The Trust Factor—Today More Than Ever

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“By reaching patients where medical decision-making occurs, POC content is uniquely positioned to bolster that sense of empowerment while helping to reeducate and correct mistaken beliefs. Job one for POC marketers, however, is earning patient trust.”

Maria Lissandrello, SVP, Chief Content Officer

Health Monitor Network

Before there was a thing called COVID, people might have googled the odd symptom now and then (a scaly rash, a sudden back spasm, an annoying eye floater), typically landing on a site like Mayo Clinic, Everyday Health or WebMd. And generally speaking, they vetted their findings with their healthcare providers.

Fast forward to post-pandemic times, and not only are people 3.4 times more likely to turn to the internet for health info, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, but they’re increasingly putting their faith in questionable sources. Alarmingly, 20% of Americans turn to TikTok and 33% to YouTube before consulting their doctors, and nearly 1 in 5 Americans trust health influencers more than medical professionals, according to a 2022 study by Charity Rx. More sobering still, that same Edelman report found that 44% of adults ages 18-34 believe the only thing standing between them and MD-caliber knowledge is a bunch of online research.

The downside of these trends is the proliferation of “fake health news”—a serious threat that imperils mental and physical health. As per a Kaiser Family Foundation study, at the height of COVID, 78% of people believed at least one COVID-related falsehood, such as “You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine,” and “Ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19.” And the problem doesn’t start and end with COVID. A common social media–fueled misperception among people with diabetes, for instance, is that you can feel when your glucose rises and that you don’t need medication unless your glucose is high. In a climate where patient empowerment is increasingly intersecting with medical misinformation, Point-of-Care media’s role is more crucial than ever.

Patient and HCP

By reaching patients where medical decision-making occurs, POC content is uniquely positioned to bolster that sense of empowerment while helping to reeducate and correct mistaken beliefs. Job one for POC marketers, however, is earning patient trust. At Health Monitor, we do that by following a few key principles:

1) Putting a premium on credibility. To ensure our content is accurate, we work closely with our Medical Advisory Board and key opinion leaders, who review all our material. True leaders in their fields, they are the people who conduct the trials, write the studies and create the guidelines. Just a few of the stars on our roster: dermatologist Mark Lebwohl, MD, Dean for Clinical Therapeutics and Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; ob/gyn Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University; and oncologist Marc Garnick, MD, a world-renowned clinician and clinical investigator in prostate and other urologic cancers.

2) Connecting with empathy. In addition to helping patients feel understood, when used in healthcare marketing, empathy has been shown to simplify decision-making, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Marketing. Empathic contents considers the patient’s point of view, daily struggles and obstacles at various points during their healthcare journey.

3) Countering low health literacy with clarity. Not only are people with low health literacy especially vulnerable to fake health news, but according to the Journal of the Medical Library Association, “poor health literacy “is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than age, income, employment status, education level and race.” Clarity is achieved through judicious use of language, imagery and overall design.

4) Relating to readers through storytelling. Storytelling is a key way to achieve relatability. It humanizes complex and sometimes scary medical conditions, makes them easier to understand and fosters a sense of community. It also motivates behavioral change and instills hope.

5) Embracing all. Of the 80 million people with low health literacy, more than 65% come from minority communities, according to the US Department of Education. Creating content that ensures people see themselves can help bridge the gap. Health Monitor is actively contributing to the effort through our creation and funding of the first of its kind Health Equity Patient Education Longitudinal Study, led by Julius Wilder, MD, PhD, chair of the Duke University School of Medicine Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-racism Committee; Vice Chair, Duke Dept of Medicine Minority Retention and Recruitment Committee; and Co-Director for the Duke CTSI-Community Engaged Research Initiative. The three-year study is examining how diverse populations respond to various patient-education tactics such as print, digital and video, with the goal of identifying the most effective methods and communication infrastructures for communicating relevant and important health information to diverse communities.

To ensure today’s patients are not only empowered but armed with accurate information, Health Monitor is passionate about guarding authenticity and committed to reaching patients with trustworthy content—at all points of care—every day.