Following Up With Steve Woodruff of Impactiviti

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This post wraps up our week-long discussion around the topic “What Would the Government Regulate?”

By Jason Brandt (@Jasondmg3)

Last month, Pixels & Pills’ Jennifer Abelson interviewed Steve Woodruff of Impactiviti at the ePharma Summit.

Apart from how utterly TV-presenter smooth both of their voices are – we’re lucky they got into pharma before they were snapped up by the voiceover industry! – there’s some interesting stuff here to hear. The main thing is: don’t get bogged down by specifics.

This is Steve’s succinct and wise advice to the FDA in their assembling (we hope) of guidance for the industry. It’s a sentiment that has been reflected by others, including Johnson & Johnson’s Marc Monseau in discussing his creation of social media guidance internally for J&J employees.

If regulations attempt to cover each available technology, platform, interface and service by name, they’re setting themselves up to fail. Not only will they create an unreadably enormous set of rules that nobody will read, but they’ll be rules that will be instantly out of date.

Consider: neither Facebook nor Twitter were even available until 2006. But it took them two or three years each to hit their tipping point. If you were writing a guidance document in 2008, would you have included Twitter as an extremely important outlet? Probably not.

So if you’re sitting there today trying to outline the state of social media, you’re missing the next big thing. I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you that you are. We all are.

Social media is a moving target. It’s herding cats. It’s whatever metaphor you want for something that is constantly evolving.

And what we need to tell you here is that Steve’s advice for the FDA should be advice that you take to heart for yourself. Do not get bogged down on a specific technology. Today’s iPhone app or Twitter client or Kindle download will not be what you’re scrambling to tomorrow. So stop scrambling. There are specific technology experts whose job it is to know the nuts and bolts of how all of these things work.

Your job is both easier and harder. Your job is to know your patients, your therapeutic areas, your diseases and your drugs. Your job is to build the bridge between the technology and the user – a bridge that works, that is beautiful, but most of all, a bridge that gets them where they need to go. Never lose sight of that in the glare of the shiny new tech.

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