Interview with Albert van der Zeijden

Written by: Fleming. Team

Is social media changing the doctor – patient relationship?

At the moment, we do not see much change in the doctor – patient relationship through the use of social media. One reason may be that doctors do not have interest in it as long as there is no payment for time spent on social media. If it could play a role in enhancing communication between doctors and patients, it could be of importance. It could also be an accessible tool for patients to exchange information with other patients and to get reassurance in cases of mild health concerns.

How can we make communication between doctors and patients more effective?

The key is the decision making process, where patients need information and time for questions. This will be different for each patient as not all patients are on the same literacy level and the first consultation differs from follow-up consultations. Doctors have to listen to patients and patients have to be better prepared. The package leaflet could be used as a decision making aid if used in the consultation room. Currently, the patient gets the PL after the decision is made, which is too late. Also, here time is money and doctors should get remuneration for communication.

How can a better understanding be reached between the Pharma company and the customer?

The possibilities for a Pharma company to communicate directly with customers are very limited by legislation within the EU. Pharma companies cannot start practising their visions. Customers are again and again confronted with companies not living up to their own standards. Patient support programmes should be clearly informative and not promotional, which is not always the case. The relationship between patient organisations and companies must always be very transparent and it must be clear that financial support comes without influencing the policies of the P.O. This is particularly important if the members of the P.O. are patients who are potential users of a company's products.