Bringing Medical Meetings to Everyone via Social Media

For decades, medical meetings have been a place for doctors, patients, researchers and advocates to engage with each other and share information about the latest advances in treatments and science.

That engagement level has exploded over the last few years, however, with the rise of social media. Now, attendees can talk not only to others in the meeting hall but also in every corner of the globe.

Social media takes medical meetings beyond the convention center walls to provide a real-time yet enduring story of patient experiences, scientific breakthroughs and inspirational speakers. It opens the meetings up to anyone, whether they have a deep or passing interest in all or any of the subjects being discussed, while democratizing the sharing of information.

Journalists can report in real time. Attendees can take notes in a public way. And anyone with access to the Internet can get in on the conversation.

That’s good for patients. That’s good for health care providers. And that’s good for companies like AstraZeneca that value learning from those who are facing diseases for which we are fiercely working to development new and more effective treatments.

How important has social media grown to become at medical meetings? Consider: The 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting saw 4,352 different people tweet 21,861 times using the #ASCO13 hashtag throughout the year. Two years later, the #ASCO15 meeting was mentioned in 81,273 tweets from 16,664 people – a nearly four-fold increase.

And it’s not just ASCO. The American Heart Association’s annual meeting saw a four-fold increase in Twitter activity between 2013 (#AHA2013) and 2015 (#AHA2015) as well, according to the analytics firm Symplur. Similar increases were seen at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) scientific sessions.

AstraZeneca once again will participate in major meetings in our therapeutic areas this year, including ASCO, AHA, ACC, ADA and several others. In addition to our live presence at the meetings, we hope to accomplish the following through our social engagement:

  • Conduct live, authentic dialogue with those in attendance as well as those following along virtually.
  • Share our messages and resources with an informed, engaged audience.
  • Continue conversations begun face to face in the meeting halls.
  • Glean key areas of focus of those affected by the diseases being studied to better inform our efforts as a company.

It is increasingly crucial for all players in healthcare to be engaged in social media, as more and more Americans use these platforms:

  • Overall, 62 percent of adults in the United States use Facebook, while 22 percent use LinkedIn and 20 percent use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • One in 20 Google searches seek health-related information, according to Google.
  • Meanwhile, 41 percent in one survey said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
  • Finally, 32 percent of insured Americans say they are uncomfortable with their personal knowledge and skills navigating the healthcare system – higher than those who are uncomfortable buying a home (25 percent).

Taken together, this means that all segments of the health system have a responsibility to have a social presence that provides accurate and scientifically sound information to patients who are increasingly turning to the Internet and social media for information. That includes information from providers, payers, patient groups and companies like AstraZeneca.

You can follow AstraZeneca in the U.S. on Twitter here and like us on Facebook here to see firsthand how we are engaging via social media.

Meanwhile, we will see you at the meetings – and online!