Introducing: Healthcare Idea Email from Hammock | Like Hammock Inc.’s popular Idea Email, the new Healthcare Idea Email briefly explores one topic, every other week. Learn more about the new Healthcare Idea Email at the bottom of the page.

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Idea: The Impossible Challenge Healthcare Marketers Face

By John Lavey | Hammock President and COO

One of the most daunting challenges a marketer faces is crafting communication during a time of transition. If you are a marketer in a healthcare organization today, this is not only a time of transition, but an era of multiple transitions ushered in by new technology, new clinical practices and procedures, and a radical overhaul of healthcare coverage and reimbursements. Communicating through just one of these transitions would be a challenge, but to have them all occurring simultaneously is a tsunami-sized communication challenge.

I wish I could suggest an easy solution to these challenges, but the stark truth is: No one likes transitions. We often don’t like even small changes—whenever any popular online service changes anything about their design or features, there will always be a revolt. We cling to old beliefs and processes, even if we’re shown evidence and research indicating that the new way of doing something is better. And the more we are shown evidence disproving our stance, the more tightly we cling to those beliefs.

The Backfire Effect is a term coined by Dartmouth professor Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler, a professor at the UK’s University of Exeter. They’ve spent more than a decade on research related to the phenomenon of how we block communication that contradicts what we believe. They first started with political beliefs and then moved toward healthcare beliefs such as the hot-button issue of vaccinations. Nyhan and Reifler discovered that the opposite result occurs to what one would expect when people are given proof that a belief is wrong: They dig in their heels and become more convinced that their original belief is correct.

While it is not fully understood why the Backfire Effect occurs, the leading theory is that people treat their beliefs as part of their identity. If you challenge where one stands on something he or she believes, you might as well be challenging who they are.

Healthcare Marketers Bottom Line: In crafting healthcare-related communications that involve transitions from the old way to a new way, always beware of the Backfire Effect. If your message is potentially controversial, craft it in such a way that allows the recipient to save face. When possible, let the communication of change be personified in people who are, like the intended recipient, not the expert or authority who may appear to be communicating, “This is right because I say it is right.”






Photo: Thinkstock

About the new Healthcare Idea Email |
As our popular Idea Email has a large number of healthcare marketers who subscribe, it did not surprise us that the No. 1 request we’ve received is to “offer more ideas about healthcare.” So we have. In addition to Idea Email, on other weeks you can receive the Healthcare Idea Email that is focused exclusively on healthcare-related marketing, media and content trends and topics. You can visit the Healthcare Idea Email archive and subscribe for your own copy here.