Part 5: The Power of Self-Diagnosis and What it Means for Health Brands

Browse By

Consumers are proactively managing their health in innovative ways. With the emergence of online forums and social media groups, health brands and medical providers must take note or be left behind as more people crowdsource information and make informed decisions and self-diagnosis.

The number of doctor’s appointments set each year has been on a steady decline. 

Though many attribute the rise in healthcare costs to the underlying cause, there’s a larger reason hospitals are being forced to close their doors: 

The explosive growth in consumers’ access to information.

The writing is on the wall (or in the internet browser). 

Consumers are doing the diagnosing with the help of content and social media. And the doctor’s expertise is now replaced by online forums and crowdsourced advice.

It’s not just what consumers can access that is redefining healthcare, it is how

they are using the information.

There are two important ways the newly empowered health consumer is becoming even more powerful:

    1. Self Diagnosis and Research Before Seeking Care

Many patients enter the doctor’s office knowing what they have and what treatments they want.

In today’s on-demand world, 44% of patients are symptom searching well before they make the first appointment. 

Not only does this empower them to know which specialist to seek out, but it also puts them in control over their health in new ways. And, if the self-diagnosis warrants medical treatment, they make an appointment. But, if it doesn’t, they’ll likely skip the doctor altogether.

At best the doctor is now a second opinion. Or, simply a way for patients to “fact check” Google.

     2. Building Digital Health Communities

Patients are able to crowdsource their diagnosis with very high accuracy.

Instead of opting for one medical opinion, consumers are tap into thousands of medical articles, research, and personal experiences in just a few seconds.

It’s the ease of use of posting a question and getting a near real-time response that doctors cannot compete with. Coupled with the sense of community and solidarity these online communities create, 63% of consumers go online for medical help rather than call a doctor. 

And with 60% of people trusting health information posted online, it’s clear that going to the doctor has become an almost “archaic” concept.

Content Marketing for The Empowered Consumer

On the surface, this emerging self-diagnosis trend may seem extremely problematic or even described as amateurish by most. 

However, it points to one very important point: consumers want more trusted information. 

So, why not give it to them? As the great direct response forefathers would say, if there is a mass desire, it is the marketer’s job to meet it.

This is why a well-planned content marketing strategy can be the perfect way to increase sales revenue and capture the self-diagnosis market. 

As patients continue to turn to your content, they build a relationship with your brand. When they share your content with others, your brand begins to take on an online persona of its own. When consumers are looking for a healthcare provider when they can’t find the answers they need, guess who they will turn to? 

It is by riding this wave of self-diagnosis and giving consumers the medical information they want that you can build unshakable trust to boost patient acquisition. Which is why content marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies.

Healthcare marketing is about meeting the patient where they are, whether it be in the doctor’s office, on a search engine, or in an online forum. The key is to get your information on the platforms they use. And if my 20 years in marketing has given me one rule to live by, it’s this: tap into mass desire and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.