If we tweeted every customer enquiry for 24 hours from a medical information department, like Greater Manchester Police did, what would it look like? Would it help prove our value? Reveal the depth and complexity of our work? Raise the profile of the pharmaceutical industry? In 24 hours, the police gained 19,000 followers.

One day in October 2010, a UK regional police force who decided to tweet about all the calls and crime cases they got over in 24 hours. Check out Greater Manchester Police

Without revealing any personal information, they streamed every case or call they received. Everything. Serious crime and daft questions. Murders, rapes, assaults and burglaries. We know the police deal with those crimes so it’s no surprise that they feature in their crime cases.

But what about the other 80-90%? Here’s part of the feed from one policeman.

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It shows this policeman/woman dealt with a range of cases.

Why bother?

They are trying to prove their worth, ahead of the 25% budget cuts. They want the public to appreciate the complexity of their job. It also opens the debate about the role of the police, what they should focus on and how they can achieve that within their budget.

Does that sound very familiar?

So how is it relevant to us?

This is a great example of use of social media. It drew so much interest (19,000 followers in one day) that someone set up a spoof Twitter stream (see below) that was so clever it fooled me for a few hours! Informative, slightly amusing (in an ironic way) without detracting from the seriousness of someone wanting to report something or ask a question. I’m sure many of us who have taken 1000s of calls from customers, including some dumb questions that turned out to be totally valid. These dumb questions often revealed an unresolved problem and gave us valuable insight. And anyone who deals with the general public knows that developing a sense of humour with compassion and warmth is an essential survival strategy.

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So what would a Med Info twitterstream look like (without being promotional)?

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with no medicine names mentioned, would this be promotional? Add your comments with your views.

Impact

If we want to publicise the depth and complexity of our role, it’s a great way to do it.

It would show how our industry acts responsibly, ethically and scientifically to meet society’s needs for effective medicines. A counter-offensive to accusations of unethical marketing and influence over prescribers.

With an estimate of one million enquiries handled by the pharmaceutical industry in one year (PIPA Benchmarking Project, 2010), one day could uncover over 2700 enquiries.

Some Twitter feed!