Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly recognizing that patients’ social media posts are a valuable source of insight into patient-reported outcomes, views, symptoms, use of competitive products and more. Analyzing social media posts has the potential to provide insights from a broad population of patients, healthcare professionals, and key opinion leaders.
The standard methodology to gather these insights is primary market research. Pharma companies work hard to establish and maintain focus groups for live interviews, questionnaires and other ways to gather insights from patients and providers. However, the research process is time-consuming and expensive, requiring pharma companies to invest a significant amount of resources; and the number of patients that can be targeted is small.
Analysis of social media has the potential to be more efficient, more cost-effective, and address much larger patient populations than primary market research. The problem in analyzing social media content, however, is that social platforms represent a constantly flowing firehose of noisy information, so separating the signal from the noise poses a significant challenge.
Text mining with Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology represents an alternative approach to unlocking the value of social media content. By enabling artificial intelligence-based NLP tools to gather and analyze social data, pharmaceutical companies can more swiftly and efficiently glean insights that will influence the drug development process.