Many of us have decades of healthcare marketing experience, but sometimes we know too much. We’ve had too many detailed conversations with extremely knowledgeable and experienced clinical experts. We’ve heard the best—and the worst—possible outcomes, but we also know that innovations and state-of-the-art advancements in healthcare can make all the difference in treatment outcomes.
As we plan, write and review digital content, we provide the detail for a wide range of audiences to better understand specific services and capabilities. With web content, for example, we explain the clinical approach to diagnosis and treatment, as well as an organization’s philosophy of care. We explain the science of medicine and the way in which that medical care is delivered. But, we have to remember that understanding healthcare is not second nature to most—and many factors affect healthcare choices. Our job is to help the undecided—those that don’t know where to turn for a routine healthcare decision or a more complex choice.
To share the “why” is our dedicated focus—why any audience would choose one organization over another for their healthcare needs—and why the benefits of that choice will make a difference.
Our family has experienced health crises over the years—some all too current and frightening. And what we continue to do is seek the doctors with the most experience and knowledge. We learn what we can about the specific condition and ask about the latest advancements in care. Our goal is to find the organization that delivers the services we need with the greatest chance of optimal outcomes. We make sure we find the team that is able to better minimize the risks because their organization keeps patient safety a primary focus. Yet, we still don’t know the answers or the outcomes, but we do know we’ve done what we can to find the information that can help make the most informed decision to improve our loved one’s health.
As you sit down to write your next piece of healthcare-related content, consider these four recommendations.
- Put yourself in that state-of-mind when you review the words that touch your audiences. Is the content current, relevant and helpful? Is your language understandable and easy to read? While medical terminology increases the reading level generally, using the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests as a guide can help your audiences better understand the information. This in and of itself can be a challenge. We are constantly scrutinized for reading levels when writing clinical web copy. While the target for web copy is an 8th grade reading level, clinical terminology—with more syllables per word—significantly affects your score. Our team conducted a study and by removing the clinical terminology from a range of content examples, the average reading level came down 4 grade levels. Now, it’s rather difficult to write heart and vascular web copy without using words like cardiovascular, electrophysiology and cardiovascular rehabilitation, but try using fewer words per sentence. These two things – number of syllables and number of words per sentence—are the only core measures that affect your score.
- Clearly communicate the strengths of your care. How many times has a subject matter expert (SME) told you—“We do everything our competitor does, but we don’t tell anyone!” Tell your story—your expertise, your innovations and your successes. We like to say at MERGE Atlanta, “You innovate. We’ll tell the world!” Sometimes you just need a little help putting your great stories into copy.
- Align your content with important and recent national initiatives—many that are already receiving strong attention. Are your organization’s research and quality initiatives aligned with national conversations—such as the opioid epidemic? Find champions within your organization to tell you about important and timely updates. In most cases, healthcare marketers need champions across every area to keep you informed of recent advances and clinical innovations. Align with those that will tell you sooner than later about recent improvements in care.
- Present content that is clear and easy to find. Digital content is ever-evolving and can be overwhelming to review on a regular basis. Plan a strategic approach—methodically reviewing section by section and you’ll get there. And know that your efforts are appreciated—especially by those that are sitting in an ICU room in the middle of the night—looking for answers and reassurance.