The Coffey Blog

How to talk medical tech—without losing readers

Posted on: Monday, March 20, 2017

Karen Craddock, Senior Editor
Jean Dion, Writer/Editor

One of the perpetual challenges of healthcare writing is how to discuss new medical equipment or state-of-the art procedures in a reader-friendly manner.

Too often this type of medical content is generous with technical details but skimpy with consumer benefits. Granted, it's tough to write lively copy about procedures or equipment—but it can be done.

5 tips for writing engaging healthcare content on technical topics

Some patient-friendly tactics to consider:

1. Stress the benefits.
Patients want to know: How is this equipment or service going to help me? Is it going to save me time or money (with a shorter hospital stay, for example)? Is it easier or less painful than previous methods?

Does it have the potential to help me live longer, survive a disease better or recover more quickly? Can it help detect a disease better and faster than older equipment?

"Those mammogram images are available almost immediately, and they're portable—which means your doctor can review your mammograms in an exam room or in a surgery suite. And your doctor can quickly compare this year's mammogram results to the images taken in years prior."—Mammography, CGH Medical Center

2. Make it personal and specific.
Profile patients who have experienced the benefits firsthand. People like to read about other people—particularly when the story has a happy ending.

Patient testimonials are an important part of your medical marketing strategy. They can make a scary diagnosis and treatment plan seem less daunting.

'I feel excellent,' he says. 'Yes, I do. I can go all day now. I can walk down the street. I can wave and talk to people. This is a miracle, if you ask me.'" —"Patients First—That Mercy Motto Gave a Man His Life Back,"
More @ Mercy, Fall 2016, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital

Technicians can also bring a personal touch to your content. Talk with the professionals who use the equipment—and the ways in which it helps them to serve their patients.

"If you've ever suspected you smelled scrambled eggs in the morning near the Nuclear Medicine department at Grande Ronde Hospital, you're not mistaken. Nuclear Medicine Technologist Jim Jones performs a study that requires him to prepare a very special breakfast for his patient." —"GRH Nuclear Medicine and 'Glowing Eggs,'"
Grand Ronde Hospital and Clinics

3. Keep it simple.
When describing how a machine works or a new procedure is done, go easy on the medical jargon. Doctors are often eager to talk about the latest technology or technique. But you may need to remind them it's best to use language a layperson can understand. A simple metaphor is often the most powerful tool.

"'Think of a book,' explains Tami Hull, Director of Imaging Services at GVMH. 'You see the front cover. But as you flip through it, you see all the individual pages separately. In a similar way, we get multiple images on a 3-D mammogram that allow us to see different layers of breast tissue.'" —"High-Tech, High Quality Care," Health Scene, Winter 2017,
Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare

4. Craft a compelling call to action.
Think of it as a next-stop road sign. You don't want to leave readers at a dead end. Instead, offer them a clear route to your services or more information.

Be sure the benefits are clear and compelling in calls to action too. Here's a good example of that from San Joaquin Community Hospital:

5. Choose your words wisely.
Within the walls of your facility, you might refer to your fancy new machine by its brand name. But consumers may not know about (or care about) the equipment's formal name. They're likely more concerned about how the machine will be used. So focus on that, not the name of the machine.

Case in point: This search simulation suggests that just 110 searches for the term "DEXA scanner" take place in the United States each month. By comparison, 22,200 searches take place for the term "bone density test" in the same time period.

Nailing down your terminology is especially important when you're writing content for your hospital website. Keywords matter a great deal in search engine optimization. But these online best practices can also help you to capture the attention of your healthcare magazine or newsletter readers. If you know what they're searching for online, you know a little more about what they might be drawn to read in print.

We're equipped to help

Coffey writers are experts at creating accurate, easy-to-read healthcare content about complex medical topics. Contact us to discuss how we can write custom, compelling medical content for you. Call 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

How to make a complex medical topic easy to understand
Your healthcare content: Tap into the power of empathy
Before & after: Write stronger CTAs for your hospital magazine