In the complex realm of  healthcare, someone deemed an “influencer” when it comes to, say, breast cancer can have minimal sway when it comes to another ailment. This is, in part, why inVentiv Health partnered with influence analytics company Appinions to develop a Health Influence Index.

“We extract and aggregate what people are saying, thinking and feeling from over 6 million sources - news, blogs, transcripts, forums, discussion boards, social media,” says Ritesh Patel, global head of inVentiv Digital + Innovation. Its first published index looks at influencers on diabetes.

[caption id="attachment_1534" align="alignright" width="150"]Ritesh Patel Ritesh Patel[/caption]

Within each disease segment, the index calculates individual influence scores based on 1) how others respond to an influencer’s opinion on the topic; 2) the credibility of the outlet where the reaction occurs; 3) the volume of opinions attributed to an influencer over the last 60 days.

The influencers are segmented as non-pharma organizations, non-media influencers, pharma companies and medical professionals. For instance, when it comes to diabetes, non-pharma influencers tend to carry the most clout, followed by non-medical influencers, pharma companies, and lastly, medical professionals.

“When a patient has an active role in choosing their treatment or drug, the pharma companies have more prominence,” Patel points out. He also says, even though more people are diagnosed with diabetes than cancer, the latter generates more “influential conversations.”

The research has also shown, for instance, when it comes to multiple sclerosis about 80% of the conversation from pharma companies is focused on business performance.

“There’s a missed opportunity,” Patel says.

The index takes into account the “Angelina Jolie” effect -- or the halo effect of having a public figure turn their experience with a disease into an awareness push. The index, however, can follow whether a celebrity continues to hold influence beyond their specific disease.

InVentiv plans to publish new indexes approximately once per quarter. Its technology is built on Appinion’s software that comes from a decade of research at Cornell University.