How Leading HCPs Identify & Engage with Diverse Voices Online

Social media has given patients a powerful platform. Consumer research shows that 87% of social media users share their health information on one channel or another. And leading HCPs are using it to identify and engage with diverse voices online!


It’s easy to see why consumers interact online. Not only can they express themselves and find support in their peers, but they also have access to important information which increases their ability to navigate their current circumstances. And to health care professionals (HCPs), social media is an equally important tool to disseminate information, engage the public, and gather real-time consumer research data.

In a recent webinar hosted by Fierce Pharma, the audience explored the role of social intelligence in patient care and consumer research. Titled Understanding Patient Voice and Diversity with Social Intelligence, the talk explored how leading HCPs use social media as a way to improve their understanding of patients, as well as how they use the information gathered. None could have been a better keynote speaker than Michael Durwin, Director of Social Intelligence & Communities at ICON. He was accompanied by NetBase Quid®’s Senior Director of Healthcare, Austin Clemens.

Apart from his 26-year experience in social communications, Durwin has used NetBase Quid® for the last 13 years, so he knows how to get the best out of the platform. He shares some of the ways HCPs, in particular ICON, use social intelligence:

  • recruiting study subjects,
  • monitoring adverse events,
  • predicting disease outbreaks,
  • discovering patient trends, and
  • improving diversity in clinical trials.

Healthcare is an evergreen topic on social media, of course, with contributors ranging from healthcare professionals to patients and care givers. How is Durwin and his team able to identify and engage with specific demographics within such a diverse group of stakeholders?

Isolating Patient Language from General Conversation

Conversation about health care is vast on social media. HCPs know that there are diverse voices online––and this is something that social listening can pick up on. The trick is to ensure they’re targeting the particular demographic they are interested in.

This requires them to distinguish the specific patient language used i.e. the words used in social media conversations. Durwin says that patients don’t use the same language that professionals do. For instance, they don’t describe conditions using technical terms like their HCPs. Therefore, it is easy to pick out the two from the crowd.

patient-use-common-terms-to-talk-about-healthcare

Patients use common terms.

Understanding the voice of the patient allows HCPs to create content in words and formats that consumers can easily digest. Content created in the language of the patient is easily found through search engines. Durwin explains that patient queries reflect their everyday language. They are not going to talk a certain way on social media and modify their search query with technical language.

Filtering Out Irrelevant Themes

HCP social listening is performed amidst other conversations that are not relevant to the consumer research – politics, finance, sports, and other irrelevancies that plague social media channels. Filtering out irrelevant themes, even those that are closer to the target, can be an extraordinarily tedious task, says Durwin.

Once the patients have been identified through the kind of language they use, the next step is to target specific themes within those conversations. With NetBase Quid, sifting through the noise is simple and super fast. This is because the platform has a feature designed specifically for this type of work called “Themes.”

filtering-with-themes

Themes makes it easy to sift through social media noise.

By filtering conversations in this way, HCPs can refine their search and get an accurate analysis based on the target conversations.

Recognizing Diversity

HCPs know the impact of diversity in treatment. Whether it’s ethnic, biological, anatomical, or cultural––diversity plays an important role in any kind of treatment or health education.

Through social intelligence, HCPs can understand the conversations and trends among different ethnicities in a particular location. This helps them, for instance, to ensure that a clinical trial is well done by bringing in a diverse group of subjects.

identifying-ethnicities

An ethnicity chart in NetBase Quid®.

Recognizing diversity in patient conversations helps HCPs measure awareness across different groups of patients and improve their efforts to reach them. And all of this social media data contributes to their understanding and allows them to better predict patient behavior, says Durwin.

For instance, when COVID began to spread and people started talking online, Durwin and his team examined ongoing conversations to know how people were likely to receive a vaccine if it became available. In July 2020, six months before the first vaccine was announced, they discovered that 36% of Americans were not ready to get vaccinated, regardless of any accompanying information. This turned out to be true when the vaccine was finally announced.

To hear about this and how Durwin’s team predicted the 2016 US presidential election a year in advance, view the recording of the webinar by following this link: Understanding Patient Voice and Diversity with Social Intelligence. You will also see a detailed demonstration of how to distinguish patient language, filter out irrelevant themes, and recognize diversity. It’s all game changing stuff!

NetBase Quid® works with various stakeholders in the health care industry to help them learn relevant intel to inform decision-making that impacts their daily operations. To augment traditional approaches, they take advantage of our AI-powered technology to extract unbiased insight from primary and secondary datasets, offering a more complete picture of the patient. If you would like to know how we can help you perform better too, please reach out for a demo today and we will have an expert show you.


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