Collaboration is key to success for Doctors.net.uk
Dr Tim Ringrose
Digital channels are well established among the medical community and research shows that doctors are increasingly turning to them for professional information, advice and education, as well as collaboration among their peers.
The use of digital channels has many advantages for doctors, including the fact that they enable them to ‘self-service’ their information needs and access information at their own convenience.
Doctors.net.uk – the UK’s largest and most active online professional network of doctors – which was set up in 1998, is founded on the principle of collaboration, not just among doctors but the health industry at large.
The network, which pioneered the use of social media in a professional, peer-to-peer environment, is the most trusted online resource for the majority of its 184,000 members.
In order to offer its service free of charge to doctors, Doctors.net.uk generates its revenue from running targeted engagement campaigns for its clients, which include the pharmaceutical industry, medical technology companies, the government and health care providers.
“The use of digital channels has many advantages for doctors, including the fact that they enable them to ‘self-service’ their information needs and access information at their own convenience.”
Working with pharma companies
Doctors.net.uk works with nine out of 10 of the world’s leading pharma companies to run educational campaigns for GPs and specialists on a variety of disease areas and medical conditions.
These campaigns – which are informed by extensive qualitative and quantitative research from Doctors.net.uk’s independent research company, medeConnect Healthcare Insight – enable pharma companies to present news, views and information in a way that can really benefit doctors’ clinical practice and influence changes in doctors’ behaviours.
Becoming thought leaders
By working in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk , pharma companies can establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in their field, and set themselves apart from their competitors.
They can also dramatically extend the reach of their face-to-face sales teams by interacting with tens of thousands of doctors across the UK at the touch of a button whilst ensuring their brand proposition is differentiated, consistent regionally and front of mind with a key target audience.
By marrying educational information with a business proposition and aligning it with the sales force, Doctors.net.uk can also add value to the work of sales representatives and assist them in delivering a whole benefits package. We can help clients sell an end-to-end solution for a patient by showing how a product can be used to help them gain the best outcomes on their care journey.
Furthermore, the programmes are continually measured, evaluated and re-adjusted where necessary to ensure they achieve maximum impact. For example, measures included how many doctors have engaged with the content, how doctors have reacted to the campaign and which content is most popular.
Collaboration through sponsorship
There are also mutual benefits for pharma companies and other organisations to work in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk by sponsoring specific campaigns run for its members. Such sponsorship can involve the provision of authoritative, credible information that really adds value for users as well as hosting events such as round tables.
For example, Roche is among the pharmaceutical companies that are sponsoring independently authored educational resources within Doctors.net.uk’s new Cancer Insight Centre – a unique resource, which is designed for oncologists, haematologists, GPs and other medical professionals involved in cancer care, and has been created in support of the Government’s stated objectives around early diagnosis.
“Roche is among the pharmaceutical companies that are sponsoring independently authored educational resources within Doctors.net.uk’s new Cancer Insight Centre…”
Another organisation involved in the Cancer Insight Centre is oncology specialist The Royal Marsden. It was the first NHS Foundation Trust to use the Centre to engage with doctors on cancer-related topics, with activities including a round table debate on radiotherapy.
Aliz Csaki, Marketing Manager of the Royal Marsden, said: “As a world leading cancer specialist with two UK hospitals and a groundbreaking research programme, we have extensive resources that are invaluable to GPs and specialists alike.
“Working in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk enables us to share our expertise and effectively reach thousands of doctors across the UK via targeted educational campaigns that aim to contribute to doctors’ clinical practice and, ultimately, aid in early diagnosis and more effective treatment of cancer.”
Another leading organisation that is working in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk via the Cancer Insight Centre is Cancer Research UK – the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. The charity, which aims to greatly reduce cancer death rates, wants to engage with thousands of GPs on two major cancer issues this year – early diagnosis of cancer and smoking cessation. It will use the Cancer Insight Centre to run some elements of this campaign, such as an eCME quiz and patient case studies.
To conclude, collaboration brings benefits to all parties involved in Doctors.net.uk. It allows members to use the service free of charge, whilst providing a channel through which the health service and industry can effectively demonstrate their expertise to doctors via educational campaigns that bring measurable benefits to clinical practice.
About the author:
Dr Tim Ringrose is the Medical Director of Doctors.net.uk.
What can pharma companies bring to online doctors communities?