Solving problems is about collaboration – it’s about finding others with the right skills and inclination to help identify a solution. When people are asked about what they value most in life it’s not uncommon to hear ‘family’ and ‘health’ at the top of their mind, so it’s fair to assume that problems with our health are the most pressing ones we will ever face. Therefore, they are the most important areas for collaboration.
I would argue that many of the health problems facing society today, from chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes through to acute threats like cancer, can actually only be solved by collaboration across all the healthcare stakeholders. The pharma industry may be the one developing medicines, but the doctors and patients need to have access to them and use them effectively for them to have an impact. They are increasingly judged by their value in the real-world that we live in every day, not the clinical trial setting.
This was one of the reasons why I founded pharmaphorum as a new publication some years ago, with the motto of ‘bringing healthcare together’. I always wanted it to be a vehicle for stimulating dialogue between the pharma industry and all the other people working in healthcare, including the patients themselves, who could help to make a difference. And from the outset – blogging was at the core of it.
Right from day one I invited guest bloggers to share their views and took to social media (primarily Twitter) to help connect with potential new authors. Skip forward a few years, several thousand articles and almost 12,000 Twitter followers and it’s helped to build the most amazing network of people all over the world, from pharma communications professionals in the US, to epatients in Europe and health technology experts in Asia. What is really amazing is how many of those people I have actually got to meet and the conversations that have developed off the back of a simple invite to publish or, increasingly, inbound messages in response to an article. From small acorns and all that.
Of course, an article itself is unlikely to solve the most pressing health issues. It won’t develop an effective new medicine or save anyone’s life, but it will provide the catalyst of an idea, help connect it with others who can build on it and put a face and a name to it, rather than being from an anonymous corporation. With those in place, you have all the ingredients for a digital handshake that could lead to real collaboration – to a phone call, a meeting, perhaps even an advisory board leading to a fantastic new idea to improve outcomes for patients.
But blogging – and especially running a blog – also provides a really credible platform for building trust. Blogging is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your desired reader, thinking about what is of interest to them and inviting other folks, as guest bloggers, to also share their views. It’s about continuous engagement focussed on relevant, common interests, not periodic campaigns focussed on a one-sided didactic and product-focussed agenda. It’s about simply starting conversations that will naturally stimulate collaboration and, ultimately, better real-world solutions.
For all these reasons, I believe that every pharma company has to behave like a publisher to ensure it is an integral part of the healthcare conversation. Its voice is as valuable as every other.
About the author:
Dr Paul Tunnah founded pharmaphorum media in 2009, which has rapidly evolved and developed its offerings to drive better communication, connection and collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and other healthcare stakeholders. Today, the group spans expertise in publishing (www.pharmaphorum.com and www.diseasespotlight.com), engagement consulting (www.pharmaphorumconnect.com) and media projects coordinated with patient organisations / charities (www.pharmaphorumhcp.com). Prior to this, Dr Tunnah attained a BA in Biochemistry and DPhil in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, before working in commercial consulting for Datamonitor, IMS Health and SmartAnalyst.