Posted: August 3, 2017

Ever gotten lost in a sea of inviting content, let's say on fashion, cars, or home design, and read story after compelling story? That's what good healthcare content should feel like. "Today's healthcare consumers are true consumers," says Brooke Andrus a content manager at WebPT, which provides business solutions for physical therapy professionals.

Since insurance plans have shifted more of the cost of health care to patients themselves, they're more invested than ever in their healthcare choices. “Put simply, they are looking for the best value — the best deal. They want to get their money's worth, so to speak. So, the content that providers and health systems produce needs to speak to that value," says Andrus.

Imagine a patient who needs knee replacement getting lost in your healthcare content—reading interesting articles about the procedure, checking out an infographic about the costs, watching a video of another patient who's had the same surgery, and virtually meeting a doctor on the ortho team. That's all before he's stepped foot in your facility.

In the healthcare space, storytelling is always relevant whether it's through articles, video, blog posts or social media snippets — story appeals to our emotions. What's more, patients' stories and testimonials can be very powerful. So can hard facts — statistics and other data points that are easily accessed and help justify decisions — like those in an infographic. What types of healthcare content are most popular and what's the most effective at driving a call to action from potential consumers? Let's take a look.

Story (Articles and Blog Posts)
Everyone loves a good story. Knowledge-based articles that are detailed, answer patients questions, and contain pictures, video, and infographics are most popular among healthcare readers. Eighty percent of content should engage the reader and be useful, while 20% can contain news about the facility or procedures says Anna Martin at IVFMedia, an international media group in the infertility space.

Blog posts provide a way to create a series of content either in a specific area, like a condition, or news about the latest treatment or advances. In order to be most successful, however, blogs need to be updated frequently — at least twice weekly — with new and interesting content that relates to their purpose. Short — under 1,000 words — is typically better so readers won't jump off the content prematurely. Equally important is including patient testimonials to augment textual content.

Pictures are worth lots of page views. Visuals convey critical information. A lot of what you consider visual content in healthcare includes animated graphics of procedures, complex video presentations, and detailed illustrations. But simple can be better according to AHA Media, a boutique content consultancy. Using pared-down graphics and images gets to the point more quickly and allows visuals to inform without getting lost in “marketing gobbledygook."

“Video killed the radio star," but it rocks when it comes to health content. According to Forrester research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. And Aberdeen research found that when marketers use video content they can grow revenue up to 49% faster than their counterparts who don't use video. Whether it's video of a healthcare professional educating about a disease, a hospital administrator highlighting the care their facility offers (MRI, CT Scan), or a patient speaking about the care they received or a procedure they underwent, video is impactful, shareable, and enduring.

Podcasts are alive and well, believe it or not. And listeners can access this content when it's convenient for them, like while driving or exercising. Podcasts allow a center or provider to bring in thought leaders with a variety of backgrounds — healthcare professional (MD, RN), social worker, therapeutic aid, occupational therapist — and helps to build a healthcare community. Podcasts are also shareable, and unless dated, highly enduring.

“Video and voice are personal and strong in their call to action," says Billik.

Infographics are the intersection of art, design, story, and data. They're commonly used to provide the data and statistical information health facilities must provide but in an artsy, upbeat, color-enriched world. It's much more pleasant to the senses to spend several minutes scrolling through stats on an infographic filled with color, cartoons, and interesting visuals than it is to read a boring paper on the same facts. Presenting information via infographic is not only popular and preferable but using it within an article or blog post can increase the time readers spend with your content.

Provider Profiles and Promotional Events
Both provider profiles and the promotion of upcoming events have become standard offerings among healthcare content. The provider profile is one complimentary way to allow consumers the access to care providers available to them, which both attracts consumers and may inspire loyalty.

Promoting events has become de rigueur since the inception of healthcare facility websites. Including events and upcoming news and information is a courtesy for regular and potential consumers that shouldn't be overlooked.

For healthcare institutions that are revising or repurposing content, it goes without saying that good content must include mobile views and be available across all channels and outlets where readers may easily discover it.

Creating or repurposing healthcare content that drives action must include a wide variety of these digital components, which will attract and engage readership, provide value to healthcare consumers, and help to inspire brand loyalty.

Want to know more about creating engaging content that drives business in healthcare? Read our post, Create Content to Engage Healthcare Consumers.