Despite Perceiving Current Risks as Outweighing Benefit, Nearly 80% of The Pharmaceutical and Device Industry Plans to Allocate More Marketing Budget to Social Media in 2013

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Inaugural Executive Landscape Study Published by the Digital Health Coalition.

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"The only way we are going to be able to move the industry forward is through sharing best practices and practical solutions"

At this week’s eXL Digital Pharma East conference, the Digital Health Coalition – a non-profit industry think tank focused on facilitating innovation in healthcare – hosted more than 100 members of the healthcare industry, including patient advocates and representatives from the FDA, for an afternoon summit to share, educate and discuss current trends facing the industry in social media and mobile media. As part of the event, the Digital Health Coalition released summary findings of the DHC 2012 Executive Landscape Study.

“With 100% of pharma reporting they are either somewhat or very far behind in social media, the only way we are going to be able to move the industry forward is through sharing best practices and practical solutions,” said Joe Farris, co-founder of the Digital Health Coalition, “and as we heard this week, patients are growing impatient with pharma companies choosing not to participate in social media.”

Some of the key findings from the October 2012 member survey, “Voice of The DHC Membership,” conducted among 61 members of the Digital Health Coalition:

  •     The median budget allocation to digital (out of total marketing budget) in 2012 is 15%; with 20% (median) expected in 2013.
  •     The biggest budget increase is expected for content for tablets, content for smartphones, and social media initiatives for consumers.
  •     Search has the highest level of perceived ROI, including paid search, search marketing, and search engine optimization.
  •     Eighty-one percent of executives surveyed stated they are very far behind and 19% stated they are slightly behind in social media when compared to other industries.
  •     The vast majority of executives agree social media provides better insight into customers – the primary motivation to engage in social today.
  •     The majority of respondents agree pharma/device has an ethical responsibility to correct misinformation online in social media.
  •     However, almost 1/2 of respondents state the risks of social (legal and regulatory) outweigh the benefits of participation today.
  •     Fully 85% agree that regulated healthcare companies should not be held responsible for comments made by online users (with no relationship or connection to the company) on third-party social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
  •     Specific to platforms, companies report the highest level of sophistication with Facebook and YouTube – the least with Pinterest.
  •     The primary hurdle to adoption of social media is "measuring ROI" followed by regulatory then legal.
  •     Nearly all pharmaceutical and medical device companies agree that participating in social media benefits public health.
  •     Over 80% agree the lack of guidance from the FDA has limited their ability to put forth innovative programs in social media.
  •     The industry is more optimistic about mobile than social media: only 69% feel the industry is behind (25% very far behind and 44% slightly behind).
  •     Fifty-five percent agree that mobile is the future of pharmaceutical and medical device advertising.

About the Digital Health Coalition

The Digital Health Coalition, a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status, was created to serve as the collective public voice and national public forum for the discussion of the current and future issues relevant to digital and electronic marketing of healthcare products and services. The Digital Health Coalition’s vision is to identify and then recommend specific actions that will inform digital healthcare communication and engagement for the benefit of the public at large. Further, the Coalition’s projects and position statements aim to educate the public through the distribution of informational materials that will be widely reported in the media and referred to in setting of state and national digital health communication standards. For more information visit the DHC online at

For more information about the Digital Health Coalition 2012 Executive Landscape Study please visit

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