Facts matter: Is your healthcare content trustworthy?
You need to carefully evaluate the sources you use for the healthcare content you create.
In some ways, the internet is still the Wild, Wild West. You can’t always trust everything there. But you need your healthcare consumers to trust in you.
That’s why you want to ensure that any healthcare content from your hospital is trustworthy and valuable, and you need to carefully evaluate the sources you use for the content you create.
6 questions good health content researchers ask
Asking these questions can help determine whether an online source meets your standards for quality, accuracy and reliability:
1. Who paid for it? Take a look at the “About Us” section of the website you're considering using information from. Things to check for there:
- Who runs the site?
- What is its purpose? For example, does it exist to sell products or services?
- How is the sponsoring organization funded? Sometimes what’s missing can provide important clues about a site’s purpose and reliability. A trustworthy site will include contact information.
Pro tip: Healthcare web addresses that end in .gov or .org often make trusty sources. So if you find a fact on a commercial site that interests you, see if you can confirm it on a .gov or .org site that isn’t trying to sell you anything.
2. What’s the source? It’s not unusual for a health or medical site to carry information collected from other sources. But these sources should be identified, and the site should preferably have a link to the original information.
3. When was it last updated? Healthcare information changes constantly. For instance, organizations often update their screening and treatment guidelines, and scientists are learning more about many health conditions virtually every day. So it’s important to verify that you’re getting the most up-to-date facts about a condition or treatment. In some cases, outdated information can even be dangerous.
Pro tip: Reliable sites should be updated often—and clearly indicate when the information was written or reviewed. You can usually find this information near the bottom of the page.
4. Is it fact or opinion? It should be clear who wrote the health content and where the original data came from. If healthcare information appears to be based solely on someone’s opinion or personal experience, it probably doesn’t pass the quality test.
5. Is it real or fake? As a savvy healthcare marketer, you’ll likely have no problem determining whether a medical webpage is the real deal. But if you’re ever suspicious (many consumers have been duped!), just look for a disclaimer somewhere on the page that indicates the site is an advertisement.
Pro tip: Remember, a website’s advertising disclaimer may be in very small type!
6. Does the site collect personal information? If a site asks you to open an account, subscribe or sign in, that’s not necessarily a red flag. But make sure you know what will be done with that private information. Look for privacy statements and policies that ensure the site is secure.
Stuck? Use your healthcare experts
Occasionally, you’ll run into a challenges like these:
- Two or more credible sources report conflicting information.
- A source describes facts not found anywhere else on the internet. Is it a cutting-edge breakthrough—or too good to be true?
Pro tip: In either above scenario, you might consult the subject matter experts within your own hospital.
Apply these rules to your content
And, finally, remember that healthcare consumers may be asking these same six questions about the healthcare content you create for them. So make sure your hospital website passes the test too.
Your source for compelling healthcare content
Coffey produces healthcare content you can count on. We know that our clients—and their reputations—rely on us to provide trustworthy information. So we hold ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy. Check out some of our healthcare content success stories or contact us to find out more about putting our content team to work for your organization.