COLUMN Report of Shiroma’s Presentation: Digital marketing solutions for disease awareness

On December 15th, 2023, Haruto Shiroma who is CEO of Mediwill talked in the webinar about digital marketing solutions for disease awareness.


Shiroma:First, I will introduce Mediwill’s history. We founded this company in 2006. Initially we started to deliver digital marketing solution in medicals industry, especially dental market. In 2014, we launched a medical information web media “Ishamachi” whose highest number of PV (Page View) was over 22 million PV per month. After that, we also developed “Ishamachi hospital search service” in 2018 and this service was selected by KIRIN Accelerator Program 2018*.

*KIRIN Accelerator Program is a project that companies selected and supported by Kirin Holdings try new business to create a healthy future.

Then we started to focus on one-stop digital marketing solutions for pharmaceutical companies, industry, and medical devices industry, especially to help promote digital marketing projects and solutions. Also, we are delivering marketing individual solutions such as digital strategy, digital advertising, SEO, website management, hospital search service and so on.

I will introduce case studies of Ishamachi hospital search services. For example, EA Pharma, Kyowa Kirin, Asahi Kasei Pharma, Asahi Kasei Pharma, Medicon and Kissei Pharmaceutical. I will explain those cases in detail after.

In October 2023, we launched “Ishamachi hospital Database”. This database is updated monthly, and you can download easily.

Designing Disease Awareness (DTC) for the Patient Journey on the Internet

In the next section, let me introduce how to design disease awareness (DTC) for the patient journey on the internet.

Firstly, this pie chart is based on a Japanese Ministry of internal affairs and communications survey. The question is very simple: “How to gather health and medical information?” And 76% of people answered “internet search.”

Let’s look into the search engine share (mobile) in Japan from January 2009 to December 2023. Nowadays we can see that Google’s share is 79.4% and Yahoo! is 18.8%. Basically, Yahoo!’s search engine is used by Google’s one, which means Google’s share is almost 100%. In the mobile market, it is very important for us to prepare for Google search engine optimizations.

This line chart shows the change of share of search engines (desktop) in Japan.
Google’s share is 71.4% and Yahoo! is 8.8%. It means Google has about 80% share. However, it is interesting that Bing is catching up and increasing recently. After COVID-19 pandemic, nowadays, Bing’s share is almost 20%. During COVID-19 pandemic, people tended to work from home and to use desktop computers. Also, there was the OpenAI issue recently, and Bing developed a kind of AI chat. So maybe it is one of the reasons that Bing is increasing the share.

This bar chart is based on Medicare Life survey 2019 and the question is very simple: What kind of information is important when you choose hospital? In comparison between 2014 and 2019, “Reviews of family and friends” and “Introduction from home doctor” are decreasing. While “Hospital HP” and “Hospital Search Service” are increasing. It means patients searching for hospitals to get information through the internet by themselves.
So, it is very important for hospitals to release information through the HP and hospital search services.

These tables are quoted from the date of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. There are about 100 medical department names and about 90 specialist qualifications. So, it is difficult for patients to find suitable hospitals to go to. It means that hospital search services which guide patients are important.

This chart shows concepts of how we think about and design disease awareness projects for the patient journey on the internet. There is a lot of “Gap” to increase consultation rates.
First gap is recognition. If you set up a website, you need to gather access from the internet. In that case, we can help you to provide SEO and digital advertising. Also, when users go to websites, these websites need to be designed to lead users to change behavior like a hospital search service, call center or something like that. Lastly, when you use hospital search services, we need to find out easy-to-use hospital search services.
There are 3 key points:

  1. Designing a disease awareness website that leads to behavior change utilizing a hospital search service.
  2. Increasing visitors to disease awareness websites.
  3. Selection of an easy-to-use hospital search service.

Customer Case Study

I will introduce our case studies in this section.

First one is Asahi Kasei Pharma: Osteoporosis disease awareness (DTC). It is said that there are more than 10 million osteoporosis patients in Japan, osteoporosis often has no subjective symptoms such as pain, and there are many cases where it is not noticed until the fracture is broken. To provide an opportunity for people who are not yet aware of the risk of this disease to undergo osteoporosis screening (DXA examination), we have launched a disease awareness activity called “Honeken (Bone Examination Project)” and support their digital marketing activities in general. You can find a hospital to go for a bone examination.

So next one is Medicon. Medicon is one of the BD(Becton Dickinson) group’s companies and we are helping the inguinal hernia disease awareness (DTC) project we call “Sokei Hernia Notes”. This disease tends to occur more often in men in their 40s and older. In Japan, 150,000 people are treated for inguinal hernia every year, which is the largest number of patients among surgical procedures. In the initial symptoms, there are cases where the patient is not examined for reasons such as “embarrassment” or “fear”, and it is important to see a surgeon or gastroenterological surgeon ASAP without making a judgment on their own. We also help to set up a website and the hospital search survey.

Next one is EA Pharma. we are delivering “Ishamachi” hospital search service where you can consult about constipation. Also, we are helping Kissei Pharmaceutical to set up “Ishamachi” hospital search service which can consult about ANCA-related vasculitis. We can deliver information about common disease like constipation as well as rare diseases like ANCA-related vasculitis.

Last one is Kyowa Kirin: FGF23-related hypophosphatemic rickets/osteomalacia disease awareness (DTC): “Kurukotsu Hiroba”. While working on this rare disease, raising awareness of the disease had been a long time issue. To solve this issue, we proposed the planning, production, and operation of a disease awareness website that explained the disease in an easy-to-understand way for patients and their families, as well as a hospital search service to find hospitals where they could consult.

I will introduce the background of “Kurukotsu Hiroba” project. It is said that there are about 6,000 patients with this rare disease in Japan, but less than 10% of patients are under treatment. It means there are a lot of untreated patients. So, this project is aiming at how to find this rare disease patient and how to guide hospitals to go.

In July 2020, we launched two web services. First one is “Kurukotsu Hiroba” which is a platform for delivering FDF23-related hypophosphatemic and osteomalacia information. Second one is “Ishamachi” Hospital Search to find a hospital where you can consult about this rare disease.

Secondly, we need to gather traffic from the internet. So, we started to promote disease through digital advertising like listing ads and display advertising.

Also, Google’s Searching Engine Optimizations is very important because Google’s share is about 100% of the mobile search engine market and about 80% of the desktop search engine market in Japan. It means we need to understand how to execute Google search engine’s optimization.

For example, when you search for “rickets” and other symptoms like “the instep of the foot hurts” on Google, you can find “Kurukotsu Hiroba” easily. This is very important to gather traffic on the internet.

Fourthly, we collaborated with companies to expand the circle of disease awareness. For example, we update “Ishamachi” Hospital Search database monthly. Also, we collaborated academic societies, produced contents with KOL (Key Opinion Leader) doctors, got introduced to “Kurukotsu Hiroba” by a web media “MIRAI PORT”, posed patient’s testimonials and connected call center from website. These are very important activities.

Fifthly, we asked Kirin Holdings to introduce “Kurukotsu Hiroba” on the Kirin Holdings website. Then “Kurukotsu Hiroba” published “Value co-creation with society” on their websites. This is a very important collaboration.

Finally, Kyowa Kirin introduced its activities in the Annual Report 2022 released in May 2023.

They introduced “Kurukotsu Hiroba” that: This telephone consultation has led to some patients who have actually visited a specialist and reached definitive diagnosis, contributing to the improvement of access to medical care for rare diseases. They focused on patient advocacy and said that activities of “Kurukotsu Hiroba” are very important for patients advocacy.

Through these case studies, we are helping to gather visitors on the internet by using SEO and digital advertising. Also, we helped to set up disease awareness website and manage it.

We can provide one-stop services to support the company’s disease awareness projects.

This table shows points to keep in mind when using the hospital search services. This information is based on the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.

When you use the hospital search service, as for the hospital search site, you do not post only the suppliers of your products. Of course, we pay attention to this point very carefully.

Today’s webinar wrap up summary

  • It is important to improve the design “Fill in the GAP” of disease awareness (DTC) in line with the patient journey on the Internet to increase the consultation rate.
  • We can support both common diseases and rare diseases. In particular, when you appeal to potential patients with rare diseases, it is important to take as many actions as possible to expand awareness.
  • When you plan disease awareness projects, you should prepare for total digital marketing solutions such as SEO, digital ads, well-designed websites and hospital search services to guide patients to the right hospitals to consult.



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