ASMI leads on Social Media Guidelines for the Consumer Healthcare Industry

14 November 2013

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14 November 2013 - In a first for the consumer healthcare industry, peak industry body the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) will launch industry guidelines on social media at its annual conference today in Sydney.
The guidelines address the way that content around non-prescription medicines should be managed in the social media space, while ensuring professional, ethical and regulatory obligations are met.

"The Australian consumer healthcare industry has been quite cautious in engaging with social media, mainly due to the highly complex regulated environment of health communication and uncertainty of obligations around managing online content - whether owned, earned or paid - for therapeutic goods," said Filomena Maiese, ASMI Marketing & Business Development Director.

"It's expected that ASMI's new guidelines will provide organisations with more certainty in this space, increasing their confidence in connecting brands and health information with social media audiences in a compliant and responsible manner."
Ms Maiese highlighted that social media and online information have become increasingly important in patient care and consumer decision-making, with 80 per cent of people going online first for health information.1

"Currently, we know that three in five Australians use social media, some more than five times a day, and that Australia has one of highest smartphone and tablet penetration rates worldwide.2,3 This means Australians are literally walking around with an abundant amount of health information in their pockets, ready to be accessed through multiple social media networks at any time," she said.

"Coupled with this, we know the significant role that 'word of mouth' plays in the consumer healthcare space in influencing purchase decisions. Combine the growth of the internet as an information source with the importance of word of mouth in the consumer health space and you can understand why and how social media is playing an increasingly significant role."

From Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to forums, blogs and discussion boards, social media is changing the nature and speed at which consumers and healthcare organisations interact. Through these online communities, consumers can ask questions, express concerns or share information about their health, often receiving an immediate response.

"Health conversations are happening 24/7 in the social media space," Ms Maiese continued. "The challenge for any health organisation is to embrace this trend and understand how to manage online channels responsibly to ensure consumers get access to accurate and reliable information."

To help develop the guidelines, ASMI worked with communication agency Weber Shandwick, which provided its expertise in healthcare and digital to create a set of practical guidelines based on real-world experience of working across both disciplines.

According to Jye Smith, Vice President - Digital, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick: "Social media has changed communications and it is critical that the healthcare sector is responsive to this change: where the demand for information is high, and patients are sharing experiences and asking questions more than ever before."

ASMI's Industry Social Media Guidelines are available to download at www.asmi.com.au.
They are intended as a broad industry guide only and do not replace or alter an organisation's obligations under any relevant code of conduct, regulation or legislation.
Organisations are reminded of their obligations under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, the Therapeutic Goods Act and the Australian Consumer Law. In addition, ASMI members are reminded of their obligations under the ASMI Code of Practice.
-ENDS-

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy. www.asmi.com.au
About Weber Shandwick: Weber Shandwick is one of Australia's leading public relations agencies, providing communications counsel and support to some of the most recognised brands in the country, including those within the healthcare industry and digital space. www.webershandwick.com.au

References:
1. Fran Molloy. When most Australians get their health info online, usability matters ehealthspace.org. 23 September 2013. Available at http://bit.ly/1gZvcFo.
2. SensisĀ®. Yellow Social Media Report: What Australian people and businesses are doing with social media. May 2013. Developed in association with the Australian Interactive Media Association (AIMIA).
3. Deloitte Australia. Vox Populi: State of the Media Democracy Survey: Australia's media usage and preferences 2012. Available at http://bit.ly/XuSSHR.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Michelle Sollitt-Davis
PR Manager
Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0422 084 951 E: michelle@asmi.com.au