How the Internet Has Changed the Pharmaceuticals Industry

James Wilson
December 15, 2017
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There’s no doubt that the internet has changed all aspects of our lives in some way.  From the rise of internet shopping to social media, there are so many changes that have taken place because the internet is widely available.  The healthcare professional has seen many changes, mostly positive but some negative.  And so too has the pharmaceuticals industry.

Improvement in patient communication

Communications have improved in all aspects of life.  From sending instant messages on Facebook messenger to giving people your website address in a subtle email signature provided by specialists like ZippySig communication is one of the biggest changes.  For the pharmaceuticals industry, the change has come in two main ways – how it markets itself and how it communicates with patients.

Patient portals, online communities and apps are all ways that the industry can better learn about what patients need and to work with other areas of the healthcare industry you meet those needs.  It has also meant more a more multi-layered patient journey that helps to provide a more accurate and specialist answer to every medical query.  This, in turn, means companies know exactly what patients need and misdiagnosis can be reduced.

Working with healthcare to provide services

The partnership of pharmaceuticals and healthcare has experienced a subtle shift due to the internet.  Rather than just producing drugs that should deal with the problem, both have shifted their focus to providing services.  The healthcare professional provides a service to find the problem and look at the options.  The pharma industry looks to provide the best (and most cost-effective) solution to that problem.

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Examples of this can include coaching services for patients recovering from heart attacks used alongside the drugs required to control the condition.  Apps that help patients manage stress, chat with someone and find information about what medications might help them are another example.

Improving diagnostics

If you have visited the doctor recently and discussed a new medication or a new side effect, you will often see them check up on the internet.  That’s because pharmaceutical companies keep information online for medical professionals to consult to find out everything about a drug.  What might happen if combined with other drugs, common and uncommon side effects, possible problems due to certain medical conditions – all of this is easily accessible online.

This wealth of information also helps to improve diagnostics and reduce the risk of problems due to a lack of information.  Of course, there will always be the unexpected, the previously unseen but this database of information can dramatically reduce conflict issues.

Overall efficiency improvements

Finally, the whole process of developing, testing and producing drugs has been greatly enhanced by the internet.  Things take less time because communication is instant – email, messaging, text or other channels take seconds, not days to pass developments and answer queries.  R&D can bring real-time technology to clinical trials while the supply chain can be made much more efficient.

Conclusion

There are some concerns about online security that are constantly being addressed, but overall, the effects of the internet are positive ones both for the pharmaceutical industry and the wider healthcare profession.