How pharma companies are using social media to learn about drugs' affects on patients
In an attempt to gain more health information, United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has begun collecting data from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter that mention any of a company’s 1,000 different drugs.
In its partnership with United States-based informatics company Epidemico, the two found over six million Twitter mentions and more than 15 million Facebook hits. Epidemico assists GSK in filtering the data, getting rid of irrelevant posts and standardizing the language around complex drug names and medical conditions.
“People really are communicating a lot online on social media,” said Greg Powell, director of pharmacovigilance at GlaxoSmithKline. “There’s actually a wealth of information here that potentially hasn’t been tapped into until recently. The question is ‘If people are talking about our products, should we be listening to what they’re saying?’ The answer is ‘Of course’.”
GSK uses the information similar to the way it uses drug safety and usage data from other sources. In one instance, Facebook posts analyzed through this plan led to a recall of an over-the-counter drug in Australia that had a manufacturing defect.
However, there are times when social media helps reveal information pharmaceutical companies previously never had access to. For example, one company received data showing how people are abusing their drugs, while another has been tracking how well they’re communicating to their patents.
This information can’t be found anywhere else, and also helps companies make its drugs tougher to abuse.
In addition, the social media insights can be very helpful when comparing a drug’s benefits to adverse affects. Numbers show 29 percent of drug mentions the company has tracked on social media acknowledge the benefits patients received, while 16 percent investigate benefits around adverse affects. Meanwhile, 11 percent of postings compared the drug to other options of treatment.
While GSK has used social media data for postmarket research, American pharmaceutical company Merck used the online patient network called PatientsLikeMe to do premarket research on Belsombra, which is a drug used to treat insomnia.
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What Merck discovered after examining data from the 90,000 insomnia patients on PatientsLikeMe was even patients who tell their doctor they’re satisfied with the sleep medication they’re taking often still have trouble sleeping. The benefits of existing drugs usually decline over time and people said the drugs help them get to sleep, but didn’t keep them from waking up in the middle of the night.
The value proposition for Belsomra addressed some of these problems. It was designed to work over the long term for chronic insomnia, and to help people sleep the whole night. Fitzgerald believes this type of data helped Merck to decide how best to market the drug.
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OMNI: First-ever platform to launch citizen RPA developers
Robotic process automation (RPA) is the fastest growing segment of the enterprise software market due to its many benefits - from reducing manual errors to processing tasks faster. For businesses to truly benefit from this technology, RPA needs democratisation, and this is where citizen RPA development comes in.
Gartner describes a citizen RPA developer as "a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.” This could be anyone using IT tools and technology, not limited to IT specialists.
The work citizen RPA developers do spans from identifying automation opportunities to developing RPA architecture and solution proposals, focusing on scalability and extensibility. By deploying citizen RPA developers, organisations can enable enterprise automation and digital transformation on a much larger scale.
This is particularly beneficial for businesses struggling to undertake digital transformation, as a citizen RPA development programme can help drive adoption of automation as a strategic growth driver at multiple levels. With increased adoption, the cost of digital transformation becomes lower, increasing RoI.
Technology needs to be democratised – right from low-code and no-code platforms, business process modelling and identifying automation opportunities to decision-makers at all levels, creating a pool of early adopters. This group could comprise people across different functions, especially those who are aware of customer preferences, industry trends and end user experience.
But how can organisations harness the power of citizen RPA development? Step forward AiRo Digital Labs, a Chicago-headquartered global tech company.
AiRo provides innovative digital and automation solutions for the healthcare, pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. In 2021 they launched OMNI, a subscription-based, SaaS platform to help clients accelerate their citizen RPA developer program and build digital centres of excellence (COE) within their organisation.
OMNI provides a personal RPA coach and virtual digital playground that helps enterprises rapidly build and scale automation, removing the risk of failure or talent gaps. The latter is key as research has shown that digitalisation is far more successful when championed by internal employees.
This has the added bonus of empowering employees - who will self-learn technologies including robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, and natural language processing (NLP), reducing the lead time for new applications and technology, as well as reducing technical gaps, making up for skills shortages and enabling their business to respond faster to critical market challenges. The virtual sandbox within OMNI gives access to all the major intelligent automation platforms where citizen RPA developers can build DIY digital prototypes. Additionally, they can access more than 150 digital assets within OMNI marketplace.
The platinum helpdesk of OMNI acts as your personal coach and is available 24 x 7 to address issues during the digital learning, prototype building, and digital governance journey.
Another key benefit is that it enables digitalisation to be bespoke to each organisation, compared to off-the-shelves initiatives plugged into the enterprise. Individual organisation's objectives decide the scope and size of the process.
As Gartner state, in today’s world of SaaS, cloud, low-code and “no-code” tools, everyone can be a developer.