How to Address Negative Press That Affects Your Practice
As a healthcare provider, you do everything in your power to prioritize patient safety, comfort, and satisfaction at every step of treatment. However, sometimes a new study or buzzworthy news story emerges that casts a negative light on a particular treatment or product, inciting anxiety in patients and leaving you with a potential medical public relations dilemma.
One high-profile example was the media coverage surrounding breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL—a rare form of cancer that was linked with textured breast implants. Women who had either already undergone or were considering breast augmentation were suddenly inundated with warnings about the procedure—many of which were inaccurate or incomplete. While keeping people informed about the potential health and safety risks associated with elective procedures is important, these cases also often result in widespread misinformation and even outright fear-mongering. Other examples include reports of facial swelling in COVID-19 vaccine recipients who had previously had dermal fillers, the ongoing discussion surrounding Breast Implant Illness (BII), and recent coverage relating to paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) in cryolipolysis patients.
So what should you do when a procedure or treatment you offer starts generating negative press? Rosemont Media’s team of marketing specialists are here to answer your questions and help you respond effectively and efficiently.
Be Prepared to Answer Patient Questions
When negative press begins circulating about a procedure, patients will naturally have questions. In many cases, they may turn to you as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information. So how should you respond? As the old adage goes: honesty is always the best policy. The majority of patients will appreciate a clinician who is straightforward and upfront about the risks associated with a given treatment.
That said, it is also important to avoid feeding into the fear and anxiety surrounding a procedure or product that has come under public scrutiny. Offering a balanced perspective means acknowledging the possibility of side effects while also emphasizing how rare they typically are. In cases where concerns about a procedure are substantial, you may choose to stop offering it altogether. Keeping patients informed about specific risk factors that may increase their likelihood of experiencing a negative side effect can also go a long way towards earning patient trust. However, even in cases where you feel a patient is not at risk, it is still important to treat their concerns seriously and do whatever you can to make them feel supported and heard.
Consider Updating Your Website With Relevant Information
Your website is oftentimes the first point of contact new or prospective patients have with you and your practice, so keeping it up-to-date is an important part of any web marketing strategy. In cases where a procedure or product you offer is receiving negative coverage, a timely update can help make sure your website continues to serve as an effective and informative resource.
- Addressing the topic directly. This strategy involves updating the designated procedure page(s) with information about the newsworthy topic. For instance, when addressing paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) in cryolipolysis patients, you may wish to add or expand a section about potential side effects that includes relevant facts about PAH.
- Alluding to the topic indirectly. In some cases, you may wish to avoid directly referencing a specific concern while still providing reassurance about the overall safety and effectiveness of a treatment. In this situation, it can be helpful to provide information about the steps you take to ensure patient safety and/or emphasize the high rates of satisfaction associated with a procedure or product.
- Removing content from your website. In rare cases, an additional strategy for addressing negative press may be to edit or outright remove a specific product or treatment from your website. For example, many surgeons opted to excise information about textured breast implants in response to rising concerns about BIA-ALCL. Especially in cases dealing with substantial health concerns or product recalls, you may even choose to stop offering a treatment entirely.
Publish a Blog or Press Release
Blogs and press releases are excellent tools for addressing trending topics, and they indicate to readers that you are active and engaged within your industry. As a medical professional, you have expert knowledge and opinions to share that people around the web may find valuable. Putting your thoughts into a blog or press release allows you to contribute accurate, relevant information to an ongoing discussion, all the while promoting your practice in the process.
Do You Have to Address Negative Press At All?
Ultimately, the answer is no. How you handle newsworthy topics in your industry is up to you, and if you would prefer not to comment on the issue, that is a perfectly valid response. However, for those who are hesitant to comment on a news story publicly, there are still options for providing reassurance to existing patients who may be impacted. One-on-one consultations are an excellent time to address patient concerns and provide information about possible side effects. You may also want to consider sending out a targeted email blast acknowledging the news story and answering a few frequently asked questions. This can help settle some of the anxiety induced by negative news coverage while also reinforcing the trust between you and your existing patients.
Rosemont Media Can Help
Navigating negative press within your industry can be difficult, but our team of marketing experts is here to help. Whether you want to tackle the topic head-on or take a more discreet approach, we can guide you through developing a strategy that is optimally suited to your goals. To learn more about how Rosemont Media can assist you with reputation management and public relations, please contact us today.