Your Practice's Digital Brand: Establishing Patient Trust

September 22, 2011

We, as patient advocates, must take on the role of helping our patients become educated about their healthcare.

All of us have too many choices. Once we became a global village, we gained access to the offerings of the world. In a matter of seconds we can search any topic - including any healthcare diagnosis -and find information on it. TOO MUCH information. And much of it MISinformation. Our patients don’t have the basis to distinguish misinformation from solid medical fact based on evidence.

That’s where you come in. We, as patient advocates, must take on the role of helping our patients become educated about their healthcare.

I see you, rolling your eyes. “We already have a brochure on diabetes” you’re thinking, or “Our nurses do a great job of education before discharging our cardiac patients”, or whatever your rationalization is for avoiding this topic.

The fact is, if you don’t provide proper information for your patients, they will obtain it elsewhere. Again, much of it MISinformation.

Helping to provide accurate healthcare information for our patients does not mean that we must generate it. No, we don’t personally need to re-write our medical education, reduced to a simple brochure. This is the digital age. It already exists in the digital world. Our responsibility is to review what is out there in the digital world, to filter out the garbage, to find the solid evidence-based medical information, and to curate it or our patients to access.

Curate it? At the easy end of the continuum, that can simply mean making a list of websites that you have reviewed for your patients. At the harder end, it can mean reviewing and translating available information and providing it on your website in various possible forms: a blog, a database of articles, as a regular newsletter, etc. All of these latter do require a significant time investment.

Regardless of how your do it, in order to establish trust, two things MUST happen:
1. You must be the resource of trusted healthcare information; and
2. You must become an authority, an expert, in your area of practice

We will address the second of these in our step-by-step guide for building your digital brand, so let’s focus on the first - being the resource:
• Be a resource of trusted information
• Be generous with value - provide it for free
• Share. Be generous with credit - always credit your sources
• Collect and curate valuable information. Filtered information is King
• Make it easily accessible

Remember, if you don’t provide this information, your patients will find it elsewhere, where it may be inaccurate or misleading. Also remember, we all have TOO MUCH information. Your job is to filter out the useless and present the best information. In my opinion, this may be one of the most important tasks in our role as patient advocates in this digital world. Your patients will be grateful for your efforts.

As you establish yourself and your practice as the trusted resource in your area of practice, you will become the go-to practice or hospital.

Tune in next time for a step-by-step guide for getting started. The guide provides simple steps that will take your practice into the digital world. Accomplishing the steps will provide your practice with a successful digital brand. Warning: the fact that the steps are simple does not mean that they are easy.

See you here next time.

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