From Maureen Wendell, VP, Account Services, Palio

In 2009, I attended several diabetes medical meetings (ADA, AACE, ENDO, AADE) and noted a modest digital footprint – wireless café and abstracts on CD. Ho hum. At ASCO 2010, I was amazed at the transformation. Is it the progressive oncology community or a sign of the rapidly changing world of digital communications and social media? The answer is yes.

Oncology by its very nature is one of the more technologically savvy disciplines and its specialists are highly interested in engaging online according to Manhattan Research (2009 ePharma Physician v9.0 #6). Disease complexity, extensive tumor classifications, rapidly evolving diagnostics, genomics and treatments have created a community thirsty for information and communication. And ASCO has stepped up to satisfy its members’ appetite.

From their networking website – ascoexchange.org – to the ASCO 2010 “Tweetup” held in Chicago on Saturday to gather physician insights on unmet needs and new opportunities – ASCO is clearly telling us that online communities and social media matters. Here are a few examples:

Twitter – over 2,000 followers are kept up to date on trial results, award winners, podcasts, schedule changes and membership benefits.

Dr. Blayney’s Blog – ASCO’s President is leading the way with his own blog where he shares experiences on EHR, e-prescribing, and safety standards.

Oncology EHR Exchange – in this ASCO forum, 450 members, including EHR vendors, can discuss electronic health records. Dr. Blayney was recently quoted in ASCO News stating: “It would be great to see online conversations start up around each of the major EHR vendors, so that those who are interested in purchasing or acquiring this technology can learn from our experiences with EHR products. Vendor representatives participate in the Oncology EHR Exchange and check in to see what users are saying. Unlike a yearly meeting, we can use this forum to create a virtual users’ group with the opportunity for continuous learning.”

Here we have ASCO leadership asking an industry stakeholder for help in satisfying the need for continuous learning. While many pharma brands focus on patient communities as they navigate the brave new world, are they missing an opportunity to take a leadership role in meeting this important need for healthcare professionals?

Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.
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