Social pharma faces: Andrew Spong

Paul Tunnah interviews Andrew Spong


There can be few people familiar with digital pharma who have not heard of Andrew Spong, one of the earliest adopters of social media within healthcare. With a strong background in publishing, Andrew is more recently known for his pioneering work on driving the online healthcare conversation and for his consulting work advising pharmaceutical companies on how to get the most out of digital engagement.

But Andrew’s work goes far beyond the halls of big pharma, driven by a passion to unite different stakeholder groups in the healthcare landscape toward the common aim of better patient care. To this end, Andrew launched the healthcare social media Europe Tweetchat sessions (#hcsmeu) with Silja Chouquet back in 2009 – a move inspired by the US #hcsm chat established by Dana Lewis – which now sees many members get together every week and talk about current healthcare challenges through the medium of Twitter.

We asked Andrew to clarify the aims and objectives of #hcsmeu, to explain what he perceives as core to healthcare social media and what successes and failures he sees within the digital pharma space. Andrew also elaborates on where he sees the healthcare social media space heading in the future and, within an area that can seem quite daunting, how he suggests social media novices within pharma take those first steps to getting involved.

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About the interviewee:

Andrew Spong, PhD worked for a decade in academia and a further 11 years in scholarly publishing before turning his attention to the health conversation on the social web. An industry thought leader, Dr. Spong provides social business development and health communications consultancy services to the Pharma industry and allied concerns. He publishes regular comment and analysis at and is co-founder of influential European Twitter-based community Healthcare Social Media Europe (#hcsmeu).

Can pharma learn from the #hcsmeu conversation?