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MSWatch.ca makes a comeback: Now within Canadian Rx-DTC guidelines

Last month, I posted an article about the removal of the MSWatch.ca online forums. Many people around the world responded to me stating that they felt it was the MS patients who had lost the most from this changed website. I agreed.

On Monday November 15 2010, I was delighted to receive another e-mail from MSWatch.ca, this time welcoming me to the new MSWatch Oasis:

Tell your friends: Twitter Facebook MySpace Digg StumbleUpon Delicious
There’s a place that we go to for comfort after a long day, where can help find some relieft and peace. It could be your favorite part of the couch, the smell of fresh baked cookies or a phone call with a loved one. Whenever you’re there, it’s as if you’re transported away. 

Today we’re exited to announce that there’s something new on MSWatch, a place where you can help build a world of understanding and support for the MS community.

Introducing your MSWatch Oasis

Keep track of your treatments and help manage your appointments in a fun and engaging way.
Perch in the tree where you can find resources in the birdhouses and check in on fellow Oasis members.
Chirp others in the tree and check in on your buddies.
Earn badges just by keeping up with appointmens and therapy.
Update your profile to connect with others in the MS community. Add links to your Facebook, Twitter, blog and website.
Join in to help manage your treatments, connect with other patients and caregivers, and access learning resources and helpful tools. Help build a world of understand and support. 

Visit the MSWatch Oasis

So I decided to take a look at their new site.  I was able to sign in with my username and password from the original MSWatch.ca online forums.  After I logged on, I had the opportunity to let the community members know how I was feeling by selecting one of several pre-written statements.  This protects the pharma company from statements that could suggest an adverse event or one that could fall outside of Rx-DTC guidelines:

Then, I was prompted to update my personal profile.  As part of the profile, I could include my blog website, Twitter username, and FaceBook page.  This is a very interesting feature because it allows members of the community to meet each other on the MSWatch Oasis and then take their conversation onto their personal networks, where they are free to discuss all aspects of their disease and treatment.  Justin Seiler, Electronic Media (Marketing) Associate at Teva Canada Innovation, told me that MSWatch wanted to act as a ‘hub’ for their MS members.  That way, they are facilitating networking amongst the members, yet forcing them to go on third party sites.  As such, Teva Canada Innovation does not hold any responsibility of the discussions held off their site.

Although direct communications between members do not occur onsite, you can see which community member is in the “Oasis”.  In fact, you can click on the person’s username to gain access to a limited portion of their personal information, including hyperlinks to their websites, Twitter and FaceBook profiles (assuming the member has updated their profile with this information):

Another very useful tool consists of the calendar which allows patients to input their treatment days as well as their appointments.  And as you can see in the pic below, community members can also ‘label’ themselves with a particular type of bird.  This is a great way to start a conversion with other community members (offsite, of course).

Although I did not find this on the site itself, I did find it as part of the ‘tour’ of the website:  badges.  It appears as though community members can earn different badges depending on what they actually do on the site.  Unfortunately, I was not able to see the range and meaning of the different badges.

Going through the website, everything looks to be within Canadian pharmaceutical promotional guidelines, including Rx-DTC (where we are only allowed to mention product name, price and quantity).  Brands mentioned under treatment options include all of the players within this category, including a link to their individual support groups.

Congratulations to Teva Canada Innovation for not giving up, and for finding a way to allow MS patients to continue to share with one another while staying within the Canadian Rx-DTC guidelines.  By maintaining the ability to help the MS patients network with one another, Teva Canada Innovation continues to achieve its strategic objective.  This is a valuable service for MS patients and I look forward to watching it grow quickly (as did the original MSWatch.ca online forums).  You have proven yourself to be a social media leader within the Canadian pharma industry!

The agency that worked on the look and feel of the MSWatch Oasis is Twist Image. This is the agency that was also involved in the redesign of MSWatch.ca that took place in 2009.

Do you think the MSWatch Oasis is an effective social networking tools for MS patients?  Why or why not?

Stay in touch,
Natalie

Connect with me on the following networks:
FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn

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2 Responses

  1. I love the design – beautiful concept!

    Are members able to PM each other directly via the site, or do they need to contact each other via Twitter/FB, etc?

    I’ll be curious to know if the site thrives without public forums.

    • I agree. The ‘bird’ design and theme are carried out nicely through both the copy and the visuals. As for your question, I’m not sure. You can “chirp” somebody, but I’m not sure what that does. The agency that worked on this was Twist Image, which was recently awarded as a Top 10 Agency of The Year by Marketing Magazine.

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