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Healthcare Content Marketing: Beyond Patient Stories

By Lara Nour EddineOct 2, 2015

Healthcare_Content_Marketing_Beyond_Patient_Stories

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is at least two years behind other industries in its use of content marketing. Government regulations—think HIPAA laws and the Affordable Care Act—are making it increasingly difficult to know what information can be included in outgoing communications.

However, just because it’s more difficult doesn’t mean there isn’t a need or an audience for healthcare content marketing. Pew Research found that 72 percent of Internet users looked online for health information in 2012.

But many times, content seems geared to specific patient experiences and accounts of their illness or journey to recovery. This is where waters can become murky because the patient must consent to the release of this information if it is going to be published.

There are other ways to reach those interested in health topics besides sharing personal accounts. If your organization is looking to get started with content marketing for healthcare audiences, here are three ways to incorporate it into your strategy that go beyond sharing personal stories.

Offer real information, not just anecdotes

Rather than focus on specific accounts of a condition or disease, provide readers with factual information on health-related topics they are searching for. When these users are searching for health information, what are they looking for?

Chances are they (or a loved one) are experiencing certain symptoms and are trying to find out the cause. Healthcare organizations can become trusted resources when they have their own information available as reference. The Cleveland Clinic does this well with its Health Hub. The Clinic’s health and wellness website has become a trusted resource for online health information since its launch in 2012.

On the Health Hub, medical experts answer reader questions, reinforcing the Clinic as a thought leader in the healthcare industry. Featured topics range from what type of sunscreen is best to more serious conditions such as cancer. Users can also search topics to find what most pertains to them.

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Present the latest research and innovation

When people research conditions online, they want trusted resources, and they want to know what the future holds. With 45 percent of U.S. adults living with a chronic condition, information on what strategies are being developed for further treatment is widely searched.

Boston Children’s Hospital’s website details its research and innovations in areas ranging from pediatric dentistry to pediatric neurobiology. Content is updated as new breakthroughs are discovered. The hospital also discusses its partnerships with companies and organizations around the country on initiatives to fight childhood disease and illness.

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Providing information that will be hopeful and inspiring to readers is part of the magic of content marketing. By giving readers the latest updates on what is happening with medical conditions, they can feel empowered to ask their doctors better questions and can even take better care of themselves and loved ones.

Offer tips and advice on common issues

Content marketing is not about selling—it’s about making that connection with your audience and giving them the information they need to help them see you as a trusted source of information. It’s not about your healthcare organization, it’s about the reader.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center takes a slightly different approach than the Cleveland Clinic by offering lifestyle topics to help readers improve their wellness habits. This approach can encourage readers to make healthy changes and, like the Health Hub, provides advice and tips to readers on many health issues.

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Storytelling is an important part of content marketing. But there are many other ways to reach patients beyond sharing personal accounts that will still strike a chord.

Anyone can relate to wellness initiatives and information because it affects us all. Patients are connected to conditions or illnesses if they or a loved one have been personally affected by it, and will take comfort in getting details about the condition and new research or innovations that are found toward a cure or better treatment.

Content marketing can provide that desired information while demonstrating your organization’s knowledge and expertise without being inherently sales-driven. Get doctors to supply content, or at least provide subject ideas to write about. With their busy schedules, they are likely not available to produce content for you but still have valuable knowledge and insight on health topics they deal with on a regular basis when they see patients. Taking those topics and turning them into valuable educational pieces will help boost your thought leadership and earn readers’ trust.

Once you earn readers’ trust, you become more than just another healthcare provider. You become a valued resource.

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The Author

Lara Nour Eddine

Lara’s love for journalism began when she was eight years old and decided to take a news broadcast class instead of going to summer camp. From third grade on, she anchored her school’s weekly broadcasts. This passion for storytelling resurfaced in college, where Lara worked on the school newspaper, and ultimately lead her to positions in journalism, PR and marketing. With a Bachelor’s in journalism and a Master’s in PR, Lara lives to tell stories and tells stories to live. Outside of storytelling, Lara can be found spending time with her family which includes 4 kids (yes, you read that right) and 3 cats. She aspires to be a good cook and dreams of traveling the world.
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