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Monday, February 27, 2017

All the right reasons to feature health information on your website

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Sherilee Coffey, Director of Creative Operations

Health information libraries have been a common feature on hospital and health plan websites for a long time now.

For years, the standard approach was to have a destination library.

This usually involved a landing page on the website where people would come and search for healthcare articles to learn about symptoms, investigate treatments and get tips for healthful living.

Then the online landscape changed.

Perhaps the most important change is in how people find health information. Today, rather than go to a specific site, people rely on a search engine like Google. And Google tends to display national sites, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for these general health information searches rather than local hospital websites. In many cases, Google displays answers to health questions directly in the search results, so people may find the information they want without visiting a website at all.

Another important change has been the rise of social media. Healthy living information, a common topic of interest on healthcare websites, now often comes to people through Facebook or another social platform.

Understandably, many healthcare marketers have responded to these changes by questioning whether they still need to have a health library on their website.

Health information can still provide a lot of value.

The key is to find the right kind of library, with content that is unique and engaging and that can be used across all your digital platforms to help you proactively reach consumers and build an audience.

How to find a health information library that has the right stuff

Whether you're evaluating the health library you currently use or considering adding one, here are some things to look for.

Right topics. The range of topics in the health content library needs to match what consumers are looking for. The right health library will adapt to the changing marketplace and consumers' changing interests. It will also include a variety of content formats, from text-based stories to rich media items like health videos, interactive infographics and health risk assessments that give people personalized information.

Right sources. The health information needs to be solid medical writing based on trustworthy sources. It should be updated frequently to reflect changes in guidelines and recommendations.

Right delivery options. The right health library will be flexible allowing you to use it across all your digital channels. You should be able to easily display relevant content throughout your website and push stories in e-newsletters and on social media. Social media is particularly important. You want content that is easy to share—and that includes angles and formats that people will find engaging on social media (i.e., not encyclopedia-style content with definitions and lists of symptoms).

Pro tip: Ask potential health library vendors what kinds of features they have to allow easy promotion of health content on social media.

Right context. Your healthcare content should provide easy next steps for people to take after they read or watch. For example, when someone visits a heart attack risk assessment, they should find links to your cardiologists and information about support groups or other heart health events on your calendar. These contextual links should be generated automatically, not manually created by you.

Right level of effort. A healthcare marketer's task list is long. There's likely not a lot of room on it for the day-to-day maintenance of a health library. Look for the kind of health library where the work is done for you at the outset and maintenance is relatively easy. No manual cutting and pasting, no updating of URLs on a daily or weekly basis, and no bulk uploading of content each month or quarter.

News about our digital health information library

At Coffey, we're evolving our digital healthcare content. We're excited about the future—and would be happy to tell you more about what's ahead. To learn more, shoot us a quick email.

Related reading

Is your healthcare content trustworthy?
Spot on! 4 attributes of compelling healthcare content
How to write great service line page content for your hospital website


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