A health environment of fear

QUICK READ: Scare headlines in the media and misinformation all over the Internet around the current pandemic is leading to fear but may also be counterproductive to stopping the spread of the Coronavirus.

The media has made quite a sensation over the crowd at Clearwater Beach in Northern Florida. Most think the people there are stupid for now observing the recommended social distancing. Yet cities like New York look like ghost towns as people self-quarantine. What’s going on here?

The crowds at the beach are predominantly Spring breakers. What are they supposed to think when every day we are reading headlines based on faulty data or half-truths?

Even credible news outlets like CNN, The Washington Post and NY Times are publishing stories that lead to more questions than they answer. We still, for example, don’t know why someone in their 30’s winds up in the ICU with Corona and someone in their 50’s only shows mild symptoms.

Today the news is that the virus can live for many hours airborne. First, they said wearing masks was a waste of time now they suggest wearing masks.

Make no mistake about it the media bears a lot of responsibility for the atmosphere of fear that in turn has turned consumers into maniacs at markets. Social media also is contributing to the spread of misinformation. It’s, as one person told me, “out of control”.

Here in Naples, the beaches aren’t that crowded

As a DTC marketer, I’m trying to understand where this will lead. The danger of bad online health information is very real. My suggestion to clients is to make every effort to ensure they develop a content strategy written by leading and credible health professionals. Your product website has to be the “go-to” source for patients and caregivers who want answers to their healthcare questions. We can’t afford to say “you’re on your own when searching for health information”.

The other issue that has been brought to light during this pandemic is “why does it take so long to develop new drugs?”. Those of us in the industry know why but now people want to know if the drug development process is full of too much bloat.

Maybe we can learn as we move forward but the price for rushing a drug to market that shows promise in small patient populations could be huge and lead to a windfall for 1-800 lawyers.

Eventually, people get tired of living in fear to the point they go against good advice. The void in leadership and conflicting news doesn’t help either.

The worst thing we can do is act as nothing has changed in the way people use the Internet for health information. Prepare now while you have time and get ready for the new online health patients.