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This week, I returned from another trip to Haiti – and this time, I was privileged to be part of a medical team going out to (mostly) rural areas to treat people who rarely see a doctor.

My role was to help with pharmacy, provide muscle, and work on logistics. And take a lot of pictures, of course. Once again, it was quite a learning experience.

Some things are better seen than told, so here is a (captioned) photo set on Flickr of the trip, including a few brief video snippets. Enjoy!

From someone immersed in the pharma/healthcare world, here a few brief observations:

  1. The people – especially nurses and doctors – who provide care for all of us, and especially those in very needy lands, deserve our highest respect. I was in awe watching my team members in action.
  2. Azithromycin and Erythromycin are not the same. I got a taste of the care needed to prevent prescription errors. In a fast-moving situation with language translation also involved, this was challenging at times.
  3. Rural, developing-world medicine faces different issues than we normally think about. Worms. Scabies. Infections. Lack of history and/or context. Bad water. Basic hygiene.
  4. The need in Haiti is vaster than can be described. In my two trips there, I’ve only seen a sliver of the island. You can’t feel useless there.
  5. Cultural differences can be complex. But smiles and love are universally understood.

Will I go back? Most likely. It’s a rare privilege to be able to do this – your support of my work here at Impactiviti actually provides me with the freedom to do outreach in Haiti, and to bring back awareness of the needs of our neighbors in the Caribbean. Thanks for all of your encouragement during these endeavors!

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

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For years, I’ve advocated that healthcare companies gain a clear picture of the opportunities (and potential problems) presented by social networks. It’s a somewhat complicated and very fast-moving world – how does a pharmaceutical company, or a healthcare agency, get started on the right foot?

Here are three key perspectives. Start here!

1. Start small, but with a strategic, long-term plan. Don’t be “that guy”!

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2. Don’t treat social media as its own topic. It is part of a holistic business strategy.

Social Media is not a Strategy

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3. Realize that you’re not dealing with an isolated trend, or a marketing fad. Digitally-fueled networked communications is The New Normal.

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There are many particulars to learn about how social networks are impacting the healthcare space, but the most important thing you can possibly do is begin with the correct perspectives. When you understand how and why the landscape is being re-shaped by networked communications, then all the details about tools and platforms begin to line up.

One perspective to bear in mind – the usage of social networks is exploding. Check out this real-time updating table to see! And – what percentage of pharma professionals use/plan to use social media in 2011? Answer here.

Of course, everyone is (or should be) interested in current examples of how social media is used in healthcare. The absolute best resource for this is at Jonathan Richman’s Dose of Digital blog – the Pharma and Healthcare Social Media Wiki. Explore!

Roche is a leader in articulating and publishing common sense social media guidelines for its employees.

PLUS – here are some blog posts providing helpful analysis:

Social Media is NOT for Advertising Pharma Brands – Jon Richman

The Beginner’s Guide to Pharma Social Media – Jon Richman

10 Things I’d Like to Start Hearing about Pharma Social Media – Jon Richman

The Rise of the ePatient – Steve Woodruff

But Are We Communicating? – Steve Woodruff

Oh – and about those reportable adverse events

Want more? OK – Just scroll through my Impactiviti SocialRx page.

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Will the Feds soon decide on drugs based on cost/effectiveness calculations? “They claim that they don’t want this to morph into a British-style agency that restricts access to medical products based on narrow cost criteria, but provisions tucked into the fiscal stimulus bill betray their real intentions…”

Teva and Lonza team up to go after biosimilar drug market. The two companies said on Tuesday they had formed a strategic partnership to become a leading global provider of biosimilars, or generic versions of biotechnology drugs.

A list of some promising new drug candidates for 2009, from the Pharma’s Cutting Edge blog. Some interesting stuff in the various pipelines…

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Impactiviti is a pharma consultancy focused on helping pharma/biotech/medical devices companies identify optimal vendors for training/marketing needs.

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