Information is a powerful resource in the healthcare world

The right information can be what facilitates the beginning of a provider-patient relationship. Creating reliable, authoritative content is both an opportunity and an obligation for healthcare providers today.

The public is hungrier than ever before for reliable, straight-from-the-source health information. As we’ll discuss, more than 80 percent of people who search the internet have looked up health information online. Worldwide, there are 70,000 Google searches per minute related to health.

People want to know about health conditions, insurance, and medications. Unfortunately, they will often be convinced to settle for whatever happens to pop up in their search engines first. The content they discover will ultimately determine which providers they trust, listen to, and visit.

Welcome to what some experts are calling the “consumerist era” of healthcare. The good news is that, as a healthcare provider — you have the type of knowledge that they are seeking. But, do you know how to get your voice out there? Do you have a content plan that will enable your practice or facility to stay relevant as “likes” and “views” increasingly dominate the future of the healthcare marketplace?

Let’s discuss how care providers can fill the need for useful health information while also establishing themselves as “friendly faces” in the communities they serve.

ER Doctor Examines EKG

Building Trust Through Communication

A good content marketing strategy establishes a care provider as a reliable, authoritative source. People are increasingly seeking the wisdom of the Internet and social media when looking for answers to medical questions before picking up the phone to reach out to professionals. As a result, care providers must meet information seekers where they are.

So, how can you reach people on the internet who are looking for health advice? A big part of that is simply knowing how to create written and visual content that gets found. Of course, making your content “searchable” is never enough. Content must also be enriching and engaging enough for viewers to want to absorb what you’re saying, register you in their minds as a reliable source, and reach out for follow-up guidance.

Healthcare Has Already Moved to the Internet

Healthcare and the Internet cannot be unlinked. A recent survey reveals that 80 percent of respondents in the United States have used the internet to do a healthcare-related search within the past year. What’s more, 63 percent of respondents say that they will choose one provider over another due to a robust online presence. That “presence” includes the availability of relevant, accurate, and compelling information.

What if the majority of your patients are older? If this is the case, you may assume that you’re “in the clear” when it comes to developing a plan for producing and distributing comprehensive healthcare content. However, 75 percent of respondents involved in the poll noted above who are above the age of 60 have used the Internet to make healthcare-related decisions within the past year.

Creating a Space for Conversation

One extensive study on attitudes toward online healthcare resources and information from 2017 reveals a lot about how care providers can serve the needs of information-seeking patients. One big reveal is that many aspects of a patient’s illness, feelings, problems, and expectations of their doctor are rarely discussed during patient-provider interactions. As a result, many “health consumers” are turning to the Internet to seek the support they don’t feel comfortable seeking out in person.

These patients are seeking out a supportive environment where they can get unique insights regarding health conditions or circumstances that they believe their doctors either cannot or will not provide. As a provider, you should be hearing bells going off! Robust, insightful healthcare content can fulfill this need!

Encouraging an Open Dialogue

How much more enthusiastic would patients be to visit your office if they could discover a wealth of information created by your facility online that addresses the very topics and situations they are hoping to discuss? An open-minded content strategy can let patients know that you are comfortable discussing the information that they are seeking. Potential patients may feel comfortable enough to become part of the conversation when you share meaningful, insight-rich content via social media or blog posts that are open for commenting.

Establishing Trust

That same study from 2017 also offers many insights regarding attitudes towards the quality and reliability of the healthcare information that is floating around there. Survey respondents were all keenly aware of the abundance of “poor-quality” health information available on the Internet. Unfortunately, the reality is that health information provided by unqualified sources can lead to problems like inappropriate treatments, delayed treatments, or hesitation to seek proper, professional care. It can also make you seem unqualified as a medical provider. This is why it’s abundantly crucial for you to deliver credible and informative content that can be easily searched and shared.

The Battle Against Disinformation

Many healthcare providers are frustrated by the abundance of misinformation floating around. Unfortunately, many people who aren’t qualified healthcare providers have discovered that it “pays” to create and spread content related to common health questions. This is something that we’ve seen increasingly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare providers have spent a lot of time addressing rumors, dispelling myths, and clarifying actual medical guidelines as misinformation has spread across the Internet. One doctor operating inside one office cannot battle against millions of shares and views worth of disinformation without taking to the Internet.

The problem is that misinformation can be compelling. For instance, a certain documentary that floated around during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that features allegations regarding several conspiracy theories tied to the crisis exemplifies just how easily dubious or incomplete information can spread. Similarly, inaccurate or incomplete information about vaccines’ safety or the origins of chronic diseases often makes the rounds.

The persuasive techniques used in many videos and articles that present factual inaccuracies regarding research studies or medical cases can make it difficult for someone without a background in healthcare or research to make heads or tails of what they’re consuming. The question is not whether this type of content should or shouldn’t be permitted to exist. Rather, what are healthcare professionals and physicians doing to make sure their patients have access to accurate, precise information when confusion is so easy to find on the “healthcare” side of the Internet?

There’s no doubt that a certain percentage of patients have seen or heard about popular documentaries, videos, or articles floating around there. As a result, many doctors are encountering patients who are operating off of misinformation when making health-related decisions. And, as we discussed earlier, many topics are not brought up during provider-patient meetings. What this means is that opportunities to clear up misunderstandings or dispel rumors aren’t happening during office visits.

Creating and distributing relevant, authoritative content regarding health headlines that are “happening now” can be such a powerful and helpful option for care providers. Yes, this can be done in a fully noncontroversial way when just the facts and data are laid out. As a provider, you aren’t focused on telling people why they are wrong. Your single objective is to simply look out for the health and wellness of both your patients and the public at large by providing them with the information and resources to make their own informed decisions.

A scene from The Year of Emotional Wellness film that premiered at the BronxCare Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Storytelling in healthcare can be cinematic, even entertaining.

Spreading Healthier Living Through Good Content

Physicians understand the value of preventative care. They also know that this is a very difficult message to get across to patients in a meaningful way when they may only see them for annual visits. This is one reason why dedicating a large portion of the content to providing tips, information, and healthier living strategies can be extremely beneficial.

The reality is that most people either don’t listen to or “forget” their doctors’ advice by the time they’ve driven away following an office visit. A good content strategy creates a patient-provider relationship that extends beyond the walls of the examination room. You’re no longer just a patient’s “doctor” once you establish an online relationship with that patient. You are now a resource.

There is a lot of content to cover when it comes to providing stats, tips, and recommendations for healthier living. In fact, you’ll have many ways to approach the concept of embracing preventative care once you deploy your content strategy. This can include daily tips, encouragement, and access to resources for charting healthy habits. The reality is that patients will enjoy better health and potentially save in healthcare costs when they engage in preventative care. Reminding them of this fact is also telling them that you’re providing value to their lives by sharing resources for preventative care.

Serving Underserved Communities Through Communication

COVID-19 has revealed many things about the relationship between access to medical care and underserved communities that many physicians and members of the public have suspected for a long time in a much broader way. In fact, many are calling the health disparities made visible by COVID-19, a “crisis within a crisis.” Some of the research to emerge so far is showing that African Americans are accounting for more than 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in cities where African Americans represent between 30 percent and 40 percent of the population. Research provided by the CDC from the peak of the pandemic shows that 30 percent of hospitalized patients in some areas were African American even though the average community hospitalization rate was just 18 percent.

Studies are currently underway to confirm the data that has trickled in so far. What’s more, researchers will spend the coming months and years trying to understand and reduce the impact being felt in particular communities. Healthcare providers also have an obligation to keep an eye on what emerges. What’s more, the data revealed can help shape the content developed and shared by care providers, hoping to help serve communities that are disproportionately impacted by health emergencies like COVID-19.

The goal of creating content that reaches underserved communities is really to bring information to people who may not walk through the doors of a practice or clinic whenever they have questions. This is where the concept of being a friendly, authoritative face in the community really comes through.

Little Girl getting oxygen in the ER being helped by nurse

Some Final Thoughts on How Content Marketing Benefits Care Providers and Patients

Many physicians shun “content marketing” because they don’t like the idea of acting like a business when they have a heart and mind for providing care. However, the data we’ve covered regarding the number of people seeking healthcare-related information on the Internet makes it clear that today’s practitioners need to be online if they want to be where the people are. It’s important not to think of healthcare content marketing as something that is self-serving or self-promoting. This is simply how today’s care providers need to operate if they want to get the right information into the right hands while motivating people to seek appropriate care using appropriate medical channels.

Healthcare content marketing that is done correctly always retains its “human” element. That means that you’re presenting information that is relevant and easily understood. As a medical storyteller, you’re combining your years of experience with helping patients with your passion for solid, fact-based medicine.

There’s no need to begin a journey to becoming a content creator alone. 10X10 Studios has been helping tell stories since 2011. We’ll help you to find your voice to craft elegant, highly useful content that ultimately uses the Internet to spread health and wellness. Our team will show you how to create a plan for content marketing that is scaled to your goals.  We’ll also help you create a sustainable, long-term strategy for building an online presence using high-value, high-impact content. The world needs accurate healthcare information more than ever! Let 10X10 Studios show you how to lead the conversation.

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