Healthcare: Gov't drive to boost pharma digital skills

The Government is launching a nationwide initiative to help pharma companies work around strict comms regulations and use digital media more effectively.

The Year of Digital Business Growth is due to be launched in April by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and small business social networking site, Ecademy.

As part of the Government's wider drive to boost business growth, Ecademy has trained a number of digital coaches to provide companies with the skills to use social and digital media.

Karen Winterhalter, MD at Onyx Health and former EMEA MD at Burson-Marsteller and Weber Shandwick, has become the first UK digital coach for the pharma industry. She will work with pharma companies to help individuals and brand teams develop their online presence and overcome industry regulations.

In the highly regulated pharma environment, which has traditionally been closed and selective in its comms strategies, digital and social media have proved a challenge for many companies.

'While many pharma companies have embraced digital comms in the sales environment, few have taken advantage of social media and the opportunities they offer to brands, corporate reputation and internal comms,' said Winterhalter.

She added: 'There needs to be a change in mindset to enable companies to use social media rather than a change in the regulations ... Companies need to adopt an open, random and support approach that moves away from the traditional "tell-sell" way of communicating.'

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