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Voice Of Patients – Improving Healthcare With social intelligence

Farhan Shaikh
23 Sep 2022

Today, when one is sick or experiences the onset of any symptoms, they tend to first go online to read up on basic information, even before contacting a medical professional.

Haven’t you done that yourself?

With every thought, opinion, and concern being shared at the mere click of a button, it has become imperative for healthcare providers to listen to patients – their experiences and needs.  The conversations on social media tend to be unfiltered and real-time, giving life sciences organizations access to a wealth of information.

Structured social intelligence – tracking social media conversations on a specific subject and analyzing them for actionable insights – can help healthcare providers to understand the real needs of patients in their wellness journey.

Ensuring Patient Privacy

Getting privacy right, is necessary to ensuring trust and confidence in healthcare. While the medical information is shared voluntarily by the patient online, it is often sensitive and highly personal. So, the social intelligence strategy must strike a perfect balance between understanding the pain-points of the patient and respecting their privacy concerns.

The idea is to collect data within reasonable limits – making sure that you are within the privacy guidelines set by the relevant regulatory authorities. This can be taken care of by investing in social intelligence tools which are compliant with privacy regulations – such as EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), that are respectful of the data protection needs of the customers.

This wealth of gathered data can be then used to analyze overarching narratives, devoid of any personally identifiable data, to spot macro trends. Insights from such data sets, based on conversations between patients, doctors, caregivers, and other stakeholders, can enable life science organizations to provide better medical treatment and care.

Mining Insights From Data

Use of social intelligence in life sciences aims to understand and address patient pain points in their healthcare journey. Keywords, language, and theme-identification remain critical as these set the parameters to monitor conversations.

These factors help predict trends, gather insights, prioritize items, implement corrective measures, and quantify engagement. This enables us to expand the user base, understand key data-points, and deliver personalized communications to patients.

Social Intelligence In The Lifecycle Of A Pharmaceutical Product

Let’s trace how social intelligence can help life sciences organizations with consumer insights throughout the product lifecycle ‒ from development to launch ‒ and beyond.

Driving Sustainable Growth

In life sciences, every social intelligence campaign needs to have a clearly-defined objective. The data which is then gathered will provide fresh insights which are crucial for building new strategies and driving sustainable growth.

For example, in the case of a pharmaceutical company launching a new drug ‒ social intelligence would help understand the needs of the patient, their journey, high-traction channels, competitiveness of the market and market opportunities.  

Other Key Benefits

Here are a few other benefits which life sciences organizations can derive from social media listening:

  • Raising Awareness And Tackling Misinformation: Social media ensures swift dissemination of organizational information across a wider audience. It democratizes access to medical information, enabling people to take care of themselves better.  While it does have the potential to spread false news, social media also has the power to tackle such news through trusted channels. Examples of this include the recent Covid-19 outbreak where doctors proactively engaged in scientific discussions with peers on social media channels from around the globe to improve our understanding of the disease and tackle misinformation.
  • Managing Crises Effectively: When deployed correctly, social media and social intelligence can act as a powerhouse, even replacing local broadcast providers. The onset of the pandemic accelerated this, as more and more people joined online media platforms to follow official social media handles of administrative departments for news and updates.
  • Benchmarking Against Competition: During the mature phase of product development, real-time analysis of data from social intelligence provides a competitive edge. These insights enable recommended actions on the product, benchmark performance vis-à-vis competition, track brand reputation, and much more.
  • Enabling Geographic Market Segmentation: With geo-tracing enabled in most digital channels, social media has become one of the best means for disease tracing. It enables an understanding of the regional differences in disease management, determines availability of crisis centers, identifies advocacy groups, tracks site availability, and much more.
  • Strategizing A Content Roadmap: Social media data analysis can address gaps in the content strategy and create patient-centric content. It also helps provide personalized digital assets, enhance customer experience through influencer mapping, identify latest trends in healthcare and much more.
  • Reducing Costs: Since most healthcare databases have premium pricing and restricted timelines, credible information comes with a cost burden. Social media listening tools consolidate real-time data, thereby reducing cost of collection, analysis, interpreting, and reporting, while continuing to generate insights.


With tech-savvy and privacy-conscious consumers, the life sciences sector is now beginning to rely upon alternate data sources to offer personalized healthcare services. Investing in a comprehensive online strategy which includes social media listening can help life science organizations cut through the noise and just listen. After all, the foundation of providing good services begins with listening.

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