Every month or so, I receive an email jam-packed with tips and proactive ideas to help create a healthier me. You would think this information-filled email came from my health care provider, but it doesn’t—it comes from my pharmacy—Walgreens.

A matter of trust

Being in the health care marketing and communication business, I realize Walgreens sends me these regular emails because it ultimately wants me to buy a product at my local store. But what this consistent contact is doing is creating a relationship of trust between the chain store and me.

When it comes to my health, wouldn’t I naturally trust my health care provider more than a retail chain?

You would think so. But right now, I have more of an affinity for Walgreens. Yeah, Walgreens definitely cares more about me because they engage with me more. Every time I get one of those emails, I get a feeling that my best interests are being looked after by a retail giant. Hmm, something is wrong here.

Why wouldn’t my provider want to be the trusted leader in helping me be healthier?

We recently did research on why patients switch providers. One of the questions we asked was: How interested are you in having your local health care provider help you be healthier every day?

40% of the people we surveyed told us they wanted their local health care provider to help them be healthier.

We also asked which sources people trusted most for their everyday health and fitness information and:

73% of respondents said given the choice, their local provider was their most trusted source for daily health and fitness information.

Why trust is so important

There is nothing more sacred than the trust we place in those who provide us with physical and mental health services. David A. Shore, founder of the Trust Initiative of Harvard School of Public Health and author of The Trust Prescription for Healthcare, Building Your Reputation with Consumers, argues that “having a reputation as a trusted provider is good medicine and good business.”

A recent study in PLoS One titled Trust in the health care professional and health outcomes: A meta-analysis, revealed that “from a clinical perspective, patients reported more beneficial health behaviors, fewer symptoms, higher quality of life, and to be more satisfied with treatment when they had higher trust in their health care professional.”

How are you communicating with the people you want to trust you?

Maybe you have an e-newsletter. What is it filled with? Is it serving the needs of the people you are communicating with or is it selling service lines? Are the stories you’re telling in your newsletter compelling or are they a sales tool?

Even though I know that Walgreens wants me to shop at my nearest store, the information I receive in each e-newsletter is not overtly self-serving. It is useful and timely. That’s what makes me feel like the store cares about me. It’s also what makes me want to reciprocate by choosing Walgreens when I need a prescription filled or when I need to stop for a card or shampoo on my way home from work.

Showing you care and gaining health care e-newsletter subscribers

Do you get e-newsletters? Which blogs do you read regularly? (We’re hoping you say this one.) What do you enjoy about the newsletters and blogs that come to your inbox?

  • The first thing that probably grabs your attention is the subject line. It spoke to you at the right moment and you opened the email.
  • Next, the design was crisp, easy to read, and there may have been a picture or two.
  • You started reading and the content was good. It kept you interested and you may have passed a tip or two on to a friend, family member or co-worker.

That’s the kind of e-newsletter you should be producing—the kind that, like Walgreens, reminds the people in your market that you are benevolent and a trusted resource they can turn to for their physical and mental well-being.

So, let’s start a relationship

Our research shows that people want their health care provider to help them become healthier and that their provider is their most trusted source for the health and fitness information they are seeking. You want to be the health care provider in your market that people trust the most with their care. So, let’s get a blog or an e-newsletter in their inbox that shows them that you care about them more than Walgreens does.