If this year’s DigiPharma Sydney conference is any indicator, pharmaceutical companies across Australia are embracing the digital revolution. Whether it be patient interaction via a Facebook page or using an iPad to inform healthcare professionals about emerging health solutions, there’s no doubt that our healthcare industry is exploring the use of digital and social media channels.

While a product manager’s first instinct may be to approach a digital media strategist to develop and guide their pharmaceutical company or division through an online health campaign, it’s important to consider the agency’s real credentials. Do they have extensive knowledge of, or experience in working with health care professionals (HCPs) and on consumer health campaigns? A digital media program may seem innovative and exciting at first, but should the chosen digital strategist or their agency lack a genuine and proven understanding of the therapeutic area, target audiences, key opinion leaders, medical and consumer media, and the ways in which key stakeholders already communicate both off- and online, the campaign is doomed to fail.

Furthermore, pharma digital campaigns are still subject to the same regulatory Codes (the Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct and the Medical Technology Association of Australia’s Code of Practice) as are traditional PR, communications and advertising programs. A thorough, working knowledge of the Codes, and a mutual (pharma company and digital strategist/agency) understanding of the campaign’s goals within the constraints of the regulations, is pivotal to the development and success of a campaign.

A PR or communications agency specialising in digital health media solutions is well placed to develop a targeted digital and social media strategy accounting for the above, while injecting plenty of creative flair. By carefully selecting and forging a strong partnership with a dedicated health communications agency, a digital campaign will not only flourish and succeed, but the pharma team will also learn how to best take ownership of the digital or social media program and to further develop innovative online health initiatives.

VIVA! Communications is participating in the Sydney Digital Pharma Marketing Australia 2011, and bringing live updates from the conference this week.

To learn more about DigiPharm 2011 and innovative digital solutions for your health campaign, contact VIVA! Principal, Kirsten Bruce on 02 9884 9011 or 0401 717 566.

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