Word of Mouth: Harness the Voice of Patients and Staff for Powerful Results

February 17, 2017

// By Ryan Hanser //

Ryan Hanser

Here’s important context for health care marketing in 2017: Attention and trust continue to decline across the country. Year over year, America appears to be witnessing the collapse of expertise and institutional trust.

Sure, we still have knowledgeable specialists—doctors, for starters. The trouble is that people increasingly reject the authority of expertise. Moreover, a majority of us do not have faith in institutions—government, business, nongovernmental organizations, and media—to do what is right.

Instead, research says we live in a self-referential world where Google, Facebook, and other online destinations are relied upon to soothe skepticism and affirm bias. Beyond our continued trust in friends and family, we increasingly seek out the people who resemble ourselves. We trust peer recommendations online.

The initial reactions to these trends—a push for transparency in all sorts of institutions and advocacy for “the marketplace of ideas” where the important news will find you—held fast to the idea that the public cared about facts. But data suggests that what people most care about is fulfilling their need to belong—to be accepted and connected.

Word-of-mouth influence has always been higher for considered purchases like health care—people do more research, opinion-seeking, and deliberation for unprecedented needs and greater expenses. Adding rising health care consumerism to the declining institutional trust means third-party endorsement becomes a marketing imperative.

Now more than ever, I’m compelled to share perspective on how to harness the power of the authentic, trusted voices around you.

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