An uptick in deceptive, misleading health information has spread across social media platforms related to topics ranging from diseases to treatments to vaccines. Besides an epidemic of misinformation, the pandemic eroded trust in healthcare, with polls showing that just 34% of the public placed “somewhat” or “complete” trust in pharmaceutical companies.
The U.S. surgeon general noted that misinformation isn’t new but “it has spread at unprecedented speed and scale, especially online,” and declared misinformation, “a significant public health challenge.”
Providing accurate information to protect patients from misinformation is a key goal for pharmaceutical companies, and print media can be a crucial part of the solution. Pharmaceutical companies that turn to print media to combat misinformation have the advantage of providing information in a tactile, trustworthy medium that has a serious effect.
Preventing the spread of misinformation
Rapid sharing on digital platforms has led to the rise of misinformation and medical mistrust, making it harder to distinguish fact from fiction. In contrast, print media builds reputation and trust.
One survey asked consumers which advertising channels they deemed most reliable and 82% chose print. Print ads are perceived as safe and legitimate and come without the fear of viruses and spam.
FedEx Office collaborates with pharmaceutical companies to produce a range of patient-facing printed collateral, including posters, free-standing signage and brochures — providing accurate health information in a reliable medium.
“It’s trusted information that is coming right from the [pharmaceutical companies] as opposed to a pharmacist who is busy giving patients their rundown of the medication, which might even be forgotten later,” said Jeremy Wozniak, national account manager for FedEx Office. “When pharmacists are referencing ingredients or instructions, patients have the printed material right there to reinforce the message.”
Consumers see up to 10,000 digital ads every day, but those messages require more brainpower to process and are harder to remember than words printed on a page. The struggle to retain details after the pixels disappear from the screen might be a bonus when digital ads spread misinformation, but it can become problematic when it comes to countering falsehoods and sharing facts.
Readers are better at remembering words printed on paper, which is the reason print is often used to counter misinformation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation led people to take unproven substances to “cure” the virus; guidance documents for pharmacists to display in pharmacies and hand out to patients were among the printed materials used to provide accurate information about COVID-19 treatment options.
“We need to safeguard the end consumer and empower the doctor and pharmacist with the tools to do just that,” Wozniak said.
FedEx Office's national network allows pharmaceutical companies to order printed products on demand and distribute them nationwide on tight timelines. In response to targeted misinformation campaigns, the speedy delivery of quality printed materials allows the healthcare industry to quickly disseminate accurate information to counter false messaging.
Creating messaging with staying power
Print is tactile; it allows readers to consider information, fostering understanding and building trust. Moreover, brochures, posters and postcards can be hung or handed out in medical clinics and pharmacies and read multiple times, increasing the odds they will be remembered.
“In general, it’s easier to discard or omit electronic communications because there’s so much of it,” Wozniak said. “Pharmaceutical companies are seeing the benefit of physical collateral as an important part of their marketing approach.”
Not only do people spend more time reading print ads and are more likely to remember them, but research shows that print ads generate a 20% higher response and 77% better brand recall than digital.
When it comes to sharing information, Wozniak noted, pharmaceutical companies often take a hybrid approach, combining printed and digital materials.
“It’s such a big risk within pharma and healthcare if you’re not controlling the whole scope of how your information gets out,” he added.
Regardless of how information is shared, FedEx Office is committed to getting it right, working with customers to customize solutions that meet their unique needs.
Learn more about what’s possible for your pharmaceutical company by requesting a consultation with FedEx Office.