As Further Leaks Continue and New Fears about the Safety of Fish and the Food Supply Emerge, Doctors Can Play a Direct Role in Educating American Consumers
Seattle, Wash — Avvo (www.avvo.com), the world’s largest online directory for doctors and lawyers, today is reaching out to physicians to provide them with specific tips on how to best communicate with patients who may be fearful about the continued news of more serious radiation leaks emanating from Japan’s damaged nuclear power facility – and offer accurate, credible information to diffuse unnecessary concerns. In the wake of the devastating events in Japan and the ensuing nuclear crisis, worry among Americans has been mounting with regard to potential domestic health implications – especially now with regard to, not only air quality issues, but the safety of fish and other food products imported to the U.S. Ultimately, it will be incumbent on the physician community to allay these fears – and provide the right, accurate information to the public as the issues either escalate or de-escalate. To make this process more simple for medical practitioners, Avvo is advising doctors on the best and easiest ways to open up appropriate communication channels.
Avvo recommends that doctors utilize several different Web and social media tools to reach out to patients with a brief statement that clearly assesses the real medical issues surrounding the radiation scare – and provides not only their personal evaluation of the situation but also the reassurance to the public that they will have a future channel to turn to for information from a practitioner whom they know and trust. This specific communication might be delivered via the following:
- A posting on the doctor’s Facebook page or website with a radiation scare “reality check”
- A brief, one-paragraph overview on the situation (assessing real and imagined dangers) on the doctor’s blog (if he or she has an active blog)
- The utilization of RSS technology to distribute news to interested patients who are subscribers to their newsfeed
- A posting on Twitter to direct followers to their blog or website containing broader information
- A direct-to-patient email communiqué that simply offers reassurance and lists other available national information resources
- Use of Avvo.com as a public information source where doctors can pen Health Guides (free “how to” articles written by contributing physicians) for consumers that address salient health concerns, or participate for in a Q&A forum to answer individual patient questions
“The number one thing that doctors can do during a potential health crisis – whether it’s this current radiation scare, SARS, or H1N1 – is to be there for their patients and deliver the pertinent information to address consumers’ questions,” explains Mark Britton, founder and CEO of Avvo. “There is nothing that will build loyalty and trust between a doctor and his constituency like simple answers to questions that naturally provoke anxiety among the lay public. When doctors are busy running a daily practice, providing these answers in a timely manner can be difficult. To this end, we want to help doctors by offering them the knowledge about easy tools they can leverage to establish better communication with their patient basis. During troubled times, the Web and social media achieve this goal in an absolutely unparalleled, no-cost, low-time commitment way.”
In addition to the above tactics, Avvo also counsels doctors – who have the appropriate background – to make themselves available as expert medical sources to the media, who will ultimately serve as the most prevalent direct information source for the public.
Britton adds that when local media don’t have credible medical practitioners to turn to during a health crisis, “they risk delivering inaccurate or over-hyped information to consumers – and that’s where a public paranoia, that is totally unwarranted and non-factual, can develop.” He adds that this tipping point – when not properly managed – can create an “unwarranted health crisis that can spread like wildfire to the detriment of patients and healthcare practitioners alike, if not tempered with the quick dissemination of accurate information to counter concerns.”
Avvo advises doctors to consider offering their educated opinions for local Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to air through broadcast channels or in printed media to help set the record straight about the realistic issues surrounding the radiation emitting from the Fukushima Daichii nuclear complex – whatever that information may be, as the situation evolves, to ensure accurate medical sourcing.
Through these channels and through the use of effective social media tactics, doctors – collectively – can reach a broad stratum of the American public and deflate unnecessary paranoia. In addition to the obvious public service benefit that better communication from the medical sector can achieve during periods of uncertainty, Britton adds: “In calmer times, a doctor’s patients will remember if he or she took the time and effort to keep them informed and it will make a lasting impact on the solidity of that physician-patient relationship.”
For more information on how doctors can establish a direct dialog with their patients on the radiation issue in particular, physicians can visit Avvo.com and contact company leadership through the Web site to obtain free counsel on additional recommended tactics they can undertake immediately.
Avvo is the largest and only free website that empowers consumers to handle their medical and legal matters with confidence. Avvo offers free ratings and profiles for 90% of practicing lawyers and 90% of licensed MDs in the U.S. This includes the editorial Avvo Rating, patient and client reviews and peer endorsements as well as experience, background information, industry achievements and disciplinary records. Avvo also offers a free Question and Answer forum, where consumers can ask questions and receive certified answers from certified doctors and lawyers. Additionally, Avvo Legal Guides and Avvo Health Guides are free research tools, written as how-to articles covering everyday issues authored by certified lawyers and doctors. Founded in early 2006 and launched in 2007, Avvo is privately held, with funding from private investors, Benchmark Capital, Ignition Partners and DAG Ventures. For more information, visit www.avvo.com.