Academic Network Combines Healthcare and Social Media Expertise to Lead Pharma, Food, Beverage Industries Safely into Health 2.0

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Award-winning medical communications firm enhances social media services to help clients engage customers and patients where they are most apt to gather information -- online.

By monitoring forums where participants are able to speak freely with one another, we can report more accurately on customer experiences and provide better information to our clients.

Academic Network, an award-winning medical and health communications firm, is now offering new services to help clients practice safe, protected consumer engagement in the growing world of Health 2.0 -- the use of social media for collaboration between patients, caregivers, medical professionals and other stakeholders. Because the trend toward Health 2.0 is growing so rapidly, Academic Network has started utilizing social media platforms to gather consumer information on new products, recruit patients for clinical trials and help clients successfully build, monitor, manage and track their online reputation as they engage with consumers online.

According to a recent report by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA, The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media, "The phenomenon of the wisdom of crowds has begun to change consumers' relationships with their traditional touchpoints in health: physicians, health plans, suppliers and pharmacists. By sharing ideas, discussing symptoms, and debating treatment options together, all of these stakeholders gain knowledge that can ultimately improve patient care."

Academic Network has tapped into the social media phenomenon to help companies glean powerful information at the earliest stages of product research. Academic Network's use of interactive social media to recruit subjects for large-scale clinical trials ensures even speedier completion of product research, higher quality of data, and accuracy of information that consumers will ultimately rely on for the safe use of both pharmaceutical and food products.

According to recent surveys by the Pew Internet Trust, some 80 percent of Americans have used the Internet to find health information, especially those facing diseases or conditions. As of January 2008, the Internet rivaled physicians as the leading source for health information (iCrossing 2008). In addition, social media is rapidly becoming one of the top ways to gather information. As only 10 percent of consumers currently look to pharmaceutical companies for information, Academic Network saw a potential to connect the two and provide social media outlets for consumers through its pharmaceutical clients.

"The Internet has surpassed even doctors as a main source for consumers to gather health information, and people trust other people to reflect reality where health is concerned," said Kate McCarron, chief executive officer, Academic Network. "We believe that our health and medical expertise, in conjunction with a social media practice, can better integrate patient care with today's communications best-practices; improving patient compliance with their therapies, engaging with consumers when they're most motivated to learn, and providing safe, moderated discussions to share experiences."

When one of the largest pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare companies planned to launch a new over-the-counter product, it called Academic Network. A team of scientific experts in nutrition, nephrology, physiology, biostatistics and informatics compiled a 45 member team of multilingual call center nurses, dietitians and professionals to answer questions on this new drug via a health call center, email and message boards.

Academic Network also has monitored, captured and reported Adverse Events (AEs) and Severe Adverse Events (SAEs) on one of the first sponsored blogs for the drug. Participants log into a secure site and can connect with other users, giving them a safe environment to share stories, advice and get support from other participants. Even in the safety of such secure sites, the need for monitoring, management and AE capture and reports is critical. With people sharing their medical and health experiences online, pharmaceutical companies must consider whether to gather information on AEs and SAEs online - especially on sites they sponsor.

Because not everyone who experiences adverse events contacts the pharmaceutical company, this practice provides Academic Network with a way to gather additional information about people's experiences with the drug and provide its client with accurate reporting.
Academic Network provides trained healthcare representatives who have medical knowledge and experience and are dedicated to identifying consumer complaints and AEs in addition to a complete understanding of federal and state guidelines for consumer safety.

"Traditional means of monitoring AEs are critical, but we can't stop the flow of people moving their conversations online," said McCarron. "By monitoring forums where participants are able to speak freely with one another, we can report more accurately on customer experiences and provide better information to our clients."

Food and beverage industries, clinical research organizations, biotechnology, nutriceutical and pharmaceutical industries as well as public relations firms seek Academic Network's healthcare communication expertise. The term "one stop" clearly applies to Academic Network, whose staff excels at:

  •     call center solutions
  •     medical/health consulting
  •     clinical trial recruitment and retention
  •     consumer affairs for direct to consumer campaigns
  •     adverse event reporting
  •     consumer/professional health education
  •     blog, social media and web development
  •     fulfillment and technical writing
  •     assistance in creating scientific materials for publication and online communities

About Academic Network, LLC:
Academic Network, LLC is a leading medical and health communications company conceived by academic professionals to serve as a singular source for communicating health-related issues to consumers and health professionals. Academic Network works with leading pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other Fortune 500 companies, as well as healthcare organizations, in developing effective communications strategies through consulting, telecommunications, Internet and other emerging media sources. The firm offers the combined technological and medical expertise necessary to meet the demands and expectations of today's health-focused public. Visit the Academic Network website at http://www.academicnetwork.com.

For more information, contact:
Claudia Johnson
Claudia @ claudiajohnson.com
503.266.1776

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