Gone are the days when patients would ask a doctor for a referral and make a phone call to get their appointment set up. Now, patients head to Google to search for information on illnesses, providers, and healthcare organizations.
What does this mean? Your organization needs to consider how prospective patients want to access information online — and that involves so much more than setting up a website.
Only about 28% of healthcare organizations have a content strategy, but 66% of people online search for healthcare information.
Source: The New York Times
If you aren’t staying current with digital marketing for your healthcare organization, you may be missing out.
Patients expect educational articles, social media updates, and provider profiles from your content. It can be challenging to keep up with current healthcare marketing trends, but knowing a few marketing terms may help.
Here are 15 digital marketing terms to add to your vocabulary.
Reach Your Audience
Your content needs to reach audiences, and this can be done through posting your own strategic content or through patients sharing and creating content about your organization.
1. Earned Media
If a patient gives a great recommendation on Yelp or if the local newspaper highlights a new program your organization launched, you earned attention without extra work or money.
2. Shared Media
When someone shares your content, such as a blog article or Facebook post, to their friends or followers, it’s called shared media. It can gain you more views and, hopefully, more patients every time your content is shared.
Increase Your Exposure
It helps to know who your ideal audience is, where they look for information, and how they search for it.
3. Target Audience
Before you create content, you have to know which patients you want to reach — your target audience. Different target audiences need different types of content and platforms to access it. For example, retirees looking for diabetes management and college students wanting the same information may look for the content in very different places.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
People don’t always (and often don’t) land on your website pages by typing in the URL. Google, the most popular search engine, uses search engine optimization (SEO) to try to make an educated guess about what the user is trying to find when they type in a few words.
Keywords are the words and phrases you use in your content to ensure your target audiences see your content in their search results.
A free or paid keyword search tool can show you what keywords you should be using, and how high those keywords are ranking.
6. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is when you overstuff your content with keywords to fill a made-up requirement. This is exactly what you don’t want to do when creating content. Natural writing, great titles, relevant content, and headings with keywords will reach your target audiences better than content unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
7. Content Strategy
Content strategy is a plan that identifies how you will use your content to reach your business goals. It lays out what already exists on your site, what should be created, and why. If you don’t have a content strategy, it’s like having all your bags packed, your car gassed up, and no GPS signal — a surefire way to not reach your destination.
8. Engagement Rate
The engagement rate tells you how much your audience is interacting with your content. For social media, this means they are sharing, commenting, or liking your content. With websites and other content, your audience may be booking appointments or leaving comments.
Use The Right Content Type
You can have great information, but if you don’t deliver it in an interesting way on the right platforms, your patients will never see it.
9. Visual Content
Visual content — such as infographics, videos, and pictures — rules in the online world. Many people read on their devices, which makes long form text-based information less effective than image-based content.
Visual content engages your audiences across all their devices and is helpful when they are short on time.
10. Video Content
Video content includes any kind of videos you include on your site. Some organizations create videos on platforms like TikTok or YouTube and then share them to their social media channels or simply upload videos directly to their website.
11. Interactive Content
Interactive content gets your patients to do something — take a quiz, read an e-book, or click on an interactive infographic, such as a map.
Measure Your Success
There’s only one way to know if your content strategy is a success: Do some measuring.
After you update your website or post social media content, you will want to see how well your content is performing by using your website or social media management tools. This is called analytics.
13. Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
A SERP is the page of results you’re given when you enter a search into Google. Google knows which results to display by looking for information on your website as well as your page URLs, images, and content. You’ll want to make sure your website is optimized so you show up in patients’ search results.
14. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The click-through rate tells you how many people selected the link they’ve seen. For example, if there’s a Facebook ad, the rate is determined by dividing how many people clicked on it by the number of people exposed to the ad.
15. Bounce Rate
Someone may click on your website or link, but if they hop off of it without doing anything else, you could end up with a high bounce rate. Analytics will tell you if patients are interacting with your webpage by clicking on a link to another article, taking a quiz, or making an appointment.
Digital marketing is always evolving — and so is its terminology. Just as you stay on top of marketing trends, do your best to keep up with new digital marketing terms that might impact the way you create and promote your healthcare content.
Contact us to create a healthcare content strategy and engaging content personalized for your organization. That way, you can focus on what you do best — serving your patients.
While many people think of Black History Month as a time to reflect on the past achievements of Black Americans, it can also be a time to amplify the great things nonprofit organizations are doing to improve the health of Black Americans today.
The 2022 theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness. In addition to recognizing the work of Black Western scholars and medical practitioners, this theme also calls attention to other means of knowing (such as the work of birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, and herbalists).
Source: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Healthcare Access And Equity For Black Americans
CareContent is a Black woman-owned business, and we care deeply about healthcare equity for Black Americans. Even though Black Americans’ death rate has gone down by 25% since the early 2000s, they still experience more disease burden and worse outcomes for pregnancy, hypertension, and diabetes than that of white Americans.
Black Americans’ Healthcare Access And Outcomes Lag Behind
- By age 55, 75% of Black adults have hypertension compared to about 50% of white men and 40% of white women.
- Black adults are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than white adults.
- Black women are 3 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than are white women.
Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The good news is that nonprofit and healthcare organizations are doing work to achieve healthcare access and equity while fighting bias in their content and strategy, which is important so that all groups can access the information they need to stay healthy.
Today, many organizations that promote Black health and wellness have developed mutual aid and social support initiatives to help their communities, such as building community clinics, hospitals, and medical and nursing schools. Some organizations are focused on creating diverse and inclusive healthcare content that promotes nutrition, body positivity, physical health, and mental health. Others are promoting specific initiatives, like better maternal healthcare outcomes and increased breastfeeding rates in the Black community.
Within some hospitals and traditional healthcare settings, medical practitioners are taking the lead by implementing programming to give their Black patients more healthcare access and better healthcare outcomes.
When community and healthcare organizations work together, the results can be even more impressive.
Here are 5 organizations making a positive impact on Black health and wellness.
1. National Black Leadership Commission on Health (Black Health)
Equity often begins with community leaders taking initiative. Originally focused on developing Black leadership to fight HIV/AIDS, the National Black Leadership Commission on Health (Black Health) updated its mission and name in 2019. It expanded its focus to include Hepatitis C, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, sickle cell, diabetes, and mental health.
In addition to working on making policies more equitable and organizing local communities, this organization offers many online informational handouts on diseases that affect Black Americans as well as educational programs like The Leadership Training Institute.
2. Center for Black Health
Organizations that want to provide equitable healthcare don’t always have the tools or know where to begin. The Center for Black Health has a website filled with resources to get your organization started. They work to promote policies, community-led programs, and public health campaigns that benefit people of African descent.
Community members and healthcare professionals can find a health justice training guide and links to the Black Body Health Podcast on the website. Their blog also has a wealth of information on healthcare issues affecting Black Americans.
GirlTrek is the largest nonprofit public health organization for Black women and girls in the US. They also have a podcast, Black History Bootcamp. Listeners can follow the daily meditations while they walk.
4. Black Mamas Matter Alliance
Pregnancy should be a happy and healthy time for all women. That’s why Black Mamas Matter Alliance performs advocacy for and research on Black maternal health.
They host conversations with Black maternal healthcare professionals and keep the community updated with information about local resources. They also offer a toolkit for those interested in advocating for the health and well-being of Black women and girls.
5. Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association
Breastfeeding is so important for infant health, but most infants in the US aren’t breastfed as long as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Black infants are even less likely to be breastfed than white infants.
Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association’s goal is to reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding by providing breastfeeding support for Black families. They offer virtual classes, an online club, and culturally appropriate literature for Black families. Healthcare workers can become leaders for Black healthcare equity by joining the leadership institute planned for 2022.
Healthcare Access And Equity For Black Americans
These organizations are making real changes by involving local communities, educating healthcare workers, and offering resources to patients and physicians alike. Nonprofits that work within the Black community can inspire your organization to create programming for healthcare access and better healthcare outcomes for Black Americans all year long.
CareContent can ensure your organization has a healthcare content strategy that promotes Black health and wellness. Contact us if you would like help with content strategy and creation.
At CareContent, we are obsessed with work-life balance, so we know how important it is to spend time with your loved ones and to take a break from your daily routine. Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to love on your family and friends— and enjoy some great food while you’re at it. It is also a great reminder that even with all of life’s challenges, there is plenty to be grateful for.
In my industry, we call it your “bounce rate”: the percentage of visitors who land on your homepage, then hop on down the bunny trail to some other website.
That means they never click on any of your links. Never look around. Never get to know who you are. And never become your client.
What causes it? Many things, even just typing in the wrong web address. But visitors also tend to switch channels when they see outdated content, eccentric design, links drowning in a sea of copy … visual blunders.
This is why smart web design is so important.
Good Web Design Gets You Good Metrics … Relatively Speaking
Now, it’s true that about 55% of people spend 15 seconds or fewer on most webpages. So don’t feel bad if your bounce rate is high. We all seem to have a shorter attention span than a goldfish these days.
On the other hand, some websites do hold visitors longer. What’s a “good” span of time? Viewers who spend 3 minutes on your website are twice as likely to return as viewers who spent just 1 minute there, researchers have found.
Three minutes. Not really a long time. So, here’s the question: How do you grab them?
Generally, your website has to:
- Interest your target audience
- Answer questions with up-to-date content
- Inspire trust
- Be easy to use
- Be visually attractive, with things like bullet points (see what I did there?)
You can find dozens of tips to make a website user-friendly on the web. But it starts by asking a basic question: At first glance, what does our website say about us, as an organization?
That said, here are 4 statements to avoid at all costs.
1. “We forgot to take our Adderall.”
This is the Yale University School of Art, so we’ll give them a pass for the, er, outre design. However, a business needs to be more “Bill Gates” and less “Andy Warhol,” obviously. Being taken seriously is kind of a prerequisite to inspiring trust.
Here’s a far more powerful design from Cardinal Health’s website:
A splash of color, some beautiful imagery, and a message that goes to the heart. Nothing wrong with this artistic approach.
The takeaway: It’s best if “artful” is also tasteful.
2. “We’ll give you 3 guesses to figure out what we do here. Ha! Strike one.”
This is AintWet.com, and it takes several clicks to understand what they’re actually selling. (It’s hats and T-shirts, by the way. I think.)
This website is an extreme example of a communication breakdown. Forget brand identity: Your website can’t make any statement at all if the nature of your business isn’t clear.
That seems obvious, but it’s a basic step that gets overlooked. Compare Aintwet to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital:
They could have picked a generic hospital building. Instead, they picked a kid. This really says “we’re all about children,” and it hits a home run. (Bonus points for matching the kid’s shirt with the U.S. News and World Report badge.)
The takeaway: Your website should communicate who you are, instantly.
3. “Working with us is as exciting as watching paint dry.”
I don’t know Suzanne Collins, and I’m sure she’s a nice woman. But glancing at her website, you’d never know she authored the best-selling novel The Hunger Games.
You’ve got a great company with great people, products, and services. Don’t turn visitors off with a boring “opening act.” Put on your top hat and coattails, and have some stage presence.
When you get a second, pay a visit to Clarity.io:
Air quality data could be boring. So could the technology that measures it. But Clarity launched a website with sparkling filaments, spinning globes, orbiting electrons, and other eye-catching animation. The Clarity website even won an award this year.
The takeaway: Even a “dry” product or service doesn’t have to mean a dull website. The sky’s the limit on design.
4. “Walk into our lobby and you might see Granny Clampett in a rocking chair.”
This is Mortimer Lumber, a company in Michigan. If their website works for them, more power to them. But I wouldn’t recommend rolling out the “ye olde jalopy” look for your own website.
There are fine antiques, and then there’s old junk. Here are a few signs your website is evoking the Internet’s “Wild West” days from the early ’90s:
- Busy, jumbled pages
- Flash animation
- Tiny fonts
- Wild colors
- Slow loading
- The word “welcome” on your homepage
- No call to action
- A lack of responsive design for tablets and smartphones (Google actually penalizes you for this)
If you’re going for a “classic” look, try something like this, from Kraud.de:
Basic, but sleek and beautiful. Just enough color to make you click. This website got it right.
Granted, Kraud is a home decor firm, so they’re starting with a visual advantage. But your website can soar creatively, too. Ask a web designer about the possibilities.
The takeaway: Simple, elegant web design is always welcome to the eye.
In the end, it’s your website. You can do whatever you want with it. But when you have only a few seconds to capture a visitor’s interest, it’s important to make an instant impression.
Your website says everything about you. Let it make a statement that says, “We’re smart, we’re savvy, we’re on top of the world. And we’re the company you want.”
Need to talk about a website revamp for your healthcare organization? We’re here for you. Get in touch with us and set up a consultation.
Digital marketing in healthcare is all about thinking outside the box. In fact, sometimes that box—or website—doesn’t even exist yet. Instead, all that exists is a blank space, waiting for its niche to be filled.
From helping hypochondriacs to assisting aspiring doctors, here are 4 healthcare websites that don’t exist yet … but really should.
1. The Healthy Hypochondriac
Being self-aware about your health is good. Knowing your body’s warning signals can alert you that it’s time to get checked out and treated by a medical professional.
Hypochondriacs take that self-awareness to a whole new level. We all know that one person who thinks that the smallest dull pain in his pinky toe must surely mean he’s dying. After all, he Googled it, so that one-in-a-million worst-case scenario must be true. There’s simply no way it’s just an ingrown toenail, right?
But what if there was a healthcare website that encouraged hypochondriacs to step away from the search bar and turn to the professionals instead? That’s where The Healthy Hypochondriac comes in.
This site would allow visitors to list their symptoms. Then, instead of providing them with a long list of results that vary in severity (and likelihood), from “you’ve stubbed your toe and it’s a little bruised” to “you’re definitely dying,” it would display the following message:
Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose your ailment with any degree of certainty. Not sure where the nearest provider is? Here is a list of medical specialists in your area.
The list that follows this message would include contact information for local providers, rather than a prescription for panic.
2. Dude, It’s Time For A Checkup
The problem with the stereotype that men hate going to the doctor—and thus will avoid doing so at all costs—is that it has become a self-perpetuating problem. Guys know they’re expected to want to avoid the doctor, and so they act accordingly, lest they be accused of being unmanly.
One way to stop the spread of this stereotype would be to instead spread the message that “real men know it’s okay to go to the doctor.” How?
Dude, It’s Time For A Checkup would feature multimedia messages from men whose successes span the cultural gamut—athletes, musicians, actors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and more—all sharing why they go to the doctor.
Messages can be targeted by specialty or condition—everything from the importance of having an annual physical to knowing your risk for prostate cancer.
Plus, there’s also the potential for a female-oriented spinoff: Girl, It’s Time To Get A Checkup.
3. Is This Health Info Legit?
Is This Health Info Legit? would be a myth-busting, fact-checking site—sort of like Snopes—but aimed solely at healthcare-related topics.
However, this site would take the mission of encouraging health literacy a step further. Sure, it would provide reliable information on the latest healthcare fads and news—and provide warnings about any misinformation that is making the rounds online.
But the site would also have a section dedicated to helping visitors make their own decisions about healthcare websites’ trustworthiness. How? By encouraging them to question an article’s sources and claims—and reminding them that their doctor can always help them separate fact from fiction.
4. There’s A Doc For That
Not all healthcare websites are aimed at patients. There’s A Doc For That is designed for the aspiring medical professional.
The goal? To educate future nurses, physicians, and other care providers about the wide range of medical specialties out there. The site would feature videos of doctors, nurses, and others giving the real scoop on what it’s like to work in their professions: the ups, the downs, and everything in between.
The site would also provide partnering opportunities for different professional organizations representing the different specialties.
For instance, medical associations could tout the benefits of membership in their organizations, hospitals could show off their cutting-edge research opportunities to draw in new talent, and nonprofits could recruit new providers to join them in their work.
Does your healthcare organization have an idea for a website that’s just begging to be created? Contact CareContent to find out how to turn that idea into a reality.
Start texting with a Millennial, and you’ll quickly find your conversation peppered with goofy faces, unicorns, flying pizzas, and even an occasional pile of poo. The visual fusillade is hard to escape.
Emojis have plastered the globe, and that’s a direct result of the digital revolution: More than 85% of Millennials own a smartphone, Nielsen reported in a 2014 study.
Twitter says its users have tweeted some 110 billion emojis since 2014. Some 6 billion emojis are sent per day, Digiday reports. Emojis are the language we speak.
That’s not surprising. Emojis transmit volumes of information in one character space, and add lightness and empathy to an otherwise sterile block of text.
There are right and wrong ways to deploy emojis in your marketing efforts, Entrepreneur magazine noted in February 2017. While you can find plenty of articles online about this topic, I thought I’d take a lighter approach.
Here are 13 ways I “talk” with my Millennial staff, using this vast society of little cartoon people. Feel free to use these as a springboard for ideas of your own, whether you’re coaching young employees or thinking ahead to a holiday marketing campaign.
At CareContent, we’re all about getting creative to reach our clients’ target audience. Contact us to find out how we can help you do just that.
Today on the CareContent blog, we have a guest post by Rebecca Steurer. Rebecca is the founder of ContentRS and the co-founder of Content Academy, both of which focus on helping organizations understand and implement successful content strategy and content marketing practices. Here’s what she has to say about the relationship between these two key concepts.
What comes first: content marketing or content strategy? My answer is content strategy—and I’m not just saying that because I am a 16-year content strategy veteran. I say this because developing a strategy for your content will have a significant impact on reaching your audience—while also saving you time and money.
To understand why this is, let me first explain what I see as the main differences between content marketing and content strategy.
The Difference Between Content Marketing And Content Strategy
Content Marketing Defined
Content marketing is what you do to share your brand message, knowledge, and experience with your audience. It puts your services within the context of your audience’s needs through storytelling.
In healthcare, content marketing might include:
- Blogs that share patient stories, doctor stories, and clinical stories
- Infographics that explain complicated procedures
- Behind-the-scenes videos that help patients understand how the medical team prepares for surgery
- Podcasts that share thought leadership
Content Strategy Defined
Content strategy is what you do to define what you want your content to achieve, how you’ll develop the content, where and when you’ll post the content, and what you’ll measure to determine if your content is successful. It helps you focus on developing the right information at the right time for the right audience and in the right presentation style.
While there is clearly a difference between content marketing and content strategy, the two must complement each other in order to be successful.
Why It’s Important To Have A Content Strategy For Content Marketing Efforts
I love the word “strategy” because it’s about having a plan to take action. It helps you define what you need to do so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again, which wastes time—and in this case, time is money.
There are several key content strategy tasks that you’ll want to complete to make your content marketing efforts successful:
1. Define Your Business Goals
According to a May 2017 report by MDG Advertising, healthcare organizations are budgeting more and more money for content marketing. This increased funding might be used to develop more blog posts throughout the year.
Before you begin developing your content, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of what you want your content marketing to achieve so that the budgeted funds are well spent. For instance, do you want your readers to:
- Call for an appointment?
- Share your story with their friends?
- Visit your website?
2. Define The Content Elements To Include On Your Blog And/Or Website
Ensuring you have the right content elements in your blog posts and website to guide your audience to achieve the desired outcomes is the key to success.
Say you’re creating a new blog post to highlight a physician, Dr. Bob. The goal is to fill up his schedule for the next few months.
Your blog post will showcase Dr. Bob’s clinical expertise and compassionate care. While your copywriter will write a beautifully written story about Dr. Bob, your content strategist will also be working to include several key items.
3. Create A Content Development And Posting Schedule
This is the step where organizational, planning, and communications skills are required. Use this step to help you schedule relevant information that is useful to your audience and supports your business goals.
4. Define The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Determine what you think makes your blog post a success—and then measure it. KPI can include:
- Number of page visits
- Number of shares
- Number of likes
- Number of appointments made
Once you determine the KPIs, create an easy-to-understand report to track findings over time, so you’ll know which content types work and which don’t.
5. Develop The Sharing Strategy
This step helps you determine where and when you’re going to let people know about the blog post.
For example, you might decide that sharing the latest stories on your hospital’s Facebook page is the best way to reach potential patients. Or maybe Twitter is more effective. Or it might be the case that sharing the content across several social networks is best. The answer all depends on your audience and goals.
Now You’re Ready For Content Marketing
Now that your content strategy is in place, all you have to focus on is developing the copy. Because you’ve created a stellar content strategy, your content marketing efforts should pay off. This is why successful content marketing starts with a solid content strategy.
At CareContent, we’ve got your content strategy and content marketing needs covered. Contact us today to find out how to take your healthcare organization’s content marketing to the next level.
It wasn’t exactly a surprise when they said I had an abnormal mammogram. I am, as they say, no spring chicken, and generally, the older women get, the higher their risk for breast cancer.
But I admit there was still a part of me shouting, “I’m too YOUNG! I’m barely out of college! This is crazy!” …Even though college is far behind me, and, as my aunt (a nurse) always reminds me sweetly, my arteries always know how old I really am.
Aging is the buzzard that sits on your bedpost…with a mean grin. I’ll get you eventually. No hurry.
But ready or not, I got the call last month that women dread. There was something unusual about my annual screening mammogram, and the hospital needed me to come back for additional scans. Oh, wow. This can’t be good.
I was scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram—the heavy-duty kind with mix-and-match compression plates, multiple scans from different angles, and a radiologist who reads the results immediately.
If there was a lump, I was headed for a nice, long needle in the biopsy room.
“Disgruntled” is one word to describe my feelings. So are “vexed,” “alarmed,” and “appalled.” Especially knowing they’d be compressing, and re-compressing, certain parts of my anatomy with all the dignity of a marshmallow in a s’more.
Still, I figured I could make the best of it. So, I’m sharing my thoughts for any health specialist who might want to peek into the mind of a VNP (Very Nervous Patient)—someone who’s caught a possible sighting of the Grim Reaper in her crystal ball.
Scariest Show Under The Big Top
What is it like? Your mind is a circus of thoughts, questions, and doubts. Funhouse mirrors show you a distorted future, and sinister clowns juggle plates that say, “Haha, now you’re in for it.” The acrobat on the highwire is you. There is no safety net below.
In good moments, you hold on to logic: The odds are in my favor. About 80% of all lumps are benign, BreastCancer.org says. In bad moments, you brood and think the worst. It’s Stage 4 for sure. I should set up that trust fund for my cats.
The waiting is the worst part, of course. When I finally walked in for my diagnostic mammogram at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, I was relieved. And ready for answers.
At least I thought I was—until I started the trek back to the great Boob-o-Matic and my mind flooded with new questions.
This Time, They Mean Business
The diagnostic mammograms are held on the seventh floor at Rush, unlike the annual screening ones, which are held on the ground floor. Both offices are beautifully decorated and full of friendly, professional staff.
But at this appointment, I didn’t have to wait for my test. A receptionist checked me in immediately, and before I even sat down, a staff member led me to the changing area. Oh, that’s nice. They’re not wasting any time. Wait, is that good or bad?
After donning a maroon gown, I was led down a hallway past a series of interview rooms—cozy, rose-colored offices full of cushy chairs, subdued lighting, and Kleenexes.
They were gorgeous, impeccable. Part of me was impressed. And part of me was cringing. How many women have received bad news in those rooms? Will I be one of them soon?
I decided I’d rather take the doctor down to the Au Bon Pain cafe. Flapping gown and all.
Blissed Out … Not
In the waiting room, I watched a large-screen TV that showed a series of landscapes—waterfalls, mountains, flowers swaying gently in the wind. Violins and flutes serenaded us. It was elegantly produced. And I was instantly suspicious.
They’re trying to relax us, I thought. Why? This is creepy. Like a hospice for dying boobs. Geez, I can’t think straight.
I was having nonsensical thoughts about breast insurance when they called me back for the mammogram. I don’t remember the technician’s name, but I do remember that she shook my hand and smiled. It did have a calming effect.
As she set up the scanning machine—a sophisticated, oblong device that never fails to remind me of the space monster in Alien—I stood awkwardly. I babbled about my cats and how their veterinarians, amazingly, get them to sit still for X-rays.
The technician agreed that was amazing, and I said vets were amazing people. Who did amazing things. Really amazing. And pretty soon, we were off and running with my scans.
And Squish, 2, 3, 4 …
At the sixth compression, I was visualizing the machine as a cute baby shark that had swum by and clamped onto me affectionately. I wuv you. It helped a little.
“How are you doing? Are you okay?” the technician asked as she tightened the plates once again.
“Yep. I’m good,” I said, not looking down. Nice sharkie. Don’t bite any harder, now.
“You’re a tough one,” she said, and I grinned. Or maybe grimaced.
After the final round of hold-your-breath-and-don’t-move, I covered myself and sat down. The technician said she’d return in a few minutes. I was quiet, wondering what they’d find. It really could have been anything. Small lump? Big lump? Lots of lumps? Frankentumor?
There was another large-screen TV on the wall, and this time, there were animals in the landscapes. A butterfly, an elk, a gnu chewing on something. The New Age-y music wafted out. Animals die in nature, I thought. Circle of life. Happens all the time, nothing to fear. God, what am I thinking?
Finally, the technician reappeared. “We don’t need to do any more compressions,” she said. I hoped that meant good news. She led me back to the quiet, dark den where the radiologist did her diagnostics.
The Final Frontier
The doctor introduced herself and kindly invited me to sit down next to her at her desk. Peering through her eyeglasses, she brought up different views of my left breast on three large computer screens. They looked like giant, glowing moonscapes.
“You see these tiny calcifications here?” she said. “There are three together, very faint.”
They looked like small, white ice chips, and they were maybe a just a smidge larger than, say, a dot that a ballpoint pen could make. Ridiculously tiny.
As we zoomed in to see them more closely, breast tissue flew past us like clouds and space dust, reminding me of the Astrometrics lab on Star Trek. I was boggled by the magnifying power of this software.
“When a patient has ductal carcinoma in situ, it often starts out this way, as a cluster of calcifications,” the radiologist said. She explained that ductal carcinoma in situ is a form of cancer that’s usually very treatable.
“However, these calcifications are very small,” she continued. “If we were to try to get a tissue sample, we might not even be able to find them. And we cannot say for certain that they will evolve into ductal carcinoma in situ.
“So, we’re going to bring you back every 6 months, for 2 years, and keep scanning you, and watch them carefully.”
I had a million questions, and this crackerjack radiologist answered them all. In summary, she said if the calcifications started to multiply, it would be time to take a tissue sample. But for now, there was no reason to be alarmed. And she smiled.
I didn’t have cancer. Yet. Maybe I never would.
I wanted to hug her.
That’s All, For Now—Really
I walked back to the waiting room with a definite lighter-than-air feeling. I sat and waited for them to print my report.
Next to me, a woman named Tamika was watching the TV screen, with its floaty landscapes.
“This music creeps me out,” she said.
“I know what you mean,” I said, with a wry smile.
We talked, and she told me her mother was there for a biopsy. I told her I’d say a prayer for her mom, and she thanked me. I wished I could do more.
I suddenly felt a pang of sympathy for the health professionals who work with patients with dicey test results and uncertain futures. They did their best to make us comfortable. It couldn’t be an easy job.
I definitely have a new respect for mammograms. Meanwhile, I’ve named my calcifications Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy—after the bratty kids in the Harry Potter novels.
In 6 months, we’ll see if they’ve magically multiplied. Hopefully not.
The only thing I might change about my experience is switching those waiting-room TV videos to something maybe a little, er, lighter.
At my vet’s office, they show HGTV with continuous “flip-this-house/flip-this-condo” type content. It’s weirdly interesting. Something like this might work, on low volume—just a quiet distraction, if you want it.
The message would be less “We’re trying to comfort you,” and more “We assume you’re going to live. You should, too. So, you might as well think about ways to upgrade your bathroom.”
Life goes on, after all. Might as well embrace it, at any age.
We don’t just tell our own medical tales. We write about patients’ stories, too. Get in touch with CareContent to talk about some testimonials for your website. Nobody says it better than a patient who’s had a good experience.
It probably seems like everyone and their mom has a blog these days. And maybe that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that all blogs are created equal. Blogging can be a powerful marketing tool for your healthcare organization—if it’s done right.
So, how can you set your company’s healthcare blog up for success? Here are 3 factors to keep in mind before you even think about publishing that first post.
1. Figure Out Your Target Audience.
As an August 2013 Forbes article explains, having a clear target audience is key to creating a winning content strategy. And, as the second point in this post (see below) will explain, a strong content strategy is critical if you want your organization’s healthcare blog to succeed.
Instead, ask yourself: Is there a specific service line that we should focus on?
For example, let’s say your organization is about to build a new diabetes clinic that will offer comprehensive, multi-speciality care and support to adult patients. Maybe your target audience is working people with Type 2 diabetes who are struggling to balance jobs, family, and taking care of their own health.
2. Start With A Strong Content Strategy.
But what on earth is a content strategy?
Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina sums it up best when he says:
“Content strategy is about planning the creation, promotion, and measurement of content. This content attracts visitors to our website, creating meaningful interactions that meet the needs of our audience and our business.”
Creating a great content strategy means really getting to know the wants and needs of your target audience. It requires knowing the ins and outs of search engine optimization and keyword research. The content strategy should include a content calendar full of engaging post ideas. Your organization will also need to know how to track and interpret analytics—and adjust the strategy as needed.
And no successful content strategy is complete without a solid promotion plan.
3. Produce Less, Promote More.
It goes without saying that your organization’s healthcare blog content should be top-of-the-line as far as quality is concerned. But while it would be great if standout blog content spoke for itself and attracted readers through osmosis, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
This is where the promotion part of a successful content strategy comes in.
In fact, as an August 2016 Content Marketing Institute article makes clear, the majority of a marketing team’s efforts should go toward promoting content, not creating it.
Think about it this way: If your organization’s blog is pumping out blog posts daily, you’ll want to promote each post thoroughly. But not only is it very difficult to produce that much quality content at that rate, promoting it might actually be harmful to your company’s cause.
This is because trying to promote that many posts at a time will quickly saturate your organization’s social media feeds—and drive people away. And that’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Instead, take time to create quality content, then dedicate even more time to promoting that content.
This might seem like a lot of work just to launch a healthcare blog. But a well-planned blog can help your organization meet its marketing goals. In the end, all of this up-front effort will be well worth it.
At CareContent, these three points are always on our mind when we help our clients launch new healthcare blogs. Let us help your hospital or healthcare organization create and promote standout web content. Contact us today to get started.
I’ve never been the kind of person who was afraid of going to the dentist, though I can certainly understand why some people feel that way.
But after a series of rather unfortunate experiences with dentists over the past few years—including several thousand dollars’ worth of possibly unnecessary and definitely painful procedures—I found myself approaching my recent cleaning with more than a bit of wariness.
My wariness turned to surprise when I walked into the office and was greeted at the check-in desk by a big, friendly, tail-wagging golden retriever.
The receptionist explained that she was the dentist’s dog, and that she was a certified therapy animal. She usually stayed behind the check-in desk, but if she could sense a patient’s anxiety, she would paw at the door to be let out, so that she could join you in the treatment area.
Part of me wondered if I should find this situation weird—I’d never heard of a therapy dog in a dentist’s office—and part of me wondered if she’d pick up on my nervousness during this visit.
It turns out, the answer to both of these questions was “no.”
A quick Google search for “therapy dogs in dentist office” showed me that my new dentist is not alone. Therapy dogs are making their way into dental practices across the US. As a July 2014 American Student Dental Association blog post asked: “If hospitals can do it, why can’t dental offices?”
Now I wanted to know more about pet therapy in healthcare settings: Where is it happening? What are the benefits to patients? What about the risks? Here are 4 things I learned.
1. Pet Therapy Is Very Common In Hospitals.
Pet therapy in dentist offices seems to be a newer trend. This means that finding a local dentist whose office has a therapy dog might still be difficult for most people.
The same is not true for hospitals, however.
2. The Risks Of Allowing Therapy Animals Into Hospitals Are Unclear.
As the Modern Healthcare article explained, there is some evidence connecting exposure to animals with hospital outbreaks of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and clostridium difficile. But this evidence is largely anecdotal.
So, aside from the obvious risk posed by allowing animals near patients who are potentially allergic to them, there doesn’t seem to be enough data to definitively say that pet therapy in hospitals is a bad idea.
3. The Benefits Of Pet Therapy Are Wide-Ranging.
According to Pet Partners, a non-profit specializing in animal-assisted interventions—including pet therapy—there’s plenty of evidence to show that therapy dogs can help patients with a variety of health challenges, including:
- Decreasing patient pain levels—and increasing hospital stay satisfaction—after joint arthroplasty
- Decreasing pain and improving mood in fibromyalgia patients in outpatient waiting areas
- Promoting “positive social behaviors” in children with autism
4. Hospital Pet Therapy Guidelines Are Anti-Cat.
Okay, that’s not the main point of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America’s March 2015 guidelines. But I’m a proud cat mom, and Scientific American’s headline, “New Hospital Guidelines Say No Cats Allowed,” certainly doesn’t help.
However, here’s what the guidelines actually suggest:
- Pet therapy dogs should be at least 1 year old.
- Dogs and their handlers should complete a formal training program and pass an evaluation before joining a pet therapy program.
- Hospitals should look for animals with certification from legitimate pet therapy training groups and organizations.
- Pet therapy animals should undergo a veterinary check-up annually and be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
- Pet therapy animals should be brushed to remove any loose hair or dander before they enter the hospital.
- Pet therapy animals should be kept away from “invasive devices” like catheters or bandages.
- Cats should not be allowed in the hospital setting.
I’m disappointed that I probably won’t find a therapy cat at my next doctor or dentist appointment. But as an all-around animal lover, I am happy that healthcare organizations are taking advantage of something that pet owners have known about for a long time: the power of animal companionship to ease our ills.
Does your healthcare organization have a pet therapy program? Tell us about it in the comments.