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M-08: Utilization, Assessment, and Return-on-Investment of Drug Information (DI) Websites in the US Pharmaceutical Industry

Poster Presenter

      Christian Vogt

      • PharmD Student
      • Husson University School of Pharmacy
        United States


To study how US-based pharma DI departments (DIDs) are adapting to customers who increasingly prefer 24/7 access to DI via digital channels; evaluating the use of their digital content; measuring the ROI of their websites; and future plans for leveraging technologies to meet customer preferences.



A Google Forms survey was developed then vetted by two pharma DI directors. Survey invitations were sent on 11/15/17 via PhactMI and the MedComm Community’s DIA and LinkedIn websites. The invitation included a link to the survey and requested for 1 response per DID. The study will close 12/31/17.


To date, 13 traditional pharma companies with branded products and 6 biotech companies have responded to the survey. Of these, 15 have “For Health Professionals” (FHP) websites that can be accessed from a tab on the company home page and/or from product websites. Three FHP sites could only be found by “googling” them. Eight sites allow access following a disclaimer and affirmation that the user is a US healthcare professional (HCP). Seven FHP sites require registration; one first verifies the registrant’s credentials before allowing access. Despite the disclaimer, 6 respondents noted that the site can be accessed by HCPs outside of the US. The DID web area is component of the FHP site. Most DIDs respondents (14/15) offer a searchable database of standard response letters (SLRs). All DIDs offer a DI request form to submit questions (15/15); other options include a callback (11/15), an online chat (6/15), or a videoconference (2/15). Off label-information is provided via a searchable database of SRLs (13/15), a form to submit drug information queries (13/15), callback options (11/15), online chat (5/15), video conference (3/15). Four DIDs have a presence Facebook (3/4), Twitter (4/4), LinkedIn (2/4), and YouTube (1/4); 0/4 respond to DI queries in this medium. Twelve of 15 DIDs make their DI content digital-friendly using hyperlinks to package inserts (4/12), PubMed abstracts (4/12), and treatment guidelines (1/12). One respondent noted that some of their DI responses include “’talking graphics” to help explain the mechanism drug/biologic action. Use of digital content affect total inquiry volume by ±10%, but others reasons offered include product launches, warnings, and recalls. DIDs assess usage of their site by reviewing standard website metrics, e.g., # of clicks, # page views, and # repeat visits. One respondent looks at the specific content viewed and/or downloaded. Two respondents also measure ROI, one noting a “dollars per response served."


Most DIDs offer 24/7 digital access to DI through a FHP web site accessed via a tab on the company home page after affirming they are a US-based HCP. A few FHP sites could only be by “googling.” Some FHP sites require registration; a few still verify credentials before allowing access. Both are significant and unnecessary barriers. Also, consider that technology can insert country-specific regulatory language around core, technical DI content based on where the HCP practices. After =3 clicks, HCPs arrive at the DID part of the FHP web site. DIDs offer HCPs similar methods to get DI, but vary in the channels used to respond. Most have a database of SLRs where off-label information can be retrieved based on the HCP’s de novo input of search terms (take care to associate enough key words to SLRs). Best practices to make SLRs digital-friendly include providing links to the package insert, PubMed abstracts, and guidelines. Some DIDs offer online chats that can involve off-label uses of drugs. A few DIDs are exploring the use of social media platforms. DIDs use standard website reports, e.g., clicks, page views, pieced of unique content viewed, and repeat visits to assess site usage. Others look at the specific content viewed and/or downloaded. Respondents noted that the 24/7 availability of digital content affected total inquiry volume by ±10%. How they monitor and adjust to customer channel preferences over time is unclear. Several companies are considering ROI measures such as “dollars per response.” Other possibilities include measuring the impact of customer self-service on contact center headcount, redistribution of excess headcount to other areas, and decreased costs associated with vendor use. DIDs should reduce barriers to access, ensure digital-friendly and mobile-compatible content, and use more robust analytics to better understand shifting customer preferences for channels and content to in order to optimize the reach and business impact of the department.