Considering no relationship has higher stakes than that involving a person’s health, trust is a crucial factor in healthcare marketing. It is usually hard-won, but easy to lose; and it is often the case that transparency needs to be embedded within the values of your business to sustain those relationships.
Trust can be developed in a few ways. Here are the elements that make up the foundation of successful healthcare relationships.
Trust through education
Medical education is a highly effective tactic to engender trust. When a patient feels informed, they are more likely to find the healthcare experience positive. Empowered by education, they can then use their knowledge to manage their expectations about the healthcare solutions on offer and properly evaluate different options.
The key to providing the information with the right amount of both science and emotion is finding the appropriate language, pitched at a level where patients can understand enough to have confidence in the solution, or at least direct relevant questions to a medical professional. This means material must strive to make complex concepts more accessible without oversimplifying or condescending to patients.
Trust through meeting expectations
Being clear, transparent and realistic about what a patient can expect from treatment, a health product or service will result in greater confidence in your brand.
Where possible, look to support conversations around efficacy with real-world experience and advice – so prescribers understand exactly how this treatment will act outside of a clinical trial.
Disease and treatment are uncharted waters for patients – so it’s important that they have quality information available to guide them on their journey. By giving healthcare providers resources to communicate the realities of a medical condition and its treatment, you are setting both patients and healthcare providers up for a better experience. Never promise anything that you can’t deliver.
Trust through consistency
Always setting and meeting expectations builds loyalty. When their expectations are consistently met, patients see that the brand has their best interests at heart.
Furthermore, consistency in the tone and style of messaging helps the brand and what it is offering become more readily understood, which increases the comfort factor for patients and keeps them loyal. Consistency translates to reliability, which is a positive trait for a healthcare brand.
Trust through responsibility
While medical advertising regulations guide brands to work within clear parameters, when a company makes a mistake or something untoward happens, taking responsibility for it is paramount because it shows patients that you are honest and open about factors that could affect their health.
It can even increase the trust factor: being forthright about something that doesn’t benefit you is seen as more honest than being forthright about something that does. Beyond that, showing that you can acknowledge and learn from mistakes is important.
Trust through ownership
Finally, a relationship built on trust goes both ways. Medical professionals and healthcare collateral, including the products and services used by patients, must give the patient some ownership of their health outcomes. Trusting patients to follow recommendations and to monitor their own progress through devices such as health apps may go a long way to strengthen the trust between patient, practitioner and healthcare brand.
A positive, transparent relationship is integral to patient satisfaction and loyalty. Trust is one of the biggest factors that determines healthcare marketing success, but it cannot be bought, only developed through mutual respect. Investing in building trust should always be a priority in a brand’s marketing strategy because without it, patients won’t buy into the solution.
About the Author
Simon Davies is the founder and chief executive of Bastion Brands, an award-winning creative agency he founded in 2012 specialising in health advertising and medical marketing thriving in the space where science and emotion collide.