FOAM is the concept, #FOAMed is the Twitter hashtag.
Mike describes FOAM thus:
FOAM is the movement that has spontaneously emerged from the exploding collection of constantly evolving, collaborative and interactive open access medical education resources being distributed on the web with one objective — to make the world a better place. FOAM is independent of platform or media — it includes blogs, podcasts, tweets, Google hangouts, online videos, text documents, photographs, facebook groups, and a whole lot more.
I expect you can see where I’m going with this, but let’s not neglect an opportunity to over-explain an idea.
Here’s the thing:
- Pharma’s use of social technologies as a means of connecting and communicating with patients has stalled. To be honest, for most companies it never even really got started as a methodology that was understood, owned, and employed across organisational structures. With the industry overall in such a lamentably siloed condition and seemingly incapable of reforming itself, I don’t consider it unreasonable to suggest that it is never likely to be adopted universally.
- Pharma’s use of social platforms as a method of disseminating information about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options of diseases in an approvable, non-promotional way has yet to emerge. The idea of it becoming an industry norm remains in the realms of fantasy.
- Pharma continues to overlook the utility of social technologies to redesign the nature of the industry’s interactions with patients and professionals. Every day, the industry is wasting innumerable opportunities to raise awareness of and build trust in its work, and to manifest its authority as the definitive source of discoverable, relevant, reliable, patient-focused, outcomes-oriented information about the products it produces. Not only (in my opinion) does the industry have a moral and ethical responsibility to do this, it would also seem to be the most obvious way in which pharma could demonstrate its commitment to doing social good by and through its work.
Whilst pockets of innovation have become established across the industry in different geographies, isolated campaigns and activities have a tendency not to trigger significant change within parent companies, and as a consequence do not always receive the acknowledgment they deserve.
Raising the profile of work that moves the industry away from a focus on direct influence through promotion and towards indirect influence through the provision of high-quality health information and conversation could help affect wider change.
So, here’s the suggestion:
Whenever you publish or discover and share any pharma-produced medical educational material, add the #PHOAMed hashtag to your post.
In order to merit being #PHOAMed, the material should be:
- non-promotional — i.e. unbranded, though the company’s logo is obviously fine. In fact, it is essential for verification purposes
- accessible — i.e. not behind a data-scrape, and available in full at no cost.
I’m looking for pharma partners to carry the #PHOAMed concept forward as a properly curated and promoted suite of web and social presences.
If you work in pharma company and are interested in your company being part of a panel of sponsors of this initiative, please get in touch.