Three ways to improve your healthcare content writing: there’s an ART to it

If your business is healthcare content writing, you’re likely in demand. The concept of ‘health’ pervades every aspect of our lives, public and private. And health information is big business.

Before the onset of COVID-19, the worldwide medical communications industry was worth around 1.35 billion dollars. With digital health and technology transforming the industry as we speak, this number is expected to grow (1).

We are talking big bucks.

Still, as most healthcare content writers know, every time a new article or blog post – any form of health content, really – is written and sent on its merry way, you’re adding to a very large crowd of voices.

Voices that really want to be heard.

Do you want to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons? Read on to find out the true ‘art’ to healthcare content writing.

‘Health’ defined

According to the World Health Organisation, health is by definition ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing – not simply the absence of disease or infirmity’ (2). Sounds like something worth aiming for.

In a recent study, some 77% of participants (n=1000) stated they use the internet for health purposes (3). And interest in the internet as a communication tool for health-related information is growing apace (4). Healthcare content writing is clearly going somewhere.

Many people (myself included) are looking for the proverbial ‘secret’ – to healthy days, to sleep-full nights, to long life. To finding balance – mental, physical and social.

And they are looking online.

If we, as health communicators, do it right, we can cut through the noise – we can help!

But hear this, healthcare content writers… it really is important we do it right.

The ART of healthcare content writing: three tips to remember

So, is there an easy way to ensure our healthcare content writing is consistently high-quality, credible, and useful?

Well, yes. There’s an ART to it.

Audience

First, consider the audience. Yes, the fundamentals apply here too!  Let’s carefully and deliberately think about who we are talking to, in order to produce content that is useful, with a clear purpose for the identified audience.

How do we do this?

As with all forms of copywriting, we need to answer some basic ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions:

  • Who – are they?

First, work out who your audience is – seems obvious, no?!

Are you writing for the general public, for patients with a specific condition, for healthcare professionals, or perhaps another technical audience? Each of these audiences may well be interested in what you have to say, but each will require a different approach to telling your story.

You’ll also want to consider the demographic of your audience – age, location, gender, job titles are all worth considering, as well as general education levels and health literacy. All of these can vary widely.

And remember, the audience you have on LinkedIn is going to be quite different to your audience on Instagram, or Facebook, or your blog.

  • How – should we speak to our audience?

Once we know who our audience is, it’s vital we think about how we speak to them. The language we use. That means careful choice of each word and phrase.

In most instances, writing in plain language will be the preferable choice. To write in plain language means to choose the simplest, most straightforward way of expressing an idea. In healthcare, this is particularly important – where health is at stake, we always want people to understand what we are saying.

Think about whether the audience can understand what they’re reading first time – if they can, it’s probably pitched about right! If you’ve included lots of meaningless jargon, your content is likely not written in ‘plain’ language and may not be understandable to the very people you want to read it. Even healthcare professionals might not understand your ‘jargon’.

  • What – do they already know and what do they need to know?

Work out what your identified audience already knows and what your content is going to tell them. Are you teaching them something new? Get straight to it.

Make sure you don’t fall foul of the short attention span (we all have one…).

Research

Next, do your research.

All healthcare writing should be underpinned by thorough research. All competent medical and healthcare writers know this.

When writing about medicines, healthcare, or science, desk research, followed by more in-depth literature searching, is always a good place to start – before pen hits paper.

An enormous amount of scientific information is available in the public domain, in the form of journals, books, and within databases (like Medline, EMBASE, PubMed). Keep in mind what you are looking for, plan your strategy with relevant key words – then identify authentic, up-to-date (within the last 5 years, ideally more recent) sources that may be relevant to your work.

A good place to start is Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/): a simple way to search broadly for literature across a variety of disciplines.

Timeliness

Finally, make the communication timely.

  • We know who we are talking to, what they need to know and how to speak to them.
  • We’ve done our research.
  • Now we must ensure we make our information available in a timely manner, so that audiences have the information they need, when they need it.

In the medical and healthcare world, things change very quickly. New research is being conducted all the time. New medicines are coming to market. Patients, healthcare professionals and the public need information – now – to inform appropriate decision-making.

Need help with your healthcare content writing?

You need someone who:

  • Knows your audience and can speak to them in language that makes sense
  • Knows how to produce well-researched, credible content
  • Knows the importance of speaking to your audience’s needs – today.

With more than a decade of experience writing about health, medicines, and science, I can help you get it right.

Get in touch today using the CONTACT form above or click to find out more about my experience over the past decade of writing about health, science and medicines.

References

  1. Grand View Research. Clinical Communication & Collaboration Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Deployment (Hosted, On-premise), By Component (Solution, Services), By End Use, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2020 – 2027. Available here: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/clinical-communication-collaboration-market
  2. World Health Organization. Constitution. Available here: https://www.who.int/about/governance/constitution#:~:text=Health%20is%20a%20state%20of,absence%20of%20disease%20or%20infirmity.
  3. Bujnowska-Fedak, et al. The Internet as a Source of Health Information and Services. Available here: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/5584_2019_396
  4. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Technical Report – A literature review on health information-seeking behaviour on the web: a health consumer and health professional perspective. Available here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/media/en/publications/Publications/Literature%20review%20on%20health%20information-seeking%20behaviour%20on%20the%20web.pdf
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