Misinformation has always plagued healthcare, but never as much as now. In a post-pandemic era, healthcare information is sought on the Internet like never before. Democratizing healthcare information is one of the astounding victories of the Internet, but it can quickly become a disaster when left unchecked. Healthcare leaders are now exposed to health misinformation’s impact up close and need tools and solutions to fight back. Over and above COVID or vaccines, there are a plethora of instances of healthcare misinformation every day, from patients taking unnecessary supplements that blow out their lives to people who don’t believe in vaccines to people who lose their lives over cancer treatments and fertility treatments. It’s a chronic, ever-present issue in health care since the beginning of time.
The Dangers of Misinformation
There’s certainly been a lot of attention to misinformation recently. It goes way back to the dawn of medicine. For example, the misinformation that was surrounding HIV. That’s far enough back that it’s not the current day, although HIV is still with us. Some of the most complex parts of public health we saw firsthand during COVID-19 are not science. HIV AIDS is no different from that. It is now a chronic disease, effectively. Public health is about the communication that is sent out, and we saw that with HIV AIDS.
The best example of misinformation is demonstrated in the story of Jerome. Many patients, time and again, died from HIV and AIDS because they thought it was only a disease that homosexuals could get. People misunderstood the disease. They failed to realize that this was an equal opportunity threat to their health and that there were preventive measures that one could take.
Similar circumstances came up during COVID. The exact form of misinformation was the cause of death. Healthcare organizations needed to identify ways the information would stay visible in translation swiftly. Consumers begin to go down the vortex hole of the Internet, which can sometimes be surrounded by misinformation and manipulated communication. It is a real danger. Technology has excellent advantages; artificial intelligence has much promise and opportunity in healthcare. However, the key lies in its sensible implementation. It boils down to meeting consumers and ensuring they get what they buy.
Validating Healthcare Information
The ease and accessibility of using the Internet to gain information and insights about health cannot be undermined. For most patients, it is the first step toward navigating their health. Democratizing health care information, or in simpler terms, researching their health, has created a wave of awareness and proactive measures for many. On the flip side, attention needs to be called upon meeting the moment when we have so much technology and many tools. Healthcare professionals must consider how to meet consumer demands and offer viable information as the next step in their healthcare journey—encouraging technology as the first step is ensuring that the consumer gains awareness on the follow-up steps: where to go and whom to talk to.
To this day, 57% of Americans place their primary trust in their doctor. The real key and magic lies in finding information and finding someone who proposes that information, validates it, offers professional advice on the way forward, the following steps, how to tackle emergencies, etc. In a nutshell, the information has to be customized to the consumer, and this can only be done by a healthcare professional. Ultimately, it’s about bolstering that trust and empowering that relationship.
An Enterprise Strategy
Healthcare is local. Starting with the doctor-patient relationships in every zip code, surgeon generals are the primary caregivers. The way forward is to consider how we can offer these individual physicians a voice to affect a population.
It is where an enterprise strategy comes in. We know that medicine has become consolidated. There has to be an enterprise strategy between the chief marketing officer, the chief information officer, and the chief medical officer. In the past, it was about EHR implementation, patient engagement, or how to do the digital front door. Now, we are in a world where we have done all these things, and telemedicine is now part of hybrid care.
Prioritizing it cross-collaboratively can minimize misinformation, increase ROI, and enhance patient retention. Within this prioritization lies the connection between marketing, technology, and clinical leadership, often the missing link in healthcare.
At scale, we had a great conversation with Paul Mattson, the head of Marcoms at Cleveland Clinic, and they described how they took individual positions and individual storytelling, brought it up to an enterprise level, and drove patient acquisition and retention. Patients can also make an appointment and get personalized care.
Merging AI with the Human Touch
AI has tremendous potential to take the administrative burden through prior authentication, clinical decision support, and documentation. The essential lies in finding the balance
between automating the low triage, low query questions and bringing in human interaction for complexity. Generative AI can be a boon for healthcare, but organizations need to stay mindful of clinical leadership and ethics. With the emergence of new technologies, such as healthcare CRM and AI generative data, consumers also need a valid physician; there must be clinical leadership throughout the process. Technology is fundamentally disrupting healthcare workflow, and clinicians can understand the disruption before anyone else can see it. Indeed, to stay competitive, clinical presence and their ability to predict are critical.
As technology harnesses the accessibility of healthcare information, the need for clinical leadership is paramount. Value-based care consistently offers patient satisfaction and relies on a natural balance between technology and human touch. Clinicians must innovate on the various opportunities to promote this balance and prevent misinformation. Explore more exciting topics and listen to insightful podcasts related to healthcare only on CareTalk.
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David William linkedin
David, co-host of CareTalk Podcast, articulates his passion for digital health, technology-enabled services, and AI. His podcasts cover many intriguing healthcare subjects to guide stakeholders to a better future in healthcare.
Dr. Geeta Nayyar linkedin
Dr. Geeta Nayyar is the author of the forthcoming book, Dead Wrong, Diagnosing and Treating Healthcare’s Misinformation Illness. She is a nationally recognized leader in healthcare IT and former chief medical officer of Salesforce.