Kadesha Thomas Smith, CareContent

Healthcare Web Content: 4 Reasons To Take A More Casual Tone

How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate—especially in healthcare.

Voice and tone are so often overlooked during the content creation process for healthcare web content, but they are key in distinguishing your brand and truly impacting your target audiences.

Maybe that’s why poor health literacy is such a huge issue in this country. Only 12% of US adults have what is considered a proficient level of health literacy, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In some areas of the country, 1 out of 2 people have a basic or below basic ability to comprehend health information, reports a study from University of North Carolina. This means that half of the population in these areas can read an appointment reminder and figure out when their next trip to the doctor is.

But filling out consent forms and insurance paperwork—or even understanding a pamphlet about healthcare services once they’re at the appointment—is tough.

At CareContent, we are all about increasing health literacy. And as a team of content specialists for healthcare, we advocate for patient-focused content to take a more conversational tone. Here are 4 reasons why.

1. A Casual Tone Helps Patients Understand Complex Information Better

When web content is narrated in a way that sounds like someone is talking, it helps patients understand the information better. The same goes for avoiding wonky language and acronyms. Ditto for cutting out long strings of sentences. When you break the information up and make it digestible, it becomes easier to understand.

This is part of our health literacy mission. If we want people to understand their diagnosis, their treatment, and their medical team, we have to talk at a level that they are comfortable with.

We don’t want people to have to read our client’s content with a dictionary next to them. We don’t them to have to ask the doctor, “What does that word even mean?”

For me, this mission is personal.

My son was recently diagnosed with mild autism. Even getting to that diagnosis required a lot of appointments with pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental and occupational therapists, social workers, and a lot of other specialists who work in early childhood development.

One of the common complaints I’ve heard from other moms in this same position is that these specialists talk to parents like they’re talking to each other. Some of them spew out acronyms and terminology like you graduated with their credentials.

This is an issue for two reasons:

  1. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Why should I have to stop and ask you to explain what you just explained? If they break the information down well to begin with, this doubling back wouldn’t be needed.
  2. It creates more anxiety. A lot of these medical jargon-y words seem scarier and more alien than what they actually mean.

Explaining healthcare information to patients is not the time for the medical expert to display their intelligence. We already know you’re smart. When information is presented to patients in a formal, clinical, wonky voice, that creates questions instead of answering them. And that’s a problem.

2. Conversational Healthcare Web Content Is Better For Search

In addition to helping people understand the information, taking a more conversational tone can also help with search results. This is especially true with the rise of voice search using virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, etc.

Today, nearly 1 in 4 people with an Android device speak their search query versus typing it.

Voice searchers don’t say, “pediatric autism specialist Chicago.” Instead, they say, “Where is the nearest pediatric autism specialist?” or “I need an autism specialist for my toddler.”

To ensure that the search engine robots crawl your content and connect it with something a voice searcher might say, your content needs to match how people talk.

3. Healthcare Web Content Needs To Create Empathy

The third reason to take a more conversational tone for healthcare web content is that it creates a more personal connection with people when, as they’re reading the content, they feel as if they are talking to someone—as if they can hear the nurse or doctor’s voice as they’re reading.

This is a great tactic for organizations that are trying to personalize their providers’ voices online. Wording the information the same way they’d explain it to their patients humanizes them.

This humanization goes hand-in-hand with the fact that most people who are looking for healthcare information online are often in need of empathy. They want to know that they are not alone, that their concerns are being heard, and that they can get help.

Taking a more conversational tone goes a long way toward providing that comfort and empathy patients and caregivers need.

4. Voice And Tone Can Set Your Healthcare Web Content Apart

Refining a conversational voice and tone is one of the most underestimated ways to distinguish a brand. Lots of companies seek to distinguish their brands using fonts, colors, and logos. And while these are all elements to consider, voice is often left out.

This might seem like an inappropriate example for a healthcare setting, but, for instance, take the website Thug Kitchen [Warning: If you click this link, don’t be offended]. Thug Kitchen started as a recipe website that has grown into a vegan cooking empire with three bestselling cookbooks.

The recipes are good, but it’s their intrepid voice and tone that made them culinary stars: Their recipes are full of cuss words.

I remember looking up a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving one year, and their recipe popped up first in my search. The first line: “Put the f***ing can opener down.” I laughed the whole time as I went through this recipe.

Other companies like MailChimp and BuzzFeed have risen to become leaders in their market because of the way they say things.

These may not be healthcare brands, but those of us creating healthcare web content can borrow this principle. Using a conversational voice and tone makes your content memorable. And that, in turn, makes your organization memorable.

Are you ready for your healthcare web content to have a voice and tone makeover? Contact us to get started.