Stop with sensationalist medicine headlines

snakeoil553Headlines pull clicks and clicks drive revenue  but today the media’s lack of detail as to what the headlines mean for the average health seeker can cause more damage than inform and educate.  It seems every week we read a headline about a new superfood or better way to stay healthy but unless these studies are backed by good clinical science and supported  in large by the medical community they just might as be tabloid headlines.

As a recent article in Forbes said “ “Articles rarely cite their scientific sources, like linking to an article they are writing about.” Yet another noted a common frustration: “I find it discouraging when I have to spend lots of time hunting down the study and then often find I can’t get more than the abstract online.” Amen to that, although it’s partly an open access issue, too. Some articles don’t even name the publication, much less link to it. There ought to be some kind of demerit system (“you’re demoted to intern for a week!”) or humongous, painful fine for that oversight.”

Imagine if you’re a patient who has a family history of cancer and you read that the acid in cranberries can help fight off some types of cancer.  Where is the evidence and data behind these “facts” ?  Should consumers spend a lot of time hunting down the source of the article or the study and where can they find someone who can put scientific studies into context that’s easy to understand ?

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With more and more people going online for health information the online world of health information has become a maze that is often hard to navigate.  Most physicians have said that they don’t mind when patients bring in information from the web but what about information that is marginal at best ?  How do you tell a patient that the information she has isn’t really supported by good science ?

DTC marketers can of course help consumers get the information they want and need.  They need to provide links to good credible health information sites and more importantly they need to have news  updates on their sites around health conditions and medications.  Why most pharma sites don’t have a rollover to define complex medical terms is beyond me but they are so glued to the label that they are afraid to deviate from it’s complex language.

Consumers are overwhelmed with health information online and they need help cutting through the clutter.  You need to find out what they want and give them the information in a format that makes them better and more empowered patients.  Isn’t that what marketing is all about ?

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