The Rise of Health Misinformation and the Importance of Credible Healthcare Marketing


The Rise of Health Misinformation and the Importance of Credible Healthcare Marketing
Opinion ByJames Flynn10.01.24

In today’s digital age, information is always at our fingertips. Whilst this might seem like a universal good thing, in the health space it has also given rise to a wave of health misinformation. When we can’t easily discern health facts from fiction it can lead to real consequences. 

Let's delve into this issue, including the scale of the problem, and what a path forward for healthcare marketers may look like.

What exactly is health misinformation, and why should we be concerned?

Health misinformation is simply false, inaccurate, or misleading information about health. However, the real issues arise when people act on this misinformation, leading to delayed or incorrect medical treatment, and misuse of medical resources. 

It can even add fuel to the fire of public health crises, as seen all too recently with the hesitancy on social media around vaccine safety.

At the recent Pharma Communications conference, Monica Campos, Public Affairs Director at Cofares, highlighted the magnitude of the issue, pointing out that one recent anti-vax documentary garnered over 19 million views and 18,000 comments across social platforms, despite providing no robust scientific evidence to substantiate its claims.

How healthcare marketers can cut through the noise

The online health information landscape is complex and rapidly evolving. With the continued rise of influencers, it is becoming increasingly challenging for healthcare marketers to navigate these new waters. But hope is not lost! Here are proactive steps healthcare marketers should be taking to engage with their audiences. 

  • Educate, don’t complicate: Healthcare marketing needs to educate. But it’s also how we educate that matters. One recent study found 43-61% of people in the UK routinely do not understand health information. In her recent talk  “The Science of Simplicity”, Lizz Summers, Head of Brand and Marketing at Medico Digital, highlighted the duty of healthcare marketers to be health literacy-friendly as a crucial element in tackling both misinformation and health inequity.
  • Focus on Building Trust: When we see consistent, evidence-based information from a trusted source, we’re more likely to believe and act on it. But how is trust built? Luckily, there’s a formula that healthcare marketers should be keeping in mind, and it looks like this:
    Credibility (be known as a subject matter expert) + reliability (keep your promises and show your track record of success) + intimacy (be empathetic, show your human side) ÷ self-orientation (if you’re too internally focused you’re not focused on the people you’re serving, and trust becomes harder to build).
  • Move Beyond the Clinical: Effective healthcare marketing needs to tell the stories impacting the people concerned. The Amgen Patient Points of View series is one example of this.
  • The Science of Simplicity: Banish buzzwords and always ask yourself ‘Would a real person say this?’
  • Reach People Where They Are: Effective healthcare marketing means staying active on the latest platforms, technologies, and trends to engage with audiences effectively.

The surge in health misinformation necessitates a proactive response from healthcare marketers. As misinformation permeates digital spaces, marketers must build trust through credibility, reliability, and intimacy, telling impactful stories, simplifying complex information, and staying adaptable are not just strategies but imperatives. It's about connecting with individuals where they are, empowering them with knowledge, and fostering a commitment to truth and transparency in healthcare communications.


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