Key Healthcare Insights from SXSW

Key Healthcare Insights from SXSW

03.24.11 | By Bob Pearson

Each year, interactive leaders make a point of attending SXSW in Austin. This year, more than 19,000 people attended, including an increasing number of people who work in the healthcare industry. The first-ever health track was marked by overflowing meeting rooms for virtually every session. As usual, we listened closely to what was being said in the meeting rooms and on the sidewalks of Austin. Here's what we found of interest.

#1 - Blogs are Mainstream - People were talking on the street about the importance of data showing that 61 percent of healthcare providers have read a blog and 79% have watched an online video for personal or professional use. Of course, we know from our own analysis of the healthcare industry that blogs and twitter account for approximately 65% of all news flow. So, in reality, some providers may believe they aren't reading blogs, but if they looked more closely at their news flow, nearly 100% of those online would see that this is now the norm.

#2 - Safety & Social Media Do Go Together -- One pharmaceutical industry speaker explained how important it is to make it convenient for patients to report an adverse drug reaction via social media sites. The industry is looking forward to the FDA's guidance on the role of social media in reporting safety issues.

#3 - Patients Want More Interaction with Physicians in New Ways -- patients are clearly using social media sites and content to extend their health care and they want communications with their doctor to also occur outside the office. Fred Muench of The Partnership at www.drugfree.org said that 30% of patients have e-communications with their healthcare provider, but up to 70% of them want to have e-communications with them. Perhaps even more revealing, according to Fred, is that 78% of patients would like a counselor automatically alerted if they relapse.

#4 - The Doctor is In - and online. Experts are steadily reclaiming their role in the conversation. It was never realistic that doctors would devote more time to speak 1:1 with patients after hours. However, what is happening is that experts are increasingly figuring out how to share their key learning's with everyone online - a group that now consists of 240 million people in the U.S. and two billion people worldwide. One example of how people are learning is www.sharecare.com, a Q&A platform for people to learn about their condition from physician experts. Columbia University now has 11 different Facebook pages. The clear trend is moving in the direction of expertise shared by providers in social media settings.

#5 - The Silence is Deafening for Private Communities - as patients increasingly look for healthcare information online, it is becoming a natural progression for providers to share learnings publicly for all to see. This is how the web works best. What is important to note is that literally no one we can think of talked about the value of private, walled-off communities. Open is the theme. This is one of the reasons why many of us are hopeful that future FDA social media guidelines will ensure that the experts move from the sidelines and participate openly and transparently to educate patients and each other. We want to hear from experts inside companies, government and third party groups. There is much value in us learning together.

Let us know of other insights you may have from SXSW. In addition, here are other key non-healthcare insights from the meeting.

All the best, Bob Pearson
Note: Sharecare, PhRMA and Pfizer are clients of WCG Company.

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