June 25, 2020

What we’ve learnt from writing for healthcare


Healthcare text near green fern leaf

Health is one of the most important yet sensitive topics to talk or write about. When tackling such complex subject matter, you must be direct and personal. The quality of your written communications can have a big impact on people’s confidence in your organisation, or affect their ability to get essential information.

Over the years, Avion has worked with a range of healthcare organisations and not-for-profits, such as the Heart Foundation, VicHealth, and headspace. Here are some of the top things we’ve learnt along the way.

You need to form a connection

Our health is an intrinsically personal topic. Whether it’s physical or mental health, humanising your brand can make it easier for people to put their health in your hands.

When writing about healthcare, you must balance being authoritative and useful with a sense of understanding, respect and care. This can help the reader feel informed and empowered about their health.

We worked with national youth mental health foundation, headspace, to completely overhaul over 50 pages of web copy, with the main objective being: to forge a deeper connection with young people. Our team also created over 50 blogs about a range of educational topics.

Our approach was to write in a way that young people would understand and resonate with. We transformed dry, clinical copy into digestible content with personality and inclusiveness, speaking to this audience on their level.

You need to communicate complex issues in a warm and engaging way

Too often, healthcare providers will approach their digital communications in the same way they would a research paper. However, no matter how complicated a health topic may be, you want to make sure your audience understands it.

Try to veer away from language that’s cold and clinical, as this could discourage people from seeking medical help when they may need it. Instead, try to use welcoming language and an awareness of the sensitivities your patients may have.

For example, someone who has recently been diagnosed with a health condition may be feeling overwhelmed or distressed. By validating what they’re feeling and helping them feel like they aren’t alone, you can empower them to get support.

You must establish your brand identity and tone of voice

When writing for healthcare, brand archetypes are a useful tool that helps you keep your content aligned with your brand values.

Brand archetypes help maintain a consistent tone of voice across all digital communications. A typical brand archetype for healthcare is the Caregiver. The Caregiver archetype is caring, reassuring, and driven by a desire to serve others – particularly those in need. Caregivers strive to make their customers or patients feel protected and cared for.

Writing in a consistent voice can help you deliver your health services more effectively. Whether you’re a new healthcare organisation that needs a to establish your brand identity and tone of voice, or need a hand realigning your existing copy, tone of voice guides can help you stay on course.

You’ve got to be inclusive

It’s your right to have access to health services – both online and offline. But certain digital barriers can make it harder for some people to access essential information and services online.

Web accessibility and inclusivity ensure that people from a range of backgrounds and capabilities have equal access to your online content.

This can include:

  • Age
  • Cultural background
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability
  • Educational level.

At the core, writing inclusively is about catering to your audience’s wide range of needs. This can include someone who speaks English as a second language or a person with low vision.

You’ve got to think about different people and situations that could be hindering them, including physical, cognitive and situational factors. Learn more about digital accessibility in our interview with an expert blog.

You’ve got to consider the audience’s journey

Your healthcare organisation’s digital content does not live in isolation – it fits into a larger patient journey. Understanding the triggers that bring patients to your website and what they might be looking for next can help you provide an easier and more useful online experience.

We worked with national heart health charity, the Heart Foundation, to copyedit and proofread over 132 pages of web copy. Our strategic copyedits not only ensured all their content was consistent, engaging and easy-to-understand – but also fed into the audience journey.

This included writing for specific audience niches, providing clear calls-to-action and next steps for the reader. Our edits helped the Heart Foundation get the right content in front of the right audience in a timely way.

This resulted in unified content that lives in harmony with their content hub. Now, the Heart Foundation’s diverse audience can access content to help improve their heart health.

Writing for health, with heart

Trust is an important part of writing for healthcare. By writing with heart, you can build trust with your audience and ensure your message is delivered in the right way. Understanding their unique needs, speaking to them in a consistent tone of voice, and communicating in a warm and engaging way paves the way to connecting with your audience.  

At Avion, our team of copywriters know how to transform clinical content into warm and engaging copy that informs and empowers people. If you need a team of thoughtful content experts with a penchant for doing good, reach out to us today.

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