“I’d love to believe you doc, but Facebook hasn’t fact checked whether or not I should.”
Okay I’ll admit it. This scenario never happened.
But it is meant to highlight a growing confusion over what medical information to believe.
Far from an expert, I’ll nonetheless suggest the dangers of selectively amplifying certain voices. And denigrating or silencing others.
Solutions are what matter so let’s get right into it!
What Is Medical Misinformation?
The funny thing about trying to define medical misinformation is also why it’s so hard to do so. Nobody can agree.
Since I’m the one writing I suppose I get to give it my best shot. Here goes nothing!
Publishing healthcare data or articles that purposefully exclude the patient’s safety.
What do I mean by that? Either profit or intentional harm is the main driver for sharing it. I know what you’re thinking, “Merriam and Webster would turn in their graves at your definition!”
Well I never said I was a dictionologist. And yes, a dictionologist is probably someone who studies dictionaries. But don’t quote me on that.
Back to the issue at hand.
Online medical misinformation is more common than the print version because of the speed with which patients consume it. I’ll camp out here for a bit and talk through some dangers it presents.
Allow me to make a bold statement. The government should never manage the United States healthcare system.
I’ll allow time for the collective gasp.
Decentralization through private ownership leads to:
- Better patient outcomes
- Higher patient and provider satisfaction
- Medical innovation
Most importantly, it leaves power for medical decisions in the hands of the patient. This is what made America unique in the first place. The state served the individual.
Quality doctors make suggestions, sometimes strong ones, but ultimately respect your choice. “My recommendation is _____.”
Remember what I said about the government earlier? Well here’s a couple of reasons behind my statement.
- They’d operate well outside of their expertise
- Allows them to slap a “misinformation” label on opinions
- Inefficiency is their most efficient process
Especially scary is the thought of them controlling normative claims which can lead to the stripping away of basic liberties. As a student of history this is something I can’t ignore.
Likewise, Big Tech isn’t exactly helping.
Medical Misinformation on Social Media
My business involves daily engaging in healthcare social media. Because of this, I’ve come across a recurring statement.
We’re fighting “medical” misinformation on social media so you don’t have to!
Or something along those lines.
Seems like a noble mission right? Unless your definition of the term is as well thought out as mine! And in my case “well thought out” took like 5 minutes.
Facebook, Twitter, Google. These are private companies which don’t own the internet. But their influence is felt across the entire digital world.
I offer here two examples of supplements that have been shown to help with Coronavirus patients.
Younger people typically aren’t deficient in this vitamin. But due to reasons such as a lack of mobility elderly folks are.
- A recent study found adding the supplement led to less severe Coronavirus outcomes and an increased survival rate
If this is true, it should be all over social media and search engines correct? I’ll perform a quick Google search and find out.
“…very limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using vitamin D for treating or preventing COVID-19.” This one statement can lead physicians and patients to ignore it completely.
How about a common vitamin we get from oranges and other citrus?
Emergen-C is a supplement I take at the first sign of cold symptoms. As a young(er) man I am probably vitamin C deficient. Why?
I’m too lazy to cut an orange. Too many steps! I’m sure you’re with me on this one, the orange people should provide them pre-cut.
Thankfully I haven’t contracted Covid yet, but if I did there’s support for why I should increase my intake of it.
- Researchers discovered taking the supplement improves outcomes in both an inpatient and outpatient setting
Back to Google.
“…no studies have been completed yet.” This snippet from the Cleveland Clinic is a bit misleading. How come?
It should read that there haven’t been any accepted studies performed. This blanket statement also causes providers and patients to look the other way.
Can You Advertise Medical Misinformation?
Non-FDA approved supplements (of which there are many) can’t be recommended or advertised by physicians for the Coronavirus. We should look a bit deeper at this.
Currently the only acceptable exhortation from medical professionals is the vaccine. Seems a bit shortsighted to only have one option don’t you think?
Providers who stray from this narrative face sanctions at the state and federal level. Many have families to support so risk avoidance is common practice.
And how about the earlier claim on vitamin C not having any completed clinical trials?
Here’s the thing with these randomized controlled studies.
- They run in the millions of dollars
- Vaccines are patentable but naturally occurring supplements are harder to get approved
The conundrum is two fold.
- The ROI for supplement companies isn’t great enough to conduct trials
- FDA and other government agencies claim trials are needed for legitimacy
So what’s the solution?
Elijah Wordsmith and Solutions to Medical Misinformation
Generally, the public looks to healthcare for what should fall under the category of medical misinformation.
As a result, the easiest solution is for medicine to be honest when they are wrong. The net result would be a public more likely to confidently accept their determinations.
And here’s where healthcare content writing plays a pivotal role. Being able to translate agreed upon medical information into simple language isn’t easy. A skilled writer will take this “medicalese” and create clear messaging.
Elijah Wordsmith content writing also “verbalizes” the more individualized care current and prospective patients receive from you.
Bring the human side back by sharing stories that impacted you or your staff. Plus enjoy a boost in patient retention and new referrals for a “holistic practice that truly cares.”
Take the first step towards standing out online and schedule a discovery call today!