The Coffey Blog

Interviewing doctors: How to get a great healthcare story

Posted on: Monday, July 30, 2018

Lisa Ladd, Senior Writer

Doctors are everyday heroes. They bring babies safely into the world. They perform death-defying procedures on beating hearts and broken bones. They help patients cope with chronic conditions and ensure comfort and dignity for the dying.

As sources for your healthcare marketing materials, they have some pretty amazing brains to pick. Whether you're introducing a new surgeon in a hospital's e-newsletter or promoting a service line in your healthcare magazine, a good interview with a doctor can help tell your brand's story.

7 best practices for interviewing doctors

Interviewing an expert doesn't have to be intimidating. These 7 tips can help you get the story you need while making the most of a busy doctor's time.

1. Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the condition or procedure you'll be discussing. This will help you compose great questions and let the doctor know you did your homework.

Do some research on the doctor too. This can help you establish a relationship and may spark some interesting questions. You might:

  • Check the doctor's profile page on the hospital website or LinkedIn.
  • Do a Google search for published research.
  • Read any blog posts the doctor has written.
  • If a patient interview is part of the story you're writing, talk to the patient first whenever possible. That way you can share positive feedback when you do talk with the doctor, as well as confirm any medical details you got from the patient.

2. Schedule the interview in advance. Adding an interview to a hectic day can be difficult for doctors to do. To win space in a tightly booked schedule:

  • Call or send an email requesting an interview as far in advance as possible.
  • Let the doctor or office assistant know how much time you'll need.
  • Explain what your story's healthcare marketing goal is—and why you think this doctor is the best expert to help tell the story.

3. Prepare the doctor. Once you have an interview scheduled, work on your questions. Send them to the doctor ahead of time. Having the questions in advance may yield more thorough answers from your source. Also be sure to let the doctor know if the story will feature a patient. That gives him or her time to review the case before you talk.

4. Push past the jargon. At the start of the interview, remind the doctor this story is aimed at a nonmedical audience. If the doctor describes something you think readers might not understand, here are some ways you might clarify the issue:

  • Rephrase what you heard and ask, "Did I get that right?"
  • Ask the doctor to explain it to you as if you were a patient.
  • Ask whether the doctor uses any analogies or metaphors to help patients understand complicated concepts.

5. Ask follow-up questions. Prompt the doctor to give you the telling details that will interest your readers. For example, if a story features a patient, you might ask what was memorable or unique about the case or how it compared to similar cases.

If you're promoting a procedure, try to find out any interesting clinical details. For example, "You said the incisions are smaller with da Vinci surgery. How small are the incisions?"

6. Add a personal touch. Including personal details helps to humanize a doctor so readers can connect. And that, in turn, may bring the doctor's name to mind when a reader needs a specialist or a new primary care doctor. Some potential questions to ask:

  • What attracted you to this medical specialty?
  • Do you come from a medical family?
  • What do you, your spouse and children like best about where you live?

7. Wrap it up with an open-ended question. End by asking the doctor if there's anything he or she would like to add that wasn't discussed in the interview. You never know if you've missed an important question or area of interest.

Telling healthcare stories—it's what we do.

Coffey writers understand how to give doctors a human face that makes your brand shine. We've been creating exceptional content for decades. To learn how we can help promote your doctors, give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

Writing great healthcare stories: What's the best way to interview patients?
How to make a complex medical topic easy to understand
How to talk medical tech without losing your readers