Patients and caregivers consult a number of resources when seeking health-related information and making important health-related decisions. Pharmaceutical firms have always known how important it is to foster such information discovery and dissemination—often by partnering with doctors, who can help patients out there seeking answers. But, before our eyes, a social network is emerging that is connecting doctors to patients, enabling this correspondence to take place at a higher rate than ever, in a public forum where others can view the answers to questions as well. Boasting over 35,000 licensed and qualified doctors, HealthTap is a new online network where patients can ask questions and doctors will answer them. Patients can also peruse questions others have asked and view the answers.

If your interest is not already piqued, consider the treasure trove of valuable information (and opportunity) this presents for the shrewd pharmaceutical firm. Here are just a few ways HealthTap could be utilized by pharma to optimize their messaging to patients and healthcare providers alike.

  1. Listen and follow: Identify the pressure points and frequently asked questions patients and caregivers have on a related ailment, medication, or test and use these insights to hone your consumer messaging, your website, your printed materials, and your product’s framework.
  2. Connect with doctors: There may be doctors affiliated with your pharmaceutical firm to speak on behalf of your products or services; this expertise can also be put to great use to help disseminate that information to patients seeking answers. Patients are looking for experts who can provide information and answer their questions. Don’t hesitate to help provide them in a truthful, helpful, and caring manner!
  3. Learn about your competition: What are other healthcare providers saying and recommending? Do they explicitly mention your product or service and do they like it? Why or why not? What are they saying about your competitors? Discover the pressure points and concerns of the healthcare providers, too, and hone your sales pitch and materials to better address their needs.
  4. Follow topics and questions: Create an account for free and selectively follow relevant topics and questions. This way, you can easily be alerted when something relevant has been posted, and you do not need to constantly check and monitor the site every day for pertinent posts.

Do you have anything to add? Do you think HealthTap is worth paying attention to for pharma?