Posted on: March 27, 2020
By Greg Glynn, APR
COVID-19 reminded the world about the importance of the healthcare industry. It also showcases the need for reliable information from credible and trusted sources. Now more than ever, we are relying on information from a wide range of sources, including the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. There are also several healthcare providers and organizations that share content about a wide range of health-related subjects regularly.
Healthcare and medical terms can sometimes feel like a second language. The amount of information and resources for patients online can be overwhelming especially when there might be conflicting information. Plus, every patient is different and there are many variables based on the individual’s needs, previous health conditions, medications, diet and some much more. So how should health care providers tackle some of the most complex content on the Internet? Let’s start with these eight tips for producing healthcare content.
1. Showcase your experts
When it comes to online content, visitors to your website or your e-newsletter need to trust the source. When possible, it is always best to put the doctor’s name and photo with the content. This allows the reader to see who wrote the article. Even better, produce a video featuring the doctor or expert talking about the content.
2. Build trust with your audience
Simply writing one article on a medical topic, like COVID-19 or any health condition, isn’t enough to build trust with an audience. In many cases, readers will want to find more information online from the same doctor or in media interviews about the specific medical topic that they are researching. To build trust, you need to create content. It doesn’t need to be dozens of pages of content or long videos, the content should be very targeted on a specific topic and easy to understand. If you produce content using terminology that the average person can’t understand, they won’t be able to trust you.
3. Share success stories
While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents sharing information about actual patients, that doesn’t mean you can’t share success stories through testimonials from patients by changing their names to protect their privacy.
4. Annual Reports establish credibility for your organization
We work with The Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine. This organization offers free, easily accessible and evidence-based education to Maine health care professionals and the communities they serve through an innovative partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and an ongoing collaboration with Maine’s health care community.
Each year, they produce an annual report that details the work they have done throughout the previous year, most notably, the progress made on their individual programs focusing on oral health in older adults, unhealthy alcohol use and nursing preceptorships. The information included provides valuable information to their audiences, from the board to donors to the health care providers involved in carrying out their programs across Maine. Annual reports are a great way to highlight accomplishments and outline a path forward that’s easy for people to digest.
5. Link to other articles or resources from your content
If your article relates to other healthcare topics or information, it is a great idea to link to other content about the topic so that readers can access more information about it. This is also good from a content perspective because it allows you to link (using URLs) which can help with SEO and by referring to other content on a topic it helps keep your content shorter.
Here is a good example of how Lunder-Dineen has done that:
6. Create an online media kit
One of the best ways to get your content seen or heard by thousands or millions of people is to have the media interview your organization or healthcare providers on their areas of expertise. We help health care clients create an online media kit that features the best of the best content from their doctor or healthcare professionals. The healthcare media kit should include popular articles, story ideas and headshots of the people that produced the content. It would also be best to show the person in a video, so TV news stations can see the expert’s presence on camera. This often can give you the advantage of securing the interview with a major media outlet on a topic compared to another resource that might not have a sample video interview. Here is an example of a media kit we produced for a documentary with The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital.
7. Keep measurement in mind from the start
Producing content is a lot of work, whether it is an article, podcast interview or online video. If you are going to create the content, you have to be able to measure the impact and know the results you are getting. This will help to showcase you as a content producer or show your organization what content is most popular so you can spend more time on the content people are most interested in.
You should have Google Analytics set up on your website so you can see which outside websites people are visiting in order to find your content (called referral traffic) and also what pages are most popular on your site (Google can rank each page of your website based on site visits). For example, if you wrote an article titled “What is keto?” and it only had 100 page visits compared to another article you wrote about how to lower blood pressure that had thousands of visits, you would be able to see what your audience is looking for. From this example, think about your content and what questions people often ask in your doctor’s office or at your health organization, in meetings or over the phone, and start producing content to answer those popular questions and content areas first. You should also be measuring other metrics including office visits, phone calls, referrals, etc.
8. Media coverage and results
Media relations and media pitching can be a very successful approach to generate online content about your medical experts and your content. As part of our work with The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, we helped identify newsworthy topics about mental health to pitch to local, national and international media. One example of our creative experience with media pitching was tying the historic number of hurricanes in 2017 to mental health.
We suggested to the doctors at The Clay Center that we pitch media about the anxiety children have in the recent hurricane regions and around the country. Dr. Gene Beresin agreed that this is something that would be important to talk about and address for children and their families. To secure national exposure, we used Twitter to reach out to Jim Cantore, host of the morning show AMHQ on the Weather Channel.
After receiving the tweet, a producer from the Weather Channel reached out to schedule the interview via Skype on the morning show. In addition to that interview, we established the team of doctors at The Clay Center as a great resource for any family and mental health related topics about the weather. The Clay Center continues to get requests from the Weather Channel to do more interviews. Media results contribute to more people becoming aware of your organization and content. Web page URLs to the media website pages with the media story or interview are also great for search engine optimization.
Overall, healthcare content needs to be clear and also consistent. Producing content on a regular basis using a content calendar is the best way to communicate with your target audiences and build trust as an important and reliable resource for timely and relevant information.