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:
- 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.
- 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.
Content First: 9 Signs It’s Time To Redo Your Healthcare Website
Yes, it’s probably time.
The fact that you’re even reading this blog post indicates that you’ve at least clicked around your healthcare organization’s website and either rolled your eyes, or just let out a long tired sigh.
Revamping your healthcare organization’s website is a huge undertaking: the content strategy, the content creation, the design, the UX. Then, after all that’s done, who’s going to keep the thing updated?
Or maybe you’re not sure. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if your organization’s website needs a makeover. And I’m not talking about just changing the layout and color scheme. I’m talking about redoing the content on the site, too.
So, how do you know if your healthcare website is in for a redo? Here are 9 signs it’s time to do it—and put the content first.
First, there are the obvious signs:
1. The Content Is Out Of Date.
If no one is keeping tabs on when new content is published—or whether the published content is even still useful or relevant—then it’s probably time for a refresh.
2. The Site Is Difficult To Navigate.
If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for right away—like within a few seconds, at most—chances are they’re leaving. And that’s not a good thing. Hint: If people are spending a longer time on your homepage compared to pages about your services, then it’s possible that they’re not finding the right path to the information they need.
3. The Site Isn’t Responsive.
I really shouldn’t even have to say this, but here it goes. More than two thirds of all health-related searches are done on mobile devices, not computers, according to an August 2016 Search Engine Land report. If your healthcare website isn’t responsive, then … just … I can’t.
4. The Site Looks Outdated.
If people are looking for some Internet nostalgia, they’ll turn to BuzzFeed posts like “6 Websites You’ll Remember If You Grew Up In The ‘90s.” But if your healthcare organization’s site looks like it belongs in one of those posts, it’s time to redo it.
While these are all obvious signs that your healthcare website is due for an update, there are more subtle signs that many people overlook simply because they just might not recognize them:
5. You Called A Web Design Or Development Firm First.
If the last time you worked on your website, you called a web design or development firm first, you probably need to redo your site.
That’s because digital marketing is all about content.
If you did not take a content-first approach to your website and instead relied on a developer or design firm, it probably means you took your old content and placed it into a shiny, new shell.
But that content might not be performing the way you want it. Even if you redesigned your website as recently as two years ago, if you didn’t take a content-first approach, it’s probably time to take another stab at it already.
6. No One Is Tracking Your Analytics.
If you cannot point to the one person or team in your healthcare organization who can tell you how your content is performing, where traffic is coming from, how long visitors are staying on your site, and what content those visitors like best, it’s probably time to for a redo.
I say this from experience. When talking to clients or prospective clients who don’t have a dedicated analytics team or partner, the organization usually has some really outdated features or stale content on their website.
And the reason it’s become outdated is because no one is telling the organization that the content is not performing well. Analytics is all about how the content is performing.
7. Even Your Care Providers Complain About The Website.
It’s probably time to redo your healthcare website if your organization’s care providers say they want the website to be a much more robust resource for their patients.
A bad website makes providers’ jobs harder because they don’t have a centralized place they can point patients toward to get answers to those repeat questions.
If your doctors are complaining about what they think should be on the site, listen to them. What they’re really saying is, “We need to invest in our site in order to make it something that helps us help our patients.”
8. There Are No Interactive Elements On The Site.
If your site has no videos, graphics, or other elements that make it visual and interactive, it’s not going to rank well in search.
Plus, nobody wants to look at a big wall of text. Graphic elements break up dense text and keep people engaged. If your healthcare website doesn’t have visuals, it’s probably time to redo your site.
9. Your Healthcare Website Is Not Ranking In Search.
Ranking in search is so important because that is how people are finding their healthcare providers.
For instance, a September 2012 study conducted by Google found that 44% of patients who looked up information about hospitals on a mobile device ended up scheduling an appointment. That study also found that search brings almost 3 times as many people to hospital websites, compared to the number of visitors who arrive there without searching.
It’s not so much that your site’s landing pages need to rank. Rather, the pages for individual doctors—especially those rockstar doctors who have patients traveling long distances to see them—should show up on the side of a Google results page, along with a picture, quote, and updated office hours and locations.
Google is trying to compile as much information as possible to help people find answers instantly. If a person is looking for an answer or a service that your healthcare organization can provide, Google should know that.
So, if your web content is not ranking well in search, it’s time to redo it.
If you want to cut down on the headache and the hassle of a website redo, contact us today to talk more about how we can help you put content first in your next redesign process.
Pet Therapy In Healthcare: 4 Facts I Learned After Seeing My Dentist
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.
What Value-Based Care Means For Healthcare Providers And Patients
For better or for worse, healthcare does not exist in a bubble. Everything about it—available funding, legal guidelines, ongoing research, and even patient expectations—are shaped by developments in other industries. And that has impacted the industry’s move toward value-based care.
As Deloitte’s 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey explains, this means advances in seemingly unrelated fields can impact healthcare in so many ways.
Deloitte uses airlines as an example: Consumers can quickly and easily book flights using mobile apps, taking the hassle out of arranging travel. So, patients wonder, why can’t doctor’s appointments be scheduled in that way, too?
The overarching theme here is clear, says Deloitte: “Consumers seek high-quality service tailored to their specific needs from healthcare providers and administrative staff.”
This is where value-based care comes in—and here’s what that means for both patients and healthcare providers.
Value-Based Care: The Future Of Healthcare Is Now
Back in October 2013, the Harvard Business Review boldly declared that value-based care is “the strategy that will fix health care.”
Compared to its predecessor, volume-based care, value-based care encourages healthcare organizations to shift their focus from quantity to quality (really, it should’ve always been that way). This requires major adjustments across healthcare—from how care is delivered to how doctors are compensated for delivering it.
As with any major industry-wide transition, the move to value-based care is not without its hiccups. But this shift is necessary in order for healthcare as a whole to be able to provide its consumers—that is, patients—with not only the care that they need, but also the care that they deserve.
Making Value-Based Care A Win-Win For Patients And Providers
Three years after the Harvard Business Review’s declaration about value-based care, an article in NEJM Catalyst explained, “The shift from volume-based to value-based healthcare is inevitable.”
But some healthcare organizations are struggling to adjust as reimbursement systems scramble to move toward rewarding high-quality care rather than high-volume care.
The NEJM Catalyst article adds that this change means organizations need to shift their focus from short-term profits—a view encouraged by the old quantity based fee-for-service system—to the more long-term gains that value-based care aims for.
Ultimately, the skills and mindsets needed to successfully make this shift will benefit patients and providers. For instance, organizations that have already started to transition toward value-based care have prioritized:
- Innovation: Embracing change can create sustainability within an organization because it shows patients that providers are able to adapt over time
- Risk management: Looking at the full spectrum of care, from prevention to intervention to rehabilitation, ensures that patients get the appropriate care at all times—and providers see more successful outcomes
- Collaboration: Providers who are able to build relationships both within and outside of healthcare are better able to understand and serve the complex needs of their patients
With the future of the Affordable Care Act up in the air, healthcare finds itself once again at a crossroads. What this means for value-based care specifically is uncertain.
However, as a November 2016 Modern Healthcare article states, “Efforts to move away from fee-for-service to value-based care are also enshrined in places besides the Affordable Care Act.”
This suggests that healthcare will continue to increasingly emphasize that high-quality care that patients not only want, but deserve. While the transition will not be without its challenges, this change is one that will ultimately benefit providers and patients alike.
How is your healthcare organization using value-based care to meet changing patient needs? Share your story in the comments.
The Dropout Effect—And Why Theatre Education Might Be The Answer
The high school dropout rate is never “good” news, but at least it’s improving. More US students are graduating from high school than ever before—about 82%.
Unfortunately, there are still thousands of kids who leave high school each year without a diploma.
If you’re a clinician or work in healthcare, you might be asking, “How is this relevant to medicine?” The reality is, there’s a connection to public health.
High school dropouts are looking at a higher likelihood of health problems down the line, including:
- Shorter life expectancies
- Chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
- A more difficult time dealing with stress or managing chronic diseases
A kid who stays in high school is a happier kid with better health outcomes in the long run.
So, how can schools keep their students through graduation?
This is where theatre education steps on the scene. Yes, as in “Give my regards to Broadway.”
Here are 3 ways that theatre classes can keep students in school.
Keep ‘Em Coming Back For More.
Many students actually cite some type of disengagement, such as uninteresting classes, as the main reason for leaving school.
Drama classes can play a leading role in solving this problem. Students who participate in arts classes, such as drama, are more engaged in school and have better attendance records than their peers who do not take arts classes.
There’s No Small Role For At-Risk Students.
Students of all backgrounds drop out of school, but some are more at risk than others.
Students whose families live in poverty, or students who are black or Hispanic, have higher dropout rates. And at-risk students who don’t take classes in the arts are 5 times more likely to drop out of school than other kids.
Classes in the arts can lower that risk. For at-risk students, high engagement in the arts:
- Reduces the likelihood of dropping out of school
- Leads to better academic performance
- Triples the likelihood of earning a bachelor’s degree
- Inspires stronger civic engagement later in life
This is especially important, because going to college can have a direct impact on health. College graduates live longer and are less likely to smoke, be overweight, have heart disease, or develop diabetes.
Teens Can Develop Self-Esteem Of The Stars.
Drama classes have been shown to improve low self-esteem—another risk factor for dropping out of high school. They can also provide a place for students to explore emotions rather than suppressing them.
Students who take drama classes are also more confident in academic abilities—and for good reason. Compared to peers who don’t participate in drama, students who take drama classes:
- Score 34 and 65 points higher in the math and verbal sections of the SAT, respectively
- Develop strong skills in creative thinking, problem-solving, and dealing with complexity
- Build strong language skills, especially if they have learning disabilities
Keeping up a strong theatre arts program takes work—getting the right teachers, finding a suitable classroom, funding productions, etc. However, it’s well worth the effort. By increasing the likelihood that kids will stay in school, theatre education sets the stage for their healthy future.
Interested in blogs about healthcare and education for your website? Contact the CareContent team for help.
5 Viral Content Marketing Tips Buzzfeed Can Teach Healthcare
If you’ve ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through listicles like “17 Dogs Who Cannot Handle This Weather” or “30 Corn-Based Recipes You Need To Try This Summer,” you know firsthand the power of BuzzFeed to draw people to the site.
What you may not be aware of is that much of this content gets tens or even hundreds of thousands of views in a relatively short period of time. BuzzFeed has certainly mastered the tools of the viral content trade.
BuzzFeed has certainly mastered the tools of the viral content trade. And believe it or not, healthcare organizations can learn a lot from it.
Here are 5 viral content marketing tips your organization can learn from BuzzFeed, according to Colleen Callinan, a sales director at BuzzFeed.
1. Create Quality Content.
Making both highly relevant and extremely shareable content is a major skill. BuzzFeed has perfected it.
Also read: Which Does Healthcare Content Marketing Need More: Strong Writers Or Strong Editors?
Timeliness and shareability are important factors in whether content goes viral, Jonah Peretti, the company’s founder and CEO, wrote in an April 2013 article for Facebook Stories.
2. Know What Works (And What Doesn’t).
BuzzFeed’s content strategy “is built on obsessive measurement,” a January 2014 article in the UK edition of Wired explains. BuzzFeed takes analytics tracking to the next level: Each piece of content is given its own dashboard to track relevant stats.
As a result of all of this testing, tracking, and analyzing, BuzzFeed has mastered the science of creating viral content.
3. Create Standout Headlines And Visuals.
A standout headline can determine whether someone clicks on a link to your content, says Colleen.
Visual content is important, too. Great supporting graphics contribute to content’s memorability and sharability.
Also read: Rules Of Thumb About Facebook Graphics Colleen suggests running tests to see what’s most effective.
Colleen suggests running tests to see what’s most effective.
3 Of My Recent Favorite Headlines
This Couple Forgot To Tell Their Cat They’d Had A Baby
Why it stands out: It provides an interesting spin on a situation you wouldn’t normally think about—what our pets think when we bring home another human family member.
This Plot Hole In “The Little Mermaid” Changes Everything Why it stands out: I instantly want to know what the plot hole is—and therefore, I will definitely click the link.
Why it stands out: I instantly want to know what the plot hole is—and therefore, I will definitely click the link.
17 Hobbies To Try If You Suck At Hobbies
Why it stands out: Not only does it make me wonder, “How can a person suck at hobbies?”—it also makes me a little self-conscious. Do I need new hobbies, too?
4. Reach Out To Online Influencers.
Colleen suggests you find social media influencers in your field who will spread the word about your content.
Of course, in order to encourage anyone to share or promote your content, it has to be quality material to begin with. (See number 1 above.)
5. Encourage Meaningful Social Engagement.
As BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith explained to Wired, when it comes to successful content marketing, “It’s not just numbers, it’s being part of the conversation.”
Shani Hilton, Deputy Executive Director at BuzzFeed, explains that content with a smaller number of views isn’t necessarily a failure. She told Wired that, “If you’re doing something that will get only 50,000 views, that’s fine—as long as our piece is optimised to get all 50,000 who should see it.”
But there’s more to it than just numbers. As a March 2014 Contently article explains, “The goal of each piece of your content is to get people to return, so that you can build a loyal audience.”
That means your content needs to do more than just gather shares and clicks. It also needs to get people to spend time on your site, and encourage them to interact through comments and social media.
In the end, it all circles back to very first point: Create quality content.