, right? I mean, we’re on multiple platforms. We’re not really looking for a one-size-fits-all like we might have been historically. I think we like being able to hop across different platforms and connect with different people in different ways across those different communities. I’m with April on this, I don’t know if there’s ever going to be a winner coming out on the physician-specific platforms that dominates everyone else.
Marc Iskowitz: Sure.
Rob Spalding: Agree.
Marc Iskowitz: And I think we have time for one more question. As you mentioned, Rob, in your closing comments, it’s been a while since OPDP came out with their guidance on how a regulated industry like pharma can operate safely on social, but in the meantime, companies do need to figure out how to engage authentically. What’s the most low hanging fruit, if you will, for a brand, say, to get started in terms of partnering with physicians on social?
Rob Spalding: Yeah, I’ll start, and April, feel free and to jump in. I think why we’ve started it with our clients is, depending upon the client’s appetite and the pharma company’s appetite, is really about starting with that physician to physician openness and authentic conversation. That can typically happen in medical affairs much easier than it can happen on the commercial side. What we’ve seen with some of our clients is that’s where we get started with being more active on some of the open platforms. And then that pharma company gets more comfortable interacting and engaging through medical affairs and can start to see how we can start to bring that into a commercial discussion as well. Anything to add, April, on that one?
April Clayton: No, I think you hit the nail on the head with that one.
Marc Iskowitz: Okay. Really appreciate the overview of how to engage with HCPs on social media, Rob and April, but that’s all the time we have for today. I want to thank you both for an excellent presentation on these insights from Avant Healthcare’s recent market research study on messaging and channel preference across the various physician specialties and how pharma can better serve their information needs. I want to thank everybody out there for your super questions, which not only help clarify the results but also provided, I think, a lot of fodder for Rob and April for their next research presentation.
The session is being recorded. As I mentioned, it will be available for streaming on demand in the webcast section of our site for one year post event. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact April and Rob at the address that they showed on the screen, and they’ll be sure to provide their slides and answer any other questions that you have on this topic.
Okay, everybody, thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
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