Social media users are also discussing vaccine and treatment trials underway worldwide, of which there are nearly 1,6002 . Those related to anti-malarial and anti-viral drugs are mentioned most often. As these trials progress and vaccines are introduced for approval in the coming months, social media intelligence can uncover anecdotal feedback “on the ground” from investigators and trial participants alike, eventually providing pharma companies with critical insight about vaccine availability, insurance coverage, experiences and side effects. Brand managers can further use this insight to track the sentiment, patient experiences, and access issues reported by patients on social media to mitigate risks in a timely manner.
Spill Over into other Disease States
Unfortunately, at the rate in which COVID-19 has consumed our society’s healthcare resources, patients of other diseases have been adversely impacted. Other conditions mentioned in the context of COVID-19 are cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, heart diseases, auto-immune diseases, and hypertension.
Patients often mention concerns over seeking treatment for other conditions. For instance, pregnant women and new mothers express difficulties in getting information/advice that they would expect under normal conditions. Patients who are required to travel across states for in-person HCP consultations/treatment sessions are risking gaps in receiving treatment. Cancer patients are experiencing appointment cancellations, given they are immuno-compromised. This has caused disruptions in current treatment or delays in initiating new treatments. A report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science substantiates this with specifics on changes in the volume of physician visits for cancer patients.
Similarly, physicians are being spread thin as they care for infected patients. They report fear of infection, fear and guilt of putting other patients at risk, and deteriorating quality of life due to extended work hours, exhaustion, stress, insomnia, anxiety, and emotional burnout. Manufacturers should pursue further research to understand how the demands on physicians are impacting their ability to treat patients in other disease areas.
In select therapy areas, such as RA/Lupus, patients expressed concerns about the shortage of certain biologics (e.g. Actemra), given they are being used to treat COVID-19 patients as well. This suggests the need for manufacturers to examine possible shortages by geographic region and address any real supply chain issues.
Mental health patients express a number of concerns, including loneliness, anxiety, insomnia, depression, loss of freedom, dislike of social distancing, weight gain and limited exercise opportunities. Similarly, caregivers are concerned for those left in isolation. Follow-up research might investigate any changes in the symptoms of the mentally ill and any changes in substance abuse.
Analyzing social conversations on COVID-19 can be a powerful tool in furthering COVID-19 research, mobilizing healthcare resources to support patients, and informing healthcare initiatives in all disease areas. The findings presented here are just the beginning of what can be gleaned from Social Media Intelligence.
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1 Source for all social media mentions is IQVIA’s Social Media Intelligence, powered by Brandwatch.
2 ClinicalTrials.gov database