Are patient stories, experiences & testimonials a good thing? 

Much has been made lately regarding the use of patient stories, experiences, and testimonials when it comes to the efficacy of various therapies or wellness products. Many in the healthcare field widely promote their ideas that patient stories and testimonials should not be used or listened to because they are not evidence. I would say that they are certainly not the best form of evidence when it comes to healthcare choices, but to dismiss them entirely is foolhardy. I get wonderful stories, experiences and testimonials from people all of the time. I find it very gratifying to get heartfelt thanks from people who achieve their health goals. Many criticize me because of the large quantity of positive stories, experiences and testimonies I get from clients.

In the current social media environment of mass information, patient stories, experiences and testimonies are a highly valuable tool to share with potential clients, unless your practice, clinic or business does not have any to share. When you have lots of honest patient and client stories, they are a way of letting prospective clients and patients know what others have said about you. We should never forget that the healthcare industry is a business. At the root of the healthcare business are healthcare decisions, which are in essence a sale, and the healthcare industry sells its time to whomever can afford it. Don’t believe it? Try to get an appointment and be seen by a doctor if you don’t have insurance or the ability to pay. My clinic was the only one I know of that never charged patients for visits, exams, consults, ultrasounds or basic procedures. Patient or client stories, experiences, testimonials and reviews are widely viewed as a valuable tool to soften the sales process when a healthcare business is presenting its’ service or product to potential patients and clients. Healthcare marketing companies know very well that facts tell but it’s the stories that sell.

 

For example, a perspective patient or family that is looking into a gamma knife procedure isn’t typically motivated with all the facts like the use of 60Cobalt as the radiation source. They aren’t usually swayed in their decision-making process by the the fact that 60Cobalt (60Co) decays through beta decay into a stable isotope of nickel (60Ni) with a half-life of 5.26 years. Their decision isn’t usually made based upon the facts about internal and external beam collimation, the facts about the composite isocenters, the facts regarding the automated shielding or the facts about stereotactic head frames. What they will typically concern themselves with are the patient stories, experiences and testimonials of people just like them or a loved one who went through the gamma knife procedure and have reported a favorable result.

 

Recently, a survey demonstrated that that 84% of consumers are just as likely to trust an online review as a personal recommendation.

 

In the healthcare sector, 72% of patients surveyed said that positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a business/ practice more.

 

Patient stories are a great way for someone to get the perspective of others who might have had the same health situation during their decision-making process. For example, if a person has lung cancer and their spouse sees a positive patient experience story from a lung cancer patient at a big hospital, it may influence that healthcare buying decision.

 

Patient stories are a great way of demonstrating to the audience that a hospital, clinic, or physician can touch the lives of people compassionately through their skills or abilities. The decision of purchasing health products or healthcare services is at its’ core, an emotional decision.

 

This is the primary reason why thousands of hospitals, clinics, dentists, cosmetic surgeons, fertility clinics and numerous others use patient stories, experiences, and testimonials to appeal to perspective clients. They’re seeking to attract additional clients and patients as a result of these stories, and it’s widely known that patient stories, experiences and testimonials are one of the most powerful ways to earn trust and attract new clients or patients in the medical field.

 

In the United States, all companies have the requirement to comply with truth-in-advertising standards and that includes businesses where client/patient stories are being presented. Marketers of dietary supplements are required to comply with truth-in-advertising standards which is why I ensure that my website has all the proper legal jargon and required disclaimers to ensure compliance.

 

The Widespread Use of Testimonials & Patient Stories

There are thousands of healthcare organizations that provide patient testimonials on their websites I will demonstrate a few here. The links shown below have not been cherry picked, or edited to twist or alter the meaning or the intention of the medical institutions concerned. U.S. News and World Report lists the Best Hospitals for Cancer in the United States. (1)

 

Here I’ll share several of the best Hospitals from their list AND their patient testimonials pages.

 

#1 University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, (21,700 employees)

https://www.mdanderson.org/patients-family/diagnosis-treatment/care-centers-clinics/proton-therapy-center/meet-our-survivors.html

AND

https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise.html

 

#2 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY (14,453 employees)

https://www.mskcc.org/experience/hear-from-patients

 

#3 Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN (63,000 employees)

https://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-stories/cancer

 

#4 Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD (30,000 employees)

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/cancers_we_treat/colorectal_cancer/patient_stories/

 

#5 Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH (68,700 employees worldwide)

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/patient-stories/cancer-care

 

#6 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA (4,855 employees)

https://www.dana-farber.org/for-patients-and-families/why-dana-farber/patient-stories/

 

#7 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA (14,121 employees)

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/cancer/during-treatment/stories.html

 

#8 Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL (7,000 employees)

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/patient-stories

 

#9 Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle, WA (1,200 employees)

https://www.seattlecca.org/patients/blog

 

#10 UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, CA (12.000 employees)

https://www.ucsfhealth.org/patient-stories

 

So, each of the top 10 cancer hospitals in the U.S. are using patient stories/ testimonials in their promotional efforts. They do this because it is an effective means of communicating their therapeutic competence to a large audience. Is anyone complaining about that?

 

Let’s see what they do in Australia

In this article, Newsweek magazine highlighted the best hospitals in Australia. How many of them are using patient stories/ testimonials? (2) 

 

#1 Royal Melbourne Hospital – Parkville, Melbourne (10,400 employees)

 

#2 The Alfred Hospital – Melbourne (9,872 employees)

https://www.alfredhealth.org.au/services/cardiology/patient-stories

 

#3 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital – Brisbane (8,000 employees)

https://metronorth.health.qld.gov.au/rbwh/healthcare-services/epilepsy/patient-stories

 

#4 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital – Sydney (2,600 employees)

 

#5 St. Vincent’s Hospital – Melbourne (5,000 employees)

https://www.facebook.com/StVincentsHospitalMelb/videos/601845843976755/

 

#6 Royal North Shore Hospital – Sydney (5,000 employees)

https://www.facebook.com/RoyalNorthShore/videos/1404214843016083/

#7 Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Cancer Centre – Perth (employee total unknown)

 

#8 Gold Coast University Hospital – Gold Coast (8,900 employees)

https://www.facebook.com/GCHealth/videos/470998143427029/

https://www.facebook.com/GCHealth/videos/2182056768723189/

https://www.facebook.com/GCHealth/videos/312121216768329/

#9 The Prince Charles Hospital – Brisbane (3,200 employees)

https://metronorth.health.qld.gov.au/tpch/healthcare-services/cardiology/patient-stories

 

#10 Princess Alexandra Hospital – Brisbane (5,500 employees)

 

#11 St Vincent’s Hospital – Sydney (1,200 employees)

https://www.facebook.com/StVincentsHospitalSydney/videos/247754891

 

#12 Westmead Hospital – Sydney (11,855 employees in all 4 locations)

https://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/WNH/Additional-resources/Patient-stories

AND

https://www.facebook.com/westmeadkids/videos/10155518588662608/

https://www.facebook.com/westmeadkids/videos/241406166887108/

https://www.facebook.com/westmeadkids/videos/147099550363595/

 

#13 Monash Medical Center – Melbourne (employee total unknown)

https://www.monashheart.org.au/index.php/for-patients/patient-stories/

 

#14 Austin Hospital – Melbourne (5,900 employees across all facilities)

https://www.facebook.com/AustinHealth/videos/2127658943926994/

 

#15 Prince of Wales Hospital – Sydney (3,000 employees)

https://www.facebook.com/powhf/videos/1345861125500826/

 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists

 

So, in the United States and Australia, the best hospitals listed use patient stories and testimonials to promote their services despite having hundreds of thousands of employees who would probably give really good word-of-mouth advertising for them. I find it curious that nobody is complaining about that or criticizing it.

 

The Philippines

What about patient stories, experiences and testimonials in the Philippines? I actually saw a foreigner (who doesn’t live in the Philippines) asking for legislation to ban the practice of patient stories in the Philippines!? Why the Philippines? Why not in the U.S. or even Australia? Truth be known, only a few of the top Philippines’ hospitals have patient stories, experiences or testimonials as opposed to ALL of the top hospitals in the U.S. and Australia that are listed above. It appears that patient stories and testimonies are a far more prevalent marketing tool in the U.S. and Australia than in the Philippines.

 

St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City (4,300 employees)

https://www.stlukes.com.ph/patients-and-visitors/patient-testimonials?idcs=1

 

 

St. Luke’s published a book of patient stories.

https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/293786/st-lukes-medical-center-launches-new-book-medical-achievements-patient-stories/

 

Asian Hospital & Medical Center (1,000 employees)

https://www.asianhospital.com/category/my-asian-story

 

The Medical City – Manila (1,500 physicians)

https://www.themedicalcity.com/institutes/augusto-p-sarmiento-cancer-institute/patient-stories

 

National Kidney and Transplant Institute

https://nkti.gov.ph/index.php/patients-and-visitors/patient-testimonials

 

Vision Therapy Philippines

https://www.visiontherapyphilippines.com/patient-testimonials/

 

Center for Optimum Rejuvenation

https://www.corephilippines.com/testimonials/

 

In summary, when a health business incorporates patient/client stories or testimonials, they can demonstrate an emotional appeal to attract additional qualified potential clients. But, if you choose to use client and patient stories (testimonials) as part of promoting your business, honesty and legal compliance are a must.  

 

Here’s a few tips regarding the use of patient stories, experiences and testimonials

  1. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make wild, misleading, outlandish or unsubstantiated claims about a product or procedure being a cure-all or panacea for wide varieties of illnesses. For example, I have never claimed my products are a cure for any illness. I’ve never promised or implied a cure for any patient. People will often hear what they want to hear, but don’t be the person saying such nonsense. 

     

  2. If you make claims like “this person followed the treatment protocol to the letter”, make sure they did. A patient story can really lose credibility if there are numerous contradicting parts of the story or outright falsehoods manufactured into the narrative to fool people. Manufacturing false narratives is a great recipe to get into legal troubles so just keep it honest. 

     

  3. If you promote yourself as a fitness or health expert and wish to do the popular getting fit types of testimonial videos, you should make sure that the people in your story actually do get fit and are using the products you sell. 

     

  4. Regarding medical opinions in your client stories, stick to verifiable facts, and be prepared to present peer-reviewed science to support those opinions. Also, make sure that you’re credentialed in the area where you’re offering your opinion. Presenting medical opinions without peer-reviewed science to back them up or a lack of training, credentials, or experience to substantiate them are some of the hallmarks of medical “saviors” or health “messiahs”. Stick to documentable and verifiable facts without misleading people. When you put things online, there are always people who may analyze everything you’ve ever said or written so be very mindful of that. 

     

  5. Don’t be a know it all. Understand that there may be some areas of health you don’t know. Be humble enough to accept that. Nowadays it’s a big shell game of who we’re supposed to listen to, with some claiming indisputable knowledge in ALL areas of health, life, law and even business in order to sell themselves to an unwitting public as “experts” to market their products and services, even though they don’t have a documentable track record of therapeutic success.

Build your health business the right way, always be honest and rely on critical thinking skills.

 

You don’t want to run afoul of truth-in-advertising standards because countries like the Unites States and Australia have laws about such things. We should always operate businesses in a compliant way, and if you use stories, experiences or testimonials, it is a great idea to use an easily seen disclaimer like this one below for full disclosure and protection.

 

Patient/ Client Stories Disclaimer   

In accordance with truth-in-advertising guidelines concerning use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, be aware of the following: All Patient/ Client Stories (testimonials) appearing on this site were collected and recorded via text submission, email text, other online text or interview in the Philippines unless otherwise noted. They are individual experiences, reflecting the real-life experiences of those that have chosen to follow lifestyle modification protocols authored by Dr. Farrah™ at the Dr. Farrah™ Natural Medical Center in the Philippines. 

However, the results that they share are individual results and since individuals are different, all individual results may widely vary. We do not claim that they are typical results that people have had or will generally achieve. The Patient/ Client Stories (testimonials) are not necessarily representative of those who had been patients at Dr. Farrah™ Natural Medical Center in the Philippines. The Patient/ Client Stories (testimonials) presented on this website are applicable to the individuals who wrote them or appeared without compensation in them and may not be indicative of past health or future outcomes for anyone. Dr. Farrah™ cannot and does not guarantee specific health outcome metrics for anyone with any health condition, nor has she ever done so at any time. The Patient/ Client Stories (testimonials) displayed (text, audio, and/or video) have been shown in near entirety except for the correction of video, audio, production, grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened, so that the whole message received by the testimonial writer is not displayed. This is done only when a testimonial/ story is lengthy, or if the entire testimonial/ story did not seem relevant for the general public.

Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. 

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational and research purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting upon any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have any medical condition.

References:

  1. https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/cancer

2. https://www.newsweek.com/best-hospitals-2020/australia

 

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