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Monday, October 24, 2016

9 things to double-check in your healthcare content

Thomas Lederer, Copy Chief

As a healthcare marketer, you likely create or oversee copy. That means you may also find yourself in the role of proofreader. Whether it's a print ad or service line web content, you're ensuring that your messages are error-free.

You know why that's important. Your hospital or healthcare brand's reputation is built on trust. Consumers want to know you're an organization that's good with details. To them, your communications may very well reflect on your quality of care and service. Casual errors can erode trust very quickly.

So you are on the alert for things like typos, misspellings, and faulty grammar and punctuation. Those are good basics of proofreading. But where else can mistakes or problems lurk in your copy?

Scour your healthcare content

Read on for a few tricky junctures that are always worth a close eye:

1. Captions. Are they with the correct images? Are the captions accurate? Especially with large group photos, try to match each face to a name to make sure nobody has been omitted. If the people shown are also mentioned in the main content, do names, titles and credentials match up?

2. Charts and infographics. These can be great ways to convey facts. But they also tend to have design or production steps where errors can be introduced. Give your visual content a check against the original copy, and look out for any inconsistencies in the piece itself.

3. Headlines. Give them a slow word-for-word read. It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes the larger the typeface, the more likely it is that an error will slip by. That's especially true if it's a print piece and the headline has elaborate or unusual styling.

4. Links and URLs. A broken link on your hospital website or a mistyped URL in your magazine is a lost connection—404 sadness. Make sure all links work, and double-check any URLs that appear in print. Also check to make sure links take people to the right part of your website for the task you're asking them to accomplish online.

5. Maps. Don’t steer people wrong. Like infographics, these designed elements can be hot spots for missteps. Are important locations shown? Are they labeled correctly? Are street names correct? Is the map to scale? Is it clear where north is?

6. Names. Few typos are as awkward or regrettable as an error in a person's name. You don't want that in a patient story or a physician profile. Make sure all references are correct and consistent. For physicians and other professionals, make sure credentials (MD, DO, RN, BSN, FACOG, etc.) are accurate as well.

7. Numbers and dates. If you present statistics or the like, remember to do the math. Do your figures add up, or are you left with a total of 103 percent? If you promote classes or events, check that you have the dates correct—that includes days of the week. For instance, you might catch a reference to "Monday, Dec. 15, 2016"—and no such day exists. So does it refer to Monday, the 5th, or to Thursday, the 15th? You may need to confirm with someone to know for sure.

8. Phone numbers. When you're urging people to call a number, an error is a potential disaster. To avoid embarrassment, take a few minutes to call all phone numbers in any content you're developing or reviewing. And while you're at it, you might want to make sure your callers' experience will be good. Consider: Is it the best number to call? What hours is the phone staffed? And is the staff aware that calls will be coming their way?

9. Standing elements. In a hospital magazine or wellness e-newsletter that you send out regularly, it can be easy to assume that the regulars—logos, taglines, page numbers, etc.—don't need checking. The fact is, they do. One accidental keystroke might delete or alter a standing element.

No detail is too small

You need accuracy you can count on. Coffey's emphasis on precision and quality makes us a publishing partner you can rely on and trust. We test and hire eagle eyes—and we're committed to getting it right because it matters to you and us. We'd love to tell you more about our approach to quality assurance. Call 888.805.9101 or email us to get the conversation started.

Related reading

Click-worthy content: Crafting better copy
Jargon cheat sheet! 5 × 3 ways to say it better
Use active voice to bring your healthcare content to life


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