Words do matter.
A recent survey of 500 consumers located in six southwest states were asked about their sentiments regarding healthcare advertising and marketing. One big takeaway? The three most effective words that healthcare organizations should use when marketing their services to the public are:
Other similar words, such as “expert,” “helpful” and “innovative” ranked considerably lower. Researchers concluded, “Clearly, nuance [in messaging] matters.” Crafting advertising language in any type of business or industry is important for a few key reasons: Inform, promote and, most importantly, sell.
Unfortunately, in healthcare, when it comes to decision-making tools on pricing of procedures and having the best clinical outcomes on specific local providers, the public generally operates in a ‘black box.’ Instead, we are forced to rely on other factors that serve as guardrails when seeking effective and appropriate medical care, such as provider reputation (justified or not), word of mouth, provider participation in insurance networks, trust (again, justified or not), and the aforementioned, advertising.
The general public is bombarded with countless health-related topics and sources. How can Americans decide what ‘position’ to accept as gospel or reject as hogwash? The convergence between truth and fiction can become so difficult to decipher, especially when documented facts are baked in with half-truths. Former New York Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, perhaps put it best when it came to sharing the truth: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Individuals, organizations and industries are entitled to share their views, but when these views are dangerously lauded to be factual, a fine-line is often crossed that is intended to mislead the public. One of the first things I do when reading an article, study or advertisement is to learn about the author (or source). Which organization(s) does he/she/they represent, and how might they be compensated? I know, it seems a bit anal-retentive, but it actually serves as a good, informal reality check to expose the fox guarding the hen house. As we all know, the fox may appear to have the chicken’s best interest in mind, but in reality, he is looking for his next supper – at the chicken’s expense.
Recently, I was asked by a media outlet to participate in a public discussion about healthcare issues facing Iowa and the U.S. Although unable to attend this event, I was reminded that my role was important because “I had no dog in the fight.” This meant that I had no predisposition to protect a particular industry or take a sacred position on any given issue. Just tell it like it is. I took this to be a high compliment.
Because I write separate blog posts for two websites, David P. Lind Benchmark and Heartland Health Research Institute (HHRI), I have decided to assign a particular name to my HHRI blogpost – “The Health Autonomist.”
When writing a blog, my intent is to not influence the reader, but rather, provide a different perspective, using factual information based from credible sources. So, should you believe everything I write? Simply put, “No.” In fact, if you have feasible information that refutes my posts, I invite your comments. When it comes to discussing health, healthcare and health insurance, it is critical to have a community dialogue rather a one-person monologue. Please remember, I am merely trying to seek the truth, as it is buried somewhere under mainstream thought and practice.
The word ‘autonomist’ matters to me. I hope it also matters to you!
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