by Weber Shandwick
 

A cross-collaborative team of the Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) and the Weber Shandwick Healthcare and Digital practices, has led to the development and launch of the first non-prescription medicines industry guidelines for social media use.

Those of us who work in the healthcare industry will be all too familiar with the challenge that social media presents. There is no doubt that we have well and truly entered the digital era, but while most have embraced it, the healthcare industry has traditionally been quite hesitant.

One of the main concerns with social media integrating into the healthcare industry is the complexity of regulations surrounding health communication. There are codes that determine the way in which therapeutic goods are marketed and promoted, and responsibilities of both healthcare professionals and healthcare companies that need to be considered.

The opportunity and need for healthcare organisations to actively engage in social media has become more apparent. Patients and health professionals are participating in online media at an increasing rate, making the availability of credible content from health organisations more vital than ever.

Social media has changed communications and it is critical that the healthcare sector is responsive to this change. The demand for information is high, with almost 80 per cent of people searching for health information online, and patients sharing experiences and asking questions more than ever before.

The healthcare industry needs to drive comprehensive health education and audience engagement in an online arena. Marketers need to feel confident and secure in providing the right information to audiences.

So how could the healthcare industry enter this digital space and make a meaningful contribution to social media in health?

A solution was recently offered at the annual Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) conference held in Sydney in November.

Jye Smith, Head of Digital, Asia Pacific, Weber Shandwick, helped ASMI launch a new set of industry guidelines to assist non-prescription healthcare marketers to continue to engage with online audiences in a compliant and responsible manner.

ASMI recognised that with the growing presence of social media in Australia, it was important to prepare healthcare organisations to engage with consumers in this new space. Weber Shandwick provided its expertise in healthcare and digital media to create a set of practical guidelines based on real-world experience of working across both disciplines.

The new guidelines essentially represent the evolution of the Australian consumer healthcare industry, recognising the increasing importance of responsible behaviour and sharing of information in the social media and digital content era.

The industry needs an agreed framework to help build confidence in connecting brands and information with social media audiences. Having these guidelines will hopefully give healthcare organisations, and their agencies, a platform to openly discuss social media and content strategies in the healthcare space.

Gareth Finch is Vice President – Head of Healthcare at Weber Shandwick Australia. GFinch@webershandwick.com

Image credit: Martin Voltri 

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