Authenticity in Healthcare Communications

Authenticity as a buzzword needs to die. I’m going to kill it. Love is my gun. So sit back and watch.

During the last Webinar that Health Is Social hosted, an attendee asked a great question about authenticity in communications with patients online. But there are times when the word Authenticity is used and I’d like to address that.

We all want authentic communications – it’s sort of one of those things you just expect. Who wants you to be Inauthentic?

But I don’t think healthcare communicators should worry too much about how to reconcile a professional/corporate personal with Authenticity.

What?! OMG – you can’t be serious!

Hold up – this is what I mean. People want all sorts of things – value, honesty, feedback, information, resources, support, humor… When they deal with an organizational representative, for the most part they understand that they’re working with someone who is playing a role. It’s OK to play a role – doctors play roles, nurses play roles, leaders play roles.

It’s when the roles people play hide things or divert attention that communications and trust break down.


If your interactions with people are honest and clear and helpful, you don’t have to worry about authenticity. In fact, the more focused you are on being authentic, the less authentic you’ll be. Why? Because authenticity becomes a goal onto itself rather than a natural consequence of everything else you do.

Here’s an illustration of this phenomenon. Read the following sentence, pause for a moment and do exactly as it requests: Don’t think of pink elephants prancing in tutus! You thought of pink elephants prancing in tutus just now, didn’t you? Some things you just can’t command – Authenticity is one of those things. Make sense?

When consumers interact with you and you give them what they’re looking for (whatever it is), I doubt very much they go home and say: Hey honey, I had a great back-and-forth online with ABC Company today. I got everything that I needed from them – great customer service, sincerity, empathy and useful information…but I’m devastated because I just don’t think they were authentic.

In the same way, when most people speak highly of you, the most common things they say probably don’t include “Wow, she was authentic! She was really authentic!”. Who talks like that? No, they’re going to talk about what you did for them.

I think Authenticity may be a misleading thing to worry about in online communications. Sincerity is probably a better term. You might care about appearing or being authentic, but I don’t really care. Basically, I want you to be honest and useful.


Ever love somebody? If so, were you worried about being authentic? Or did you just love?

Healthcare – and the communications that weave within and orbit it – need a lot of love in addition to hard work.

Love? Sounds corny. No place in business. Not a Healthcare term.

OK. BUT: If you hate communicating, do you think you’ll communicate well or turn off those who you need?

On the other hand, if you love communicating, don’t you think you’ll turn on the people whom you need to tune in?

Authenticity in Healthcare communications is what happens when you do all of the hard work of serving your informational customers.

If you don’t love what you do, authenticity isn’t your biggest problem, is it?

Not everybody loves what they do. Which means: you have an edge over them.



Love is the ultimate competitive avantage.


Our next Webinar will touch on Authenticity. Sign up here!

0 Replies to “Authenticity in Healthcare Communications”

  1. Phil
    I agree that “being authentic” cannot be mandated. It has to be in your blood an I suspect the term more suited to healthcare is “genuine” or perhaps, depending on the circumstance, “caring”.

    With respect to SocialMedia, the thing most marketers are wrestling with is how do i use this mdim to drive sales. Sales/Advertising does not sometimes offer the opportunity to be “genuine” or “caring”, but I suspect we in healthcare have that luxury.

    FDA in the USA demands that we be “genuine”. Don’t make claims about a product it is not indicated for, make sure the fair balance is there etc. Can we be caring too ? Can we give without receiving ? Can we say “hey, this is a great ting, I think you should see it cos I know you are my friend and I wanted to share it with you cos I care ?

    And will that drive people to ask their doctor for my product ?

    Not sure.


    1. Great points and questions, Ritesh.

      That’s why argue that the focus shouldn’t be on trying to be authentic, but rather doing the things that matter most to people.

      Pharma certainly has it the hardest. But even there, it’s about being useful and honest.

      Attempts to be authentic and genuine usually end up having the opposite effect.

      Better to invest time and attention to figuring out how to do all the other things.


  2. Hmm. Provocative post Phil. Some great thoughts. In any other industry but pharma. Authentic and genuine, honesty, integrity – all those things you are talking about that should be second nature – simply don’t sell drugs. Sure, on the surface, pharma is about caring and providing information, but there’s always a ‘but,’ ulterior motive. In healthcare in general, I agree that authenticity or whatever the word is, should be second nature and just “be.” Pharma has a long way to go, and a lot of other things to worry about, before they can even think authenticity.

  3. Great Post Phil,
    The thing about “work” and on being “online” to novices in the field, often has the same effect as when a camera is put on you for the first time: “OMG, I am watched, I need to do well”. And in so doing, people loose their spontaneity, and “over” do it. People watching notice this. They see people overplay their role. Same effect as in writing your first blog, tweet etc.
    Remedy: practice like stage artists do. The best spontaneous and authentic performers know to how that. 😉
    Thx, Rob

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *